The suggestions as to where I could run ‘Wild In The City’ weekend workshops have ranged from the rambling 88 acres of Hampstead Heath, to the smallest, most secluded square in Bloomsbury.
And actually, I am more drawn towards the latter. I fantasise about my assistant’s eyes opening wide as he reports back, ‘I’ve found the perfect place’. He then places a heavy, golden key into my hand. ‘The Perfect Place’ would be hidden in the beating heart of the city, sandwiched between Georgian houses, and ignored by bustling commuters. It would be bounded by ornate Victorian railings. Tendrils of Persian Ivy and Clematis would make a climbing frame of the railings and reach for the sky. As the key creaked in the lock, a secret garden, a wild green space, would be revealed to me.
Later, when I land back from my fantasy, I begin to wonder: why is my ideal venue small and contained, rather than one vast, unbounded space, like, say, Hampstead Heath?
My sense is that Hampstead Heath is the ‘catharsis’ of Wild Words venues. It’s a great place to run wild and ‘let it all out’. But ‘letting it all out’ can be the worst thing a blocked writer can do. Contrary to what is often taught, unleashing an emotional and literary explosion often causes the writer to freeze up more, rather than doing the opposite, and enabling flow.
No, the answer lies in another approach. The answer is in the quiet containment that I’m reminded of when I think about that secret garden square. It’s in facilitating words that are charged with emotion out on to the page in a controlled way, like tendrils pushing their way out from between railings. When we do this we channel creative energy. It’s then that we find the power in our words.
The Weekly Prompt
Close your eyes and imagine:
You’ve seen a poster on a city street: ‘Wild In The City: Weekend courses located in secret wild spaces in the heart of urban areas’.
Now imagine that a heavy, golden key is put into your hand. Feel the weight of it. You know instinctively that this key unlocks a gate that gives you access to the place in your mind where the wild words live.
Imagine now that you walk through the city with that weighty key curled in your hand. Follow you feet as they lead you to the lock that the key will fit. No need to think about where you are going. Your body knows.
You reach that place. The key fits the lock. It turns.
Now, write for fifteen minutes about what it is like inside the secret, green space in the heart of the city.
This article was first published on 10th October 2013