Think of a question that has been with you for a while. And then think of a place in nature where you feel (or have felt) content, at peace, at ease. I’ve been on a course for the past few days looking at some of the Big Questions on my mind. One of the questions is: How do I make writing a bigger part of my life, of my identity, of who I am in the world, a bigger part of my daily life, my daily practice. That was the question. Then I thought of the woods near Ty Newydd. The woods that are just across the road from the Writers’ Centre, across the road from Llanystumdwy, through the hedge and down the path to the banks of the river. I am profoundly content and at peace when I’m there. I’ve only been to North Wales three times in my life, but whenever I am there I feel a strong connection to the place. Something about the long winding path that runs along the river, something about the long winding river, the sound of water on rocks and stones, and the surroundings: the age of the trees, the gnarled bark, the old houses, the colour of the brick, the solidity of it all. Something about nature being bigger than the built environment, of nature being more. That’s what I’ve always loved about the sea, and the desert, the wilderness, the Karroo, the veld near our house where I grew up. I loved the desert when I lived in Israel, the vast expanses where there was nothing to see but what had always been there, shifting, changing shape, so much bigger than humans and what humans can do.
And then, the facilitator said, think how this experience of nature might help provide you with an answer to your initial question. The answer was movement. The movement of the water, the movement of the path. I write well when I’m in movement, when I’m in nature, but also when I move in the city, from park to cafe to art gallery, from the river to the theatre. For me, movement is part of writing. It’s easy for me to forget that. I forget that. I forget that I need movement, that I need to move and I need to witness movement, to see people moving and the river moving and cars moving and boats moving on water and animals moving in a zoo or a park, and the movement of sound, not the repetitive sounds that irritate and frustrate me at home, but the sound of a moving car, for example, entering your field of listening, getting louder, then disappearing into the distance. Then another sound, approaching, peaking, disappearing.
Explore movement. Movement is change, shifting, it is flow, evolution, development, progress. Movement is not staying in the same place, not stagnation, not… I was going to stay stillness, but you can move with a sense of stillness. Movement doesn’t have to be agitation. Movement is calm. The river, the wind, a tree. And movement is belonging, being part of a movement. A drive for social change. A revolution, a rebellion. A conviction. The word “move” goes back to the late 13th century. To French, to Latin, movir, movere, meaning: to move, to set in motion. It has always been the same word, always meant the same thing.
Movement sets writing in motion. Keep moving. Get a move on. Make a move. And writing is movement. To write is to move. To bring writing more into your life, into my life, I just have to write more, and the more I write, the more I move, and the more I move in the city, in nature, on the keyboard, across the blank page, the more I will write and the more I write the more I will have written. Simple.