On being a writer...

A celebration of the writing process, of being a writer, of all the weird things that pass through a writing brain...

Thursday, 8 September 2011

Thomas Hardy's footfall

To Dorset, and specifically Sturminster Newton, one of my favourite walks with a favourite friend. I love it partly because it's a beautiful walk through water meadows and farm land, partly because Hardy would have done it too, as he lived in a house overlooking the river for a couple of years, when first married. Being Hardy, he remembered those years in later life as being very happy - his marriage went somewhat downhill after that - so the walk is steeped in Hardy-esque recognition of the landscape, and that old feeling of regret that he generates wherever he's been. We looked up at the evening sky at one point and saw feathery clouds - in a poem about the place he described them as like quills. We stood on a bridge where he had mentioned the smell of eels; no eels but teeming with little fish.
In a bizarre kind of way, I have come to love the memory and effect of Hardy's works more than the works themselves. They are in the blood, but when I revisit a story or poem, it's not quite as I remember it. I hated Jude, for instance, when I re-read it - I thought it was manipulative and cruel. But the evocation of place, and of feeling, is unforgettable.

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