In recent weeks I’ve been reflecting on the topics of creativity, life and inspiration. No, not due to the release of the book. At least, not directly. Let me outline the few things that have prompted me to sit down and write this post.
In case you missed my linking to it on social media, I was a guest on the This Family Life podcast. Among other things, Nicole asked me to talk about my Living List, aka my bucket list. (In a happy coincidence, at the time of writing this post, it’s six years to the day since I posted about my first goal tick – holding a snake.) What’s interesting is that I’ve had a few other (mostly offline) questions about the Living List, too. Perhaps it’s the time of year; people are looking forward to the summer holiday period and what they might like to see or do (or both) while at leisure. Perhaps it’s also related to the way certain personalities are programmed – to achieve maximum targets, some prioritise vigilance and organisation in their decision making. If something – whether big or small – is not in the life plan then it is discarded.
So – I’ll say it here: while I do have a list of goals, I don’t feel ruled by it. And I think this is why I could never truly subscribe to a ‘life by design’ kind of mentality. Life is messy and complicated. Kids grow, responsibilities change and increase. I’ve changed. As I said in the podcast, the Living List isn’t static. I’ve added and removed goals over the years and as much as I think it’s healthy to audit such things, I also think it’s good to think back and see how an achieved goal managed to justify its place on the list in the first place thanks to its residual personal significance.
Perhaps this is why visiting Whitby remains so pivotal to me.
I need to backtrack at this point to explain something. While this has been a good twelve months, I can’t deny a certain amount of weariness on my part that arguably borders on disconnect. There’s a part of my soul that euphorically cartwheels with joy whenever I step into a bookshop – but there have been times this year when I’ve avoided them altogether. I’ve felt overwhelmed: there are so many titles and new authors that I haven’t kept up to date with, I don’t know where to start. Because I can recognise this feeling better now, I know it will pass. As I say in Trust the Process, I’ve learned not to confuse energy with passion.
This feeling reconciled itself faster than usual this time when I happened across the below photo. (Let me be honest by saying that it was taken naughtily, as I’m standing in a graveyard in which photos aren’t permitted. However, I think that rule applied to the gravestones and not the vista of the town. So I think I’m okay.). The view overlooks Whitby and where the River Esk empties into the North Sea. But to Dracula fans – like myself – there are four very important landmarks.
- Is the house Stoker set as the place where Mina and Lucy were staying at the time Dracula first arrived.
- Is where Stoken started writing the play (which he later turned into the novel).
- Is where a ship sank in real life and Stoker used that story (and same sinking place) in the novel. It’s where Dracula escapes in the form of the dog and runs up the very hill I’m standing on.
- Is the old public library where it’s believed Stoker first encountered the vampire legend.
I’ve done a video about it too:
When I looked at the photo, I felt a kind of happy inspiration I haven’t felt in months. In short proximity to each other were these places (and a couple others not in shot) which have a combined historical and personal resonance. I remember in minute detail what it felt like to stand there, taking in the scenery and being amazed at how lucky I was to even be there and that it had not only lived up to expectations, but exceeded them. That’s actually how I feel at certain times during writing: blissful, attuned and purposeful. I must remember to look at this photo when I need a reminder.
This is also the kind of boost and impact that I like to have on others, either through my writing or teaching. I hope I that I do.
A reminder, as I’ve been lax in doing so: My Creative Process will begin on Sunday 5th November. I have extended the earlybird rate until the 31st October. When enrolling, don’t forget to use: EARLYBIRD. You may do so here. This is the last time this course will be offered at this price, so I suggest you take advantage! Also included is an assessment of work for up to 3000 words. Such value! Read the full outline to see if it’s for you x