A Writer's Process: Jill Adams

I like to write with a fountain pen in a favourite notebook/diary in the most informal relaxing place I can find, either curled up in an armchair or at my dining table during the winter and in the summer outside on the patio or by a pool on holiday.

I write something down almost every day even if it is just some dull old fact about the weather as this is the time for me when any creative thoughts are freed to fall onto paper.  The ideas that grow from this daily focus that I like are transferred to a larger notebook and then if I still like it and the idea has 'legs', then it is typed into my laptop, printed for satisfaction and filed.  There are lots of ideas that just don't get beyond the first scribble. 

I also keep a tiny notebook in my handbag for moments I feel a need to record experiences with a few keywords, for example, whilst waiting for an appointment. This notebook is also used for messing around playing hangman with my daughter.  I feel under-dressed without a notepad and pen!

To compose a poem it is usually a fairly quick gathering of a scene or event that I've noted in my diary.

This is an exciting experience, not nerve-wracking or relaxing but exhilarating. I don't write poems in an exact rhyming form, but I let the words launch themselves onto the page in a totally random way that I cannot give reason to. 

The time it takes to collate a poem can be perhaps just a couple of hours for the initial raw draft to become a 'completed' piece.  Then the idea is left to brew for days or weeks.  If after this time the poem still provides me with satisfaction, I'll read it aloud to some long suffering member of my family and edit out the frayed bits.  

Even though a sense of finish comes to me at this point, it is never quite done, because at this point of the process I can find many faults and things that I don't feel are professional, and the nagging feelings of self-doubt about my writing ability creep in. 

The following piece of poetry is inspired by Bridget's prompts from Wild Words, to get back to nature by way of marking ancient festivals and getting down into the cloying ever spinning earth.  It is based on a particular ten-mile stretch of a B road in North Aberdeenshire that I travel often.  The view from the road is of many Crofts nestled into the landscape and it is this that I've tried to capture. It is an unfinished piece that I will revisit and polish at a later date.

Unfinished Journey

Blue tractor lurches and sways

on the soft undulating field.

Away to the left, behind the shelter of the stone wall

sixty ewes gather.


They nibble fresh pale green hay.


Blue tractor turns left out of the muddy gateway,

trundles away

along the metalled road towards Grange Crossroads and the tiny Primary School.

Large rear tyres emit clods of mud

as the rubber rolls quicker

smattering, splotch, splat, spots

of uniform shaped brown earth, spill

on the hard grey road.

Two rows of decreasing muddy dots placed at the dank tired verge,

and over the chipped white dividing line.


The grey road snakes on

across this fertile centuries old country,

unchanged, unspoilt, unique.

Sharp bends hide ancient stone bridges, falling down over burns

and guttural ditches,

between them who come here from the South,

incomers searching for the 'good life',

and them, the locals who inherited a part of this cloying earth.


Every crop of wheat harvested now and

rhombus shapes set to plough,

plain fields of grass remain.

On the left and later on the right

clusters of pine trees sprout their woody crops,

dark with ever green tips

pointing to outer space.

They form the darkest patches on this quilted landscape of Aberdeenshire countryside

gathered together by the seam of double hedges,

that adjoin the metalled road.


Blue tractor takes a sidetrack to the left, a stony and muddy length,

stops at a wee hoosie and a chimney stack


from the hearth crackling below with hearty fire.


Rain is blowing up.

The sky to the North has pale blue shreds of rags

strewn across it, remnants

from the sunny morning.

Darkness is coming earlier these late November days,

and earlier than ever today

with gigantic  grey clouds.

This time tomorrow daylight will be shorter

bringing this earth towards the Yule Festival.


The ever changing clock of seasons lulls us like babes in cribs


stay awake, and drink and feast, look around and appreciate,

love and be loved,

and gaze intently at every view and savour every breath you take.