I’m a writer who works on a wide range of projects. Whilst I’m probably best known for writing and editing screenplays and radio scripts, the work that actually absorbs the majority of my creative time is the writing of books.
I came to Hawkwood with the intention of finishing off the first draft of a book I started writing exactly three years earlier, when I was lecturing on screenwriting in Taiwan. To be fair, it had been a stop/start affair, and in between times I’d also written several scripts and even another book. The current book is called ‘Cinema Scope: A Life in 15 Films’: a mixture of memoir, cultural history and humour.
As soon as I arrived at Hawkwood and sat down at my laptop, my fingers were a blur on the keyboard. This was because I was still wearing my distance glasses. But once I’d removed them, I started to write. And I didn’t stop.
To be honest, it’s difficult to imagine an artist not being inspired by Hawkwood: a wonderful labyrinthine mansion set in acres of glorious countryside: big skies over a majestic Gloucestershire landscape. It was tempting to go out for walks and drink it all in. But I’d made a pact with myself, to focus on the task in hand, and write all the hours I was able. So I stayed inside and did just that.
As a rule, I generally produce my best work in the late afternoon and evenings. But the room I was given to work in at Hawkwood, with its panoramic view and extremely generous pacing space, inspired me to get productive from the very start of the day.
The other aspect of the residency that shouldn’t go unremarked upon is the mealtimes spent with the other artists in residence. Namely a landscape painter, a travel writer and a futurologist. The conversations were wide ranging, fascinating and inspiring. Whilst the kind and thoughtful Hawkwood kitchen staff provided delicious and nutritious meals.
The residency gave me the space to think and create. The fact that all the day to day aspects of my stay were taken care of meant I could focus purely on my creative ideas, without my thought process being diluted by practical concerns. My concentrated time at Hawkwood has undeniably added depth to the book. The residency provided the perfect calm environment in which to push my text forward to the next stage. Having five consecutive days, where I could dive deeply into the writing process was truly invaluable. Whilst I didn’t quite finish the first draft, the concerted work did bring me within clear sight of the finishing line.
Full credit to Graham Duff, with thanks to the DCMS & Arts Council England for their funding.