Ask any writer how they do what they do and you'll get a diverse range of answers. Most writers however will agree that their writing practice is fed by these three things:
  1. Reading
  2. Introspection (which sometimes requires solitude); and
  3. Social interactions (which often requires alcohol).

Some writers, especially those for whom writing is as much an act of reflection as an act of communication, say that music and visual art both play a part in inspiring, sustaining and reinvigorating their writing practice. This is certainly the case for me.

I once wrote a verse novel about birds (The Song and Flight of Birds) while listening to the same record over and over again (Marc Almond's Virgin Tales). I've never attempted to publish that verse novel suspecting, quite rightly I think, that a verse novel about birds migt not fare very well in a book market dominated by paranormal romance and crime fiction. The writing of that verse novel seemed bound up with my engagement with Marc Almond's music in a way that I couldn't deny. Somehow, all those verses about birds had been given flight by Almond's lyrics and music. I won't go into the poetry collection I wrote in the winter of 1988 which was inspired by "industrial death disco" band Skinny Puppy. Those poems are a wicked abomination and I pray they will never see the light of day.

At other times, a piece of writing has emerged after an encounter with a work of art. Photography in particular has acted as a trigger for my work. So, in an attempt to draw more deeply on the visual to inspire and refresh my writing practice I purchased a lovely Sony DSLR camera with two lenses. The whole package seemed as magical to me as Harry Potter's first wand must have seemed to him; it opened up a whole world of possibility and learning. A year later and I still know next to nothing about photography, but it has become a parallel practice to my writing. The photography enriches my writing and, to my surprise, my writing greatly informs and 'directs' my taking of pictures.

I have included some of my other shots in an earlier post (Photography 1) by way of illustration. I also regularly post them to my Facebook page. A few readers of my book (America Divine: Travels in the Hidden South) have already said that they've enjoyed looking at the images while reading my book. But I don't take the pictures to illustrate or document my writing. I take them to enrich the process rather than to adorn the finished product. Having said that, it might be fun to have some of these images at hand while reading my travel tales. They might help to set the scene.

Ciao etc etc.