Having got back from our holiday in New York, I felt the need to take my first steps into the planning of my next novel in the Circle series. The third book in the series is going to be having some more local flavour to it so with that in mind, I dragged my wife off to The National Show Caves of Wales, Dan-Yr-Ogof.
If you ever get the chance to visit the site I’d strongly recommend giving it a go. Millions of years worth of existence are laid out for all to see. There are stacks of dinosaur models all over the place, a depiction of a bronze age village and all manner of information being piped through hidden speaker systems. As you walk around, you’re greeted by the usual collection of polished public attraction bits and bobs but it’s when you actually find your way into the caves proper that you are treated to the main event.
The three caves all hold different treasures which show contrasting images of the history of the area.
The smallest of the three has bone samples from all manner of people and animals dating back thousands of years, and was by far the most modern of the three, but it was the other two which gave me the most help for my writing.
Those caves were bare of dressing, free of the staged Roman soldiers and Bronze age peoples but they held more majesty because of it. The first system we travelled through was a winding mass of veins through the mountainside it sat within. At over six feet tall, I found myself having to duck and contort myself to avoid cracking into any number of ragged stone outcroppings as the pathway we were on snaked deeply beneath the earth. Step by step we could casually review millions of years worth of the planet just being. Colours and textures of rock waved back at us as we made our way and my mind began to open.
Moving on to the final cave, The Cathedral Cave, I was blasted with such an awe filled view of a gigantic space under the ground that all manner of possibilities and stories swirled and bucked before my eyes. I was witness to a giant room under the ground with rock pools and waterfalls tumbling into ponds. Colours and light draped themselves over each and every surface and all fought for the attention of any and all who happened to walk past, languidly drawing the eye as they unfurled their ancient plumage and showed that which had been hidden for so very long.
I could imagine myself being held within the cave as time rushed past me. I was privy to the vast mass of time which passed by and could see how the very body of the stone became alive as it grew in some places but dwindled in others. I pictured fantastical creatures exploring the darkness in both the distant past and the distant future and I felt an almost primal sensation of life coming from the lifeless stone beneath my feet.
I was reminded, in those underground vaults, that there are so many sensations that the human race can comprehend, so many feelings and delights that we can all share. As an author, I get the greatest job in the world. Through all of the ‘reality’ of the world we see every day, our words are what we can use to let the mind explode. We need the words, all the oddly shaped ones which tickle and scratch as we speak them, the lumpy ones which take more effort to employ and everything in between. Our words are what can become the most mundane of grey and bolt us into the drudgery of a flat existence but they should always be that which sprays bright hues of experience and wonder to ourselves and to everyone we meet.
I witnessed my own wonder in those caves and I could see everything in brighter and deeper shades. I could feel exactly how my words could link together to share what I’ve seen and let another join the fun. Never forget the power of words and just how much delight can be spread because it can be far too easy for all the greatness to be washed out to give us the most dull.