Sunday, 9 June 2013

And the Rest

The week before last I tried, and just about managed, to take a holiday in Malta.  Over the past few years, holiday had tended to mean "writing in a different place", or "writing without the day job", neither of which is that close to the dictionary definition.  This time I wanted to get as close to actually stopping work - even fun work - as I could.  In the end, that wound up as maybe thirty minutes a day on my graphic novel C21st Gods, probably the least time I've put in since the Angry Robot deal began two and a half years ago.

And what do you know?  It did me good.  Not just from a getting a rest and a (very slight) tan point of view, either.  I saw interesting things.  I talked to interesting people.  I learned stuff.  My brain got to slip the rails for a few days.  And out of all of that, I began to think about old subjects in new ways.

Obviously in its heyday there would have been a lot more dead people.
For example: St Paul's Catacombs.  Two square kilometers worth of spooky underground tunnels that the Maltese heritage trust is nice enough to let you wander around to your heart's content, with only an audio guide to keep you company.  But it's a really good audio guide, and one of the things it points out repeatedly is that, dark and dank as these rows and avenues of tombs might be in the present, in their heyday they would have been brightly painted, incense-scented places, where relatives would eat lavish meals and celebrate the lives of their lost loved ones.  It takes a real leap of imagination to see those dark stone passages as they must once have been, but once you do, you can't go back; suddenly, what was grim and morbid has become a celebration of life.

Anyway, just an example ... there were plenty more that I won't bore you with.  I thought a lot about archeology, about ancient civilizations and how people might have lived and why, about how perhaps the findings of historians don't always mesh that well with our actual experience of how human beings function and behave - and ultimately, how all of that can feed into how I go about imagining fictitious cultures and characters and places.  Because I could have written a creepy catacomb without a visit to St Paul's easily enough, and I could have imagined a culture that buried their dead in said creepy catacomb, but I'm not sure it would have ever occurred to me to written a homely, decorative catacomb where people took the kids for a night out.

In the end, my time in Malta ended up being a nice reminder of why I've spent my entire adult life wanting to write for a living; of how much it's my way of finding a useful place for my curiosity and fascination with trying to figure out how things work.  Who'd have thought?  Sometimes not writing is good for your writing.

No comments:

Post a comment