Friday 26 June 2015

On Writing: Congregating at Boundary Conditions

The Who, still going strong after 50 years, played Hyde Park tonight. Pete Townsend told the London crowd:

'We don't come to concerts – we congregate.'

So we gather, unite for common cause or spectacle. I had visions of other congregations I'd been part of including:

  • religious -  like Sunday Mass
  • political -  like strikes or demonstrations
  • social -  like concerts and the theatre
  • sporting -  like the 2012 Paralympics

I thought of what congregating meant to me as a writer and wondered where we writers congregate (apart from reading and writers groups).

In Volume 6 of Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy: Mostly Harmless (1992), Douglas Adams talks about where we congregate.

'A beach house isn't just real estate. It's a state of mind... A beach house...doesn't even have to be on a beach. Though the best ones are. We all like to boundary conditions... Where land meets water. Where earth meets air. Where body meets mind. Where space meets time. We like to be on one side, and look at the other' (Adams, 1993, p. 91)

Many of us have the idyllic beach house we dream of where we are inspired to write with a view of sunsets on the sea, where writing is easier and none of the cares of the world intrude. We are frustrated writers waiting for the right context to present itself or we work towards creating ideal writing environments where words magically flow.

In the past year, my writing environment hasn't changed (I am still living in my little inner-city concrete-jungle) but my state of mind has. I think I've found my mental beach house. I have found the boundary conditions where I and other writers congregate mentally on one side, and look at the other. And the view is great!

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