She's lover shopping, but her new boss could never be the goods on her wish list. Besides, which of them is really the boss?
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A few weeks ago I attended a short lecture on the writing lives of four famous authors: Daphne du Maurier, Virginia Woolf, C S Lewis and Ernest Hemingway. The lecturer addressed where they lived, where they actually wrote, their daily routine, and how much their environment shaped their work.
I found myself particularly interested in the influence of the physical environment, and wondered if the stories for which these writers are well known could have been written in different surroundings; not necessarily the location of the plot, or of most of it, but the setting in which the writer is working.I haven't been to du Maurier's beloved Cornwall where she wrote and which clearly had a huge influence, and her writing brought the area to vivid life for me. In contrast, Ernest Hemingway lived in many different places and, interestingly, wrote about Paris and others after he'd left them. My curiosity lay in the outside environment rather than the room and desk where the creative work occurred.
Thinking back to my own writing life, when I started more or less seriously (that is, aiming for publication), I was living in an isolated New South Wales coastal village and attempting short stories. I used to take my notebook to the beach, sit on the sand and scribble ideas, fragments of stories. This physical environment--the sea, usually calm as our village was situated on a large bay, and frequented by dolphins; the white sand beach, its access track fringed with bushes; the tall forest behind the village--all inspired, indeed encouraged, my literary efforts. Most, but not all, of these early stories were set around this locale; a few were published, and others relegated to a hard copy file in case parts could be used in some future work. (Still waiting!)
The physical environment is of course not only about place and the sense of sight. It's also about the other senses. With this littoral environment, the ocean-fresh sense of smell was marked, of salt and of the scent of eucalypts in the forest; salt contributed to taste also--it stuck to lips and found its way into sandwiches. Sounds included the gentle slap of waves, the hum of the sea at night, calls of seabirds, dolphins breaching, bushes rustling in the breeze; the sense of touch was stimulated by brushing against spiky leaves, swimming in the the often cool water, sand tickling bare feet.
Perhaps I should add that this area has a temperate climate, warm summers, chilly winters, and there is bad weather, high winds, rain, storms. In fact, one of my favourite short stories involved a small boat wrecked during a storm.
Moving inland to a small regional town means that while this particular ambience no longer actively influences my writing, twenty years of living by the sea will always remain in the background, and I
recall the experience when required for a story. Now, instead of writing by the beach, I'm finding our
The idea for Class Act developed from several years teaching English to adult speakers of other languages, work sometimes challenging and always rewarding. The setting of Gina and Lee's language school is in a different city and different kind of building, and the plot and characters are complete fiction. (My then Director was nowhere near as interesting as Lee in the story!)
Enjoy your reading! Priscilla.