The recent heavy snow and blizzard conditions (not to mention the earthquake) have made me realise how quickly things can change here in the Gower peninsula. How suddenly remote we can feel when the ground literally shifts beneath our feet, familiar landscapes become blotted out, communication routes become obliterated.
It is interesting how these physical changes influence writing in progress, how they inform setting and appear in fiction on the page. For fiction is all about time irreversibly passing and for me time passing is about loss, about moments gone, and the realisation that things will never be the same again. The blizzard has therefore shaped my personal and emotional perspectives as a writer too.
So the recent past has crept in to the first novel I am writing set in Gower in the early 20th century, the blizzard shifting in time and blowing through the lives of my central characters as they are confronted with challenges not only of weather, but of shifting economic, cultural, political and religious upheavals.
The blizzard seems now an apt metaphor to frame the opening chapter and set the tone of what will unfold. So far, I’ve drafted 16,000 words. Only another 80,000 or so to go! Below, a taster from the middle of Chapter 1.
After the Greyhound they know that’s it: no more inns for three miles until they reach the King’s Head in Llangenny. And that’s hardly what you’d call civilisation, there at the western edge of the peninsula, where the land falls into the sea and the wind and the people run wild all year long. No more cottages at the track’s edge until they reach Burry Green, another mile or so ahead. Only the isolated farms – Llwyn-y Bwch, Ty’r Coed, Windmill – obliterated now by the blizzard and the night, unseen, unreachable, somewhere along snow-blown tracks. In the dark and the storm there are only the hedgerows and the occasional wind-crippled tree. And beyond the hedgerows, the fields, and beyond the fields, somewhere in the blotted-out distance, the Bryn to the south, and the ocean to the north. But tonight the boys are feeling their way inch by inch, through their own backyard, like blind men, using memory, instinct and the feint glow of the lantern as their guide. And perhaps fear.
(copyright Jane Fraser 2018)