For me this place is no aquifer. Words do not gush out onto the page. It is just a thin seam of honesty that can occasionally be mined for words.
Sometimes I dream in words, in loops and strands across a page. My own handwriting in blue ink. But by morning, like dew, the words have gone.
The process of drilling down into the place where the words lie, though always hard and sometimes even painful, is also occasionally illuminating. If the events that are written about are not autobiographical, the emotions surrounding them most certainly are.
The passage in my novel where Frank describes his grandfather's love of horses is, in some ways, the most revealingly autobiographical:
Frank said that Granddad never forgave himself for ageing. That he was happiest with the reins in his hands, the smell of horse sweat seeping through woollen saddle blankets and the rhythm of shod hooves crunching gravel. Over time he grew less able to care for them and he let the little herd dwindle as they grew old and died. And they did, one by one, slowly and peacefully in the place that they had played out their whole lives. He folded their long-legged bodies into holes dug out of the hard clay and mounded the red soil above them. From the house he could see them, seven miniature hills fringed with weeds and the long, stiff stalks of wild oats. Each one he buried took a little more of him into the ground with them and the bridles in the shed became unrecognisable under their mantle of cobwebs."
To me, these words are premptively elegaic. Beauty is temporary. Friendship, youth, conversation, a good horse – these things are fleeting. The golden moments that make a life.