A swarm of writers landed on Frome Library on Tuesday. Wendy Miller-Williams, who will shortly be canonised for beatific services to local literature, put on her bee-veil and dealt with the buzz of the newly-formed Self-Help Writing Group - louder than a children's party, more chaotic than Railtrack - and hived us off into some sort of order. The Words@Frome Festival committee reconvened, the Poetry Cafe promo is out and so are my snowdrops. Spring is nearly sprung, but I seem to be still circling somewhere above Santiago.
I can still smell the exotic strangeness of sun and smog and eucalyptus. I still hear the ceaseless birdsong, taste the fresh figs, feel the velvet smoothness of the water at dusk. I remember the night we saw the comet like a long silver smear across the sky, the snake on the road that day I borrowed the mountain bike and cycled to the village. I look back at my journal. The day we went to Yerba Loca, in the mountains.
Picnic of watermelon. Tortolita flitting in the trees above us - are they morning doves or mourning doves? Here we're 2000 feet above sea level, high above the dust road, yet the meadow is moist and scattered with flowers like a Klimpt painting. The Californian poppies and orange orchids have given way to tiny blue and white alpines, yellow of hawkweed and some little scrambling butter-golden trumpets. Tall creamy white umbellifers. Butterflies with black & white chequer board wings. River below me, thundering constantly. Mountains ahead, mountains behind, their white muzzles biting into the voracious blue sky. Rocks, grey, stubborn in this soft green verdancy, sudden and obdurate. "You'll never meet anyone in the rest of your life who has been here," says Susan.
We were talking, one day at happy hour, about why we write. It was Sandra’s question. For her: curiosity and challenge. For Merle, creativity. Frank: to say something. Susan simply enjoys it, more than anything else she does. For me it’s like breathing, it’s how I process my life, how I know myself.
Interestingly, as Sandra pointed out, none of us said “To be published, to be famous.”
The question for a writer, I suggest, is: how much do you want to share your writing? And how much of it do you want to share?