Karen Blixen was a story teller, and loved to write – I love her story Babette’s Feast which has all the ingredients of a good story. Simple storyline, very beautifully drawn characters, and clarity of expression. It looks so easy but it is so hard to get right when I try to write … I think one of the clues is to stop worrying about grammar, historical accuracy, even location but just write what is in your heart about the characters.
I went to Karen’s house in Copenhagen recently, and found another clue, she has a peaceful, large garden which is a bird sanctuary, a very cosy house with plenty of space, and a lovely sea view. Each different space would lend itself to dreamy contemplation of people and lives, maybe ones own life, maybe others stories.
The only way to write is in solitude which can be hard when you have work, and family and lots of activity in your life at various times. Karen lived in Africa and Denmark, totally different environments. One harsh, tropical climate, wild animals, and a culture that was colonial at the time. Denmark has a wildness which is temperate on the coast, but is very domesticated and tame. Her stories are set in both climates and locations.
She loved to tell stories to her family, friends and children. There is a need to use your imagination and what better way than to excite children about life and adventure than in a story.
She was a voracious reader, and her library tells a story about her liberal mind and her appetite for any sort of story. It went right back to Roman times and it was obvious she enjoyed a wide range of books.