In the spirit of many of the writers in this book, I put on my walking boots and set off down the lanes to think through writing this introduction. It’s not a long walk but it is one I know well and have tramped for many years around Laity Moo (the ‘r’ is permanently erased from the signpost). I like it to be brisk but it also gives me time to read the hedgerows. It is currently early Autumn and the sycamore leaves are curling and black spotted, the cow parsley, exuberant in Spring, is now desiccated and skeletal, nettles bent heavy with seed are ensuring their survival and burrowed in the brambles’ lair, the gift of blackberries. They are very Cornish hedges. And this book which began as a simple exploration of where writers choose to write has become
a book about Cornwall and how Cornwall gives them the tools, the spaces, the inspiration (even if they are
writing about events and places far away) to do so. How different would their work be if they lived in Norfolk
We teamed up with photographer Steve Tanner who is well known for his pictures of theatre and dance productions and for brilliantly capturing a fl eeting moment. He photographed details of the writing space and the writers in conversation. He was exploring how to interpret the writer, their writing and their space. There is huge diversity in approach, with some writers needing total seclusion and silence while others seek out places where the hubbub of daily life is going on around them. For all, the physical act of writing is only part of the process and for the trying out of ideas, dialogue or rhythm many writers take to the cliff or footpaths, go cycling or jump on the train.
The book is also propelled by working with young people on creative writing projects and wondering whether talking to the professionals could support work in education. How many writers choose to write in a room with thirty people gathered around a table? Out of this developed the idea for A Space to Write – the book and also a linked education project.
All the writers are linked to Cornwall either through being brought up here and/or living and working here now. It is a snapshot in time and we know there are many writers that we haven’t been able to include – maybe there will be an opportunity for Space to Write Book 2?
We have limited the book to 26 writers linked to the limited palate of 26 letters that a writer uses but from which every writer builds a distinct and individual voice. The book is bookended by illuminating writing by Michael Morpurgo and the late Nick Darke on their way of writing. And looking to the future there is a section on very young writers who are inspired to write and already have a passion for stories.
We are very grateful for the generosity of the writers giving us access to their private dens and for donating an excerpt of their work to the book It has been an adventure criss-crossing Kernow in Steve’s van to be welcomed by coffee, cake and stories. We hope the reader will have as much fun with this as we have had in creating it.
Proceeds from this book will support writers working in schools through our programme of the same name, A
Space to Write.