Hothouse Flowers

Posted on May 5, 2010 in Books, Latest

I spent the bank holiday with shaggy-haired Highland cows and fidgety tadpoles. My home was a converted freight container on the edge of a loch. The view was mountains and the eddies of the water.

I was staying at Cove Park, Scotland getting a short taster of The Fielding Programme by taking part in their Hothouse Weekend. Mentor-in-residence Polly Clark and author Toby Litt came together to help me and two other writers develop our individual works-in-progress. For me it was Novel Two.

I’m guessing the Hothouse Weekend was so named because of this OED definition:

Hothouse n. an environment that encourages the rapid growth or development of something.

But for me, the more literal definition is more fitting:

Hothouse n. a heated building, usu. largely of glass, for rearing plants out of season or in a climate colder than is natural for them.

Everyday life with its responsibilities and distractions and stress can be a cold climate for writing a book. You have to make like a weed, be opportunistic and grow through the gaps in the pavements.

The Fielding Programme is a glorious, in-the-middle-of-nowhere greenhouse.  Three whole days of thinking, talking, writing… and trying to spot submarines in the loch.

I’ve come away knowing exactly how to plough forward with my book.

I’ve come away knowing that I’ll go back.