This week, Creative Producer Fiona Lindsay reflects on the inspiring nature of the Autumn...

Autumn’s a wonderful season. ‘The Fall’, famously one of the most scenically spectacular times of the year, is nature’s time to be beautifully theatrical and stage its own scene change. It’s a massively optimistic and positive time and I concur with Albert Camus who felt that “Autumn is a second Spring when every leaf is a flower” and Lucy Maud Montgomery's Anne of Green Gables says, “I’m so glad I live in a world where there are Octobers”. No wonder it’s the time of year when the academic year begins and educators seek to inspire and engage students anew. You've Got Mail writer Nora Ephron summed up the new season in the following way: “It makes me want to buy school supplies" and send "a bouquet of newly sharpened pencils.”

A newly sharpened pencil is such a hopeful image. It conjures endless imaginative possibility and the opportunity to make a mark on a blank canvas. It’s a daunting image too, though, especially for a writer. It shouts out “Write! Write, go on: change your thoughts into words and spill them onto the page.” I’m in awe of all who can do this fluently and with wit and flare. Making words work in principle is so much easier than in practice (it’s taking me ages to write this today).

I spend quite a bit of my working life with authors, playwrights, and academics and find it fascinating to discover how they craft what they do; how they turn the idea in their head into something tangible for a reader to digest and enjoy. Like many other art forms there is no uniform way of creating work but there is some common practice. Research features high on the list of activity in which all writers participate, as well as creating a structure for the piece in question in advance of committing anything to the page (I should do this more).

At Digital Theatre Plus we commission writers to write about playwrights and their plays for us, to contribute to our library of Study Guides on the productions we feature on the website. All of our commissioned writers are steeped in theatre practice and bring very particular voices to our resource.  The brief is the same for all: bring the playwright and their working world to life as vividly as possible on the page. It’s interesting to soak up the differing styles and interpretive choices that each make.

Writing about writers is no mean feat – especially if the writer in question is a) a national icon, b) regarded as a classical dramatist par excellence, or c) has a cult following. Recently I’ve been reading a biography about D. H. Lawrence that tells me as much about the biographer as his subject; I’m not sure that’s the point, is it? What I want to know about is Lawrence and his life and to form my own opinions.

Today we publish our eagerly awaited Study Guide on The Crucible and I hope it offers you an insight into Arthur Miller’s work at a particular moment in his life. Context is all.