Every morning over the past week I have stood on the edge of the land, so steep that if I stumbled it would give me up to the sea. On one side is a tumbling promontory that looks like a sleeping dragon, with its curved spine, ridged tail and ribs on either side. The sea rolls and crashes against his head while he sleeps. On the other side is a path that runs along the coast, atop huge pieces of slate, caves and lichen-webbed cliffs. The sea feels massive here, constantly moving and changing in your peripheral vision; at times it’s overwhelming.
I have been writing and sleeping in a cliff-top house with wind-powered electricity, a Rayburn cooker and a bath outside. My desk is in a lookout window with views of the sea on every side. At night it has been so windy that it has felt as if the house might take off. I have slept fully dressed, with my torch beside my pillow just in case. I am three fields away from any other houses.
I came here because my third novel is based in this part of the world. I wanted somewhere to feel inspired, and to write, where I could be alone. A room of my own. I set myself a target of 2,000 words a day, in order to reach a dramatic event halfway through the novel. I am leaving tomorrow and I think I’ve just about managed it.
I’ve kept up my routine of making notes and planning the night before, and waking at dawn to write. I make myself a cup of tea and use the remaining water to fill a hot-water bottle, and I crawl back into bed. It takes me about an hour to write between 1,000 to 2,000 words, rough, scrawled, a mess on the page. I have a cup of coffee and a boiled egg then I run my bath. It’s a hot water bath, so gives you that lovely sensation of being half hot, half cold, the wind and air chilling your head, shoulders and breasts. I lie back and get lost in the blue sky, the birds as they battle against the wind. A plane buzzes overhead and I quickly get out.
Once dressed, I go for a walk. There are seven wild ponies that graze on the promontory, day and night, in all weathers. One morning I took them carrots and one of them was so keen that he chased me and bumped my leg, almost pushing me over the edge. On some days I’ve walked to get milk and bread from the local shop, some three miles away, or I’ve followed the path to beaches that have been dramatically changed by the storms, their sand swept away to reveal rocky outcrops, new rock-pools and masses of seaweed stalks.
I return to my little house and load up the Rayburn and type up what I’ve written that morning, editing and refining, and planning what comes next. I bake a potato and eat it with cheese and red pepper. I sit and watch the sea, and marvel at its colour, jade green with silver threads from the sun up above, not metallic, but as warm as gold.
By 6pm it’s dark and sometimes I work by candlelight or lie in bed and read with a torch on my head. Then I sleep, or try to, although the wind keeps me awake. I’ve thought fleetingly about an Axe-Murderer coming in the night and knocking on the window, but as a lady in the local pub commented, ‘Who’d be out in weather like this?” Although I surprised myself by greeting a lone man on a beach this morning, and enthusiastically telling him of my week: that I’ve been alone, pointing out where I’m staying. Is it because I’m proud, perhaps? Do I want someone to pat me on the back and say, ‘Look at you, urban chic. How well you’re coping with that!’ Or just plain stupid, I think as I trudge back up the hill. What if he’s the Axe-Murderer? How lucky he is to have met a girl like me.