One of the benefits of being on holiday was the opportunity to be exposed to new environments. It gives the mind fresh angles on places not yet familiar and provided me with some excellent moments to record for future use. Phrases I have collected on my journey will hopefully come in useful in the future when trying to recreate atmosphere in environments not my own. Most of the things I jotted down were of the experience of being beside the sea:
- the way my face cut through the wind, the harsh taste of salt on my lips, as I bounced across the ocean in a wooden sailing boat
- the coarse grains of sand as they scratched my feet, settling between my toes as they dried in the sun
- the constant hushing of the shallow sea on the shore (shhh, shhh, shhh, shhh)
- a cooling balm of wet sand on my skin as the tide sweeps in, and then out again, hypnotising me with it’s soothing rhythm
I also picked up the habit of becoming physically aware of my own surroundings and how it might affect me: for example, the suffocating heat of an overcast summer’s day with the wet smell of damp rising like steam from the earth that haunted me when I returned home, away from the rejuvenating air of the coast.
We get so used to accepting the conditions we live in that we often forget to take note of how it feels. I suppose it comes back to the skill of using all of our senses to describe how we experience the world. It’s certainly made me realise how important this part of description is – building a scene that forms the backdrop of my character’s actions will only help a reader to be drawn into this fictitious world and get lost in the making of it. It’s a useful exercise to be reminded of now and again.