Finding inspiration for 2017


I have decided this will be the year of doing the good things. Switzerland is home to many world class galleries and museums which I almost never visit. Good intentions are not the problem; I have no shortage of good intentions. Time is not really the problem; these exhibitions run for months. But nine times out of ten I can’t seem to get myself to that location for a day trip. What is stopping me? It could be because I feel I should be doing ‘useful’ things all the time, so it’s hard to sacrifice a day for inspiration.

Until now. A few months ago, I picked up a brochure at the train station for an exhibition in the Beyeler Foundation in Basel, two hours away. For the first time in 30 years, Switzerland was hosting a large-scale exhibition of one of the most fascinating chapters of modern art – Der Blaue Reiter artistic movement, which kicked off in 1911. I didn’t know anything about this movement but I do now, and it was a wonderful discovery. Beautiful works by Kandinksy, Marc and Macke, among others, are now familiar to me, as are the stories of the artists. (There’s a lovely slideshow and info in German here).

Landscape with rain, 1913, Wassily Kandinsky

The exhibition runs until January 22 and I got there in the first week of the year. So, I’m hoping this will be the beginning of seeing through some of the other wishes I have for 2017. Not all my dreams and plans for the next 12 months are writing related but as this is a writing blog, I’ll stick to those:

First, I hope to get my new children’s novel shipshape and start submitting it as soon as possible, hopefully in time for the Meet the Agent event I am attending in Geneva next month, organised by the Geneva Writers’ Group.

I have an idea for a novel set in Switzerland, and I’d like to start getting this story down on paper this year. This will be a departure as I have yet to write any fiction set in Switzerland. After 13 years living here, it’s probably time.

Along with a partner, I plan to launch an online writing-related business. The preparation work for that has already started and I’m hoping it will be a way to combine my love of writing with a new source of income.

My nonfiction book about Switzerland, The Naked Swiss: A Nation Behind 10 Myths, will be coming out in French and German in the autumn. I’m expecting to do more promotion work this year and to create more opportunities to give author talks. Next talk is coming up in Basel on January 26th in Das Narrenschiff bookstore.

As always, I hope to write more and write better this year. That will involve attending some talks and workshops if possible, so I’ll be keeping an eye out for events. And if I can pull it off, I would love to have a short writing break in Ireland.

To go back to the Blaue Reiter artists, the story ended tragically after the outbreak of the First World War smashed their innocence and optimism. August Macke was killed in the second month of the war in France, and Franz Marc was killed in the Battle of Verdun in 1916. As an enemy alien, Russian-born Wassily Kandinsky had to leave Germany.

A month after Macke’s death, Marc wrote to Kandsinky, “I have the sad feeling that this war is flowing between us like a great flood that separates us; each of us can hardly see the other on the far shore.”

I don’t want to end on such a sad note. We hardly need reminding of the devastating cost of war. Here is another quote by Kandinsky and Marc about art, an expression of life and love that remains one of the great antidotes to war and death.


Happy New Year!

23 thoughts on “Finding inspiration for 2017

  1. Lots of wonderful goals and plans! Can’t wait to hear and read more about them!
    I’ve been to Beyeler once, and this has been one of the very few times to visit “art” in my life, except when we had to explore a couple of museums in Paris for school. I do like Kandinsky. He uses vibrant colors and neat shapes, none of the abstract wishy-washy I can’t make sense of 😂

  2. Nice aspirations, I sooo relate to the point #1, I always intend to go see exhibitions when I come across interesting flyers and the end date is like 2 months away, and yet, I rarely manage in the end… what is it about that? Is it a matter of interest and priority? Also, congrats on the book, what an achievement!

    1. Thanks Marisa. The book is like a grown-up child now – independent at last after putting me through lots of work and worry! I’m sure it’s a common thing to miss out on these events. We get caught on the treadmill of daily life and it’s hard to arrange an escape. Or other treats take precedence. I think women have really bought the idea of beauty treatments or having a spa day as me time. That’s something I personally can’t relate to, not my thing.

  3. Wow, what an overwhelming bunch of projects you have! I´ll keep my fingers crossed for you to finish them all with great success!

  4. Years ago I read The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron. She believes that creative awakening requires the consistent use of two things: Morning Pages and the Artist Date. Your trip to see the exhibition reminds me of her idea of the Artist Date. She recommends setting aside a block of time, maybe two hours each week for a preplanned excursion. She calls it “filling the well.” I always thought it was a good idea. Like you,I ask myself, “What is stopping me? It could be because I feel I should be doing ‘useful’ things all the time, so it’s hard to sacrifice a day for inspiration.” Congratulations on taking the leap.

    Your plans for 2017 are definitely ambitious, but you seem like the kind of person who could do all or most of those things.

    1. Nice to hear from you, Nicki. People have recommended The Artist’s Way to me before. I must check it out. The Artist Date sounds like ane excellent idea – little and often is much more achievable. And thanks for the vote of confidence. I probably have too many goals and therefore don’t live enough in the present but I think I need that focus to keep me going.

  5. My husband mentioned this exhibition as something he really wants to see… so hopefully I’ll get to experience it first hand. The Artist’s Way is great and, in a similar vein, I also like Wild Mind

  6. Franz Marc is one of my favourite painters. His humanity shines out of his work, and his fear that the world was approaching the brink of catastrophe. How right he was. I often use his paintings as illustrations to poems.

    1. Yes, I’m thrilled to have discovered him. His paintings are so full of love for life and nature. So sad that he lost his life in those circumstances.

  7. Ah, you have inspired me. I always think that I need to go to London and all their amazing free museums. I’ll need to make a list of all the wonderful museums you mention. Great new years resolution. And wow, you sure have a lot of things shaping up in 2017!

    1. Thanks, Kate. You gotta try. Another thing I really want to do this year is show Zurich to my kids who have never been there. I’ll be relying on your blog for tips on what to see and do.

  8. Wow, you are busy busy busy with so many wonderful, exciting things! Congratulations on actively hunting down and achieving your goals.

    1. Thanks Johanna, a lot of this is the outcome of work built up in previous years, and I don’t know yet if I’ll make progress this year. The Naked Swiss was the third book I submitted and the first to be published. But I appreciate all the positive support 🙂

  9. happy new year Clare! I wish you luck in your ventures this year. Looking forward to reading your published book soon, and hopefully your book of fiction sometime in the future!

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