Where I Write: In Quiet, by the Sea

Jackie Morris' view
Category: Writing

It seems odd to say, 'I write with a pen,' but in these days of computers I suppose it is unusual. I write with a pen because when I am chasing the words for a story I do it on foot. With notebook and pen in bag or in pocket I walk away from the house, computer and worries, to the cliff tops or beaches, and the movement of walking helps me slip into the story, another world, a different way of being.

My house, small, untidy, has a studio of clutter and it’s here that I bring my notebooks

I wrote Little Evie in the Wildwood after days of walking in woodland. I wrote The Icebear high on the hill above my house while ravens circled my head and my heart, and I swear to this day it was ravens that told me the bones of this tale. Longer books like East of the Sun, West of the Moon and The Wild Swans travelled in their writing. Some of The Wild Swans was written on the rocky crags and cliffs above my house, listening to the wind catch and snag in the heather, skylarks sing, buzzards call. Some was written on the beach where the shush and hush of the sea lent a rhythm to the words. Some was written in the Roundhouse and Druidstone, a place of peace and beauty.

And now I have a new place to go, to write, and that is my friend Jane’s house. Jane was always a wonderful supporter of my work and that of singers, artists and other creative people. She ran a ‘family’ hotel beside the sea in Pembrokeshire. She was my friend, but she died too young and now her son and his wife let me go to her small room beside the sea to gather thoughts and stories. When they are written I sometimes read them to the space around her grave, in a field above the hotel, with a view across St Bride’s Bay. There is a special kind of peace to be found here: profound, deep.

Jackie Morris' cat
I need silence when writing, not complete silence, but an absence of phone and voices and other technology. The voices of the natural world are fine. They comfort, they do not distract. So, birdsong, windsong, sea whisper and crash, the sound of the insects from grasshopper to bee all weave through my writing mind. And often when I walk, always with at least one dog, a cat will come too. The White Cat likes to play with my pen.

My house, small, beside the sea, untidy, ill kept, has a studio of clutter and it’s here that I return with my notebooks, with words all gathered and hunted whilst walking. Here they make their way into the digital world, off to publishers, out into a wider world.


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Jackie Morris

Jackie Morris is an author, illustrator, photographer and painter. She lives in a small house beside the sea in Pembrokeshire with a scattering of dogs and cats. Her books include the illustrations for How the Whale Became by Ted Hughes and Tell Me a Dragon, The Snow Leopard and I am Cat, written and illustrated by Jackie. All are published by Frances Lincoln Children’s Books, as is her latest book the Wild Swans. She is currently working on a book with Barrington Stoke and illustrations for the Lost Words, a spell book by Robert MacFarlane to be published in 2017.