A Writer's Process: Robyn Curtis

My poem Climbing Kimber has been through various incarnations, one a bit too flabby, one too pretty, too gritty ... yet there it has stayed, the sky, the moor, the grey stone and rich heather and peat.

Kinder Plateau is my second home - after the downs of the Isle of Wight - and there it was the sea that fed the steel clouds and wind. But now living further north, limestone gives way to granite and some days only the tops and edges above the Edale valley will do.

I often start poems with an image from nature, usually on a walk which becomes a slow process if it's one of those days when I am stopping to scribble in my notebook every ten steps! I carry a small notebook that slips into a pocket and a soft pencil. I have become addicted to 3B pencils and their feel on the paper so nothing else feels right, though in extremis anything that makes a mark will do.

Images sometimes spark a personal memory - more often provoke a feeling which can take shape in the image. Although the sense in my poems is often of sadness, it is rarely exclusively sad because making an image, especially from nature, both gives the sadness expression and surprises us with a deeper joy, from both being in nature and in the act of creating itself.

I didn't write for many years;  like many of us, not listening to myself in the throes of family and career.

But I careered out of all that a number of years ago and have been coming to terms with health limitations alongside a deep need for self-realisation - said so often but it's so true, that if you are not doing what you feel you are meant to do, or being who you are meant to be, how can you find contentment?

So here I am in a new way of life: kids left home, obliging husband who gives me all the space I need and carries my lunch and camera up the hills; I have the luxury of a room to myself at the moment but that could change soon with enforced downsizing. I feel I could do without almost anything except a big table covered with art stuff that I just play with and my own room, however tiny, for just being alone in.

I don't actually write much in this room. I type things, amend things, play around, lie on the couch, talk to the cats - and I find all that 'nothing' time is vital for any creative process to grind into action somewhere out of awareness.

Then the writing, first draft, amendments, better wording, next level of ideas - all tend to pop into my head on the train, in a cafe, in the bath - I am looking for a waterproof writing set up for making notes in the shower!

So this poem comes after some considerable heartache dealing with the fallout from loss and trauma,

and earlier drafts featured heavily the gravestone/gritstone and running dark streams ... but as it evolved the moorland birds and sky and the great freedom and hope they bring would not be left out and I was so happy to find that I did actually feel I could live in both places -the darkness we must all navigate at times as well as the airy and magical spaces of the world and when you are up high you can really be with the birds there.

Thanks to Wild Words for giving me the opportunity to share with like minded writers - I am quite a beginner tip-toeing into the world. Good luck to everyone.