The life of a writer can, apparently, be one of solitude, if not loneliness. Add motherhood into the mix, and solitude is a distant memory, but life can become something of a trudge up a mountain.
I remember Steve dragging me up Cadair Idris - my first ever mountain climb - before we were married, when we were still worried about offending one another. At first it was pleasant, then it became hard work, and by half way I was obsessed with wondering how much further the tantalising summit was. Then Steve nudged me and told me to stop looking at my feet. The view was so awesome I daren't describe it in case I fall into cliches. And the funny thing is, when you're looking at a view like that, you stop noticing what your feet are up to, or thinking about the summit. We sat and ate sandwiches just below the trig point. I've climbed it a couple of times since then, and it's one of my favourite mountains (and each time I climb it, it's easier).
I try to remember this sometimes, when part of me is ready to cry with frustration that I can't write as often as I'd like because of my family (or the laundry mountain they produce); or when reaching bedtime unscathed seems like a task Hercules might've baulked at. Then it's time to stop and look at the view. I'm writing such a lot more these days, and my focus is better. My family are beautiful, healthy and delightful. It simply isn't worth stressing over the little things.
Today we went to Bolsover Castle, partly to celebrate my approaching birthday. It's the setting for a short story I'm writing, too, so I took many, many photos and scribbled in my notepad. Being away from the keyboard was worthwhile. I will try to post another day on stereotypes and cliches, but there is nothing to replace standing in a place and trying to unpick the smells, sounds and feel of the place.
While I was busy admiring the view, and ignoring my feet, I saw several people who inspired me to write notes on characters. I had a few ideas for articles (although I doubt I'll ever get round to them...). I even had an idea for another story.
Getting away from the keyboard is such an inspirational thing to do. Going out and enjoying friends or family - guilt-free! - can provide valuable writing fodder. It turns out that in writing as well as mountain-climbing, taking time to enjoy the view can make the journey easier. Now to get back to the keyboard while I'm fired up...