Category Archives: DARE

Deep Breath

The view from my bedroom window.

The view from my bedroom window.

Samhain is past, and we are well into the Mourning Moon, a time of releasing the old, and accepting our own power. Here in rural South Norfolk, we’ve had soggy and unseasonably mild weather, which has lately meant long days of grey skies and continual downpours. The last of the trees to shed their leaves, the oaks, have begun their brown weeping. The landscape is smudged khaki and brown and yellow, the edges blurred by autumn mists.
A fortnight has passed since my last post, a space during which I have been trying to recover a little of my strength, and some of my thinking capacity. The first week was one of complete surrender. After it, I felt more rested than I had in a whole year, I think.
The second was more tense, punctuated by a day-long dash to Oxford and back, to take the elders to the doctors for important assessment and treatment. Seven hours in a car, split in half by four hours of pushing a wheelchair and repeating myself every ten minutes, was enough to exhaust almost all the good will my body and I had built up between us. Since then I have been lost in a hormonal, anxiety-ridden mist, feeling OUGHTS and SHOULDS mounting up like an impending avalanche over my head. Add to that the impending doom of the Christmas season, and life-changing news from several friends, and I’m not sure I’ve come out of this much recharged.
Let’s just say, this has been a time of reassessment and reflection.
While I have come a long way in my year of ‘DARE’, I’m not sure that I can face another action word year. After ‘REVOLUTIONARY’ (2013) and ‘DARE’ (2014), I’ve attracted way too much change into my life for comfort, and I think I need a rest, thank you, Mrs Universe. I’ve decided that next year, I need a gentler world to ease my way. ‘BALANCE’ or ‘NURTURE’, perhaps. Or even just ‘EASE’. A reminder to be kinder with myself, something that, like most women, I find difficult to allow myself to do.
Tectonic shifts are happening in my creative life too. The relief I felt at giving myself a rest from blogging caused a delicious upsurge in other creative outlets. I immediately went off and made the back door curtain I’d been meaning to sew for the last six years. I’ve been hand-quilting a Christmas stocking for my guide-daughter too, which is enormously satisfying. I hope I manage to get it finished in time. Being able to sew again feels fantastic, although I had a few scary moments trying to remember how to thread my sewing machine!
I’ve decided I need to be using my journaling practise in a much more systematic way, too. I want to try a lot more guided journaling, by which I mean journaling from prompts rather than the simple stream-of-consciousness method I have always used. I’m feeling the need for more deep self-exploration, and I want to use my creativity as an integral part of the work I do with my Gestalt counsellor on a weekly basis to effect this.
I haven’t stopped writing, in the meantime, even though I haven’t been blogging. I’ve got two big fanfics on the go at the moment, great sprawling things that seem to be growing every time I look at them. My head is full of scenes stored up to be written out. That’s not a brilliant way of writing, especially when my head is so blurry. The other day, I sat down to write a scene, only to realise that of the two emotional points I wanted the characters to thrash out, I could only remember one.
A bit not good.
The result was some serious re-evaluation of my notebooking habits, which I still haven’t resolved, but hope to share with you soon.
As well as putting some conscious intention into my reading habits, I’ve been contemplating a new original writing project too. In the wake of the In/Famous Engagement, and the storm that followed it, I came to the conclusion that I needed to get away from fanfiction. And yes, I know I’ve been saying this for ages, but sometimes it takes a big event to push us to make real changes. So much is shifting in my life right now, and I want to move on to something fresh. I don’t think I’m going to be able to give up writing fanfics, nor do I honestly want to, but there is an idea knocking at my door, scratching at the wood like the ghost of Cathy in ‘Wuthering Heights’, and it won’t go away. As I used to say to my school friends:

‘I think I’ve got a story coming on’.

And finally, I’ve got some ideas for non-fiction that I want to have a go at. I think the phrase is ‘watch this space’.
Thank you, dear readers, for sticking with me through this break, and throughout this bumpy year. While I know it is only going to get bumpier for a while, I’m grateful that you are with me, listening to my ramblings. It is good to know I’m not shouting into the unresponsive darkness.
Happy creating,
EF

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I want to talk about Truth

sussex churchI was having a conversation with a friend who is a songwriter.  A lovely, talented man.  He has left his old pattern of working, writing what he described as ‘pop songs’ in pursuit of his own, original voice.  He wants to be true to himself.  He says he has yet to find his own voice, but I am sure he’ll know it when he does, and it will be a truly special and deeply needed contribution to the world.

For me, this summer’s events have echoed continually his struggle.  I have time and again come up against issues surrounding truth-telling, authenticity, and being heard.

We all need to feel heard.  We all need to feel that our message has got through, that we are understood.

We each have a unique voice, too.  Maybe we don’t need another historical novel, or a pop song, but we need the original perspective of the person making that piece of art, because everyone has one.

Everyone has a unique experience of the world.  No one, not even a twin, can have exactly the same perspective as you, because no one has the same thoughts and reactions, or the same past, to bring to an event.

YOUR TRUTH NEEDS TO BE TOLD

I can’t count the number of times I have looked at what I have written or drawn and thought: ‘Gods, this is shit!  I’ve got nothing new to say.  Its all just copying.’

(Incidentally, there is nothing wrong with copying as a practise to learn an art form.  Its been used in art schools for centuries, and if you go into any great gallery, you will find students sitting on little fold chairs in front of paintings, copying away.  Presenting someone else’s work as your own is quite another thing, however, and its nothing short of stealing.)

Eventually, I will find my own, unique voice.  Perhaps I already have, I’m not entirely sure.  But I have my own opinions, my own truths to tell, things that no one else can share with the world.  No, the world may not need yet another historical romance novel, but it may just need mine.

After forty-odd years of being in this world, this is what I know:

We are all unique.

We all have a story or truth to tell.

We all have a right to tell that story or truth in whatever way makes sense to us.

We all have the right to be heard.

We all have the right to develop and acknowledge our own voice.

If there is one thing I want to say to you this weekend, it is this:

TELL YOUR TRUTH

You might find the following links useful:

This, from Liz Lamoreaux, about truth-telling.

This, from Andrea Sher, about the gift of allowing others to help and comfort you.

And this, which is one of my most popular stories, but which was probably the most difficult thing I have ever written, because it comes from a place of deep truth for me.

I can’t sign off by saying ‘Happy Creating’ today.  I just want to ask you to somehow, in whatever way you can, to tell your truth,

With love and thanks for your support,

EF

Tales from my Weekend

Capture the moment.

Capture the moment.

Dear friends,

I’m sorry you didn’t get a post from me yesterday.   I was doing my elder-care weekend.  Once a month, or sometimes twice a month, depending on circumstances, we trek across the country to care for Husband’s mother and aunt (who live together). This time I made a few notes in my writers notebook, thinking they might be useful starters for writing exercises:

  • A weekend of fabulous sunsets and endlessly varied cloudscapes.
  • A red kite swooped down into the garden to scavenge the chicken bones left over from Sunday dinner, as I perched on the back step a few feet away, reading the newspaper.
  • Learning to manoevre a wheelchair –  its a lot more difficult than you think, especially inside supposedly  ‘disabled’ toilets.  And garden centres.  Note to self – the aisles are always narrower than you think.  Especially round the orchids.  Perhaps they just want to capture you there, so you’ll spend more money, I don’t know.
  • I lost my mother-in-law in Sainsburys.  She walked off.  She has dementia.  Now I can imagine  just how terrifying it is to lose a child in a supermarket. (We found her again in the end.)  Note to self: find a way to attach mother-in-law to aunt-in-law’s wheelchair at all times.
  • A wheelchair is a heavy thing:  discuss.
  • A kind lady came up to us and said hello.  Just because.  People can be friendly just for the sake of it.  The world is not such a scary place as we think.
  • Old ladies want to feel pretty too.  Aunt-in-law asked me to spray her with scent from an old bottle of Guy LaRoche that she had tucked away, so she would feel confident when she saw the doctor.
  • A friend’s dog escaped and she snapped her achilles tendon whilst chasing after it.  Just before her impending annual holiday and her daughter’s graduation.
  • My niece’s husband teaches Wittgenstein to his year 12 students.  I think he is brave.
  • Coming home, the sky was full of a just-past-full moon, an orange disc slashed with shards of inky night cloud.
  • Bacon.  No, you don’t need to know anymore.  Bacon is all you need to think about.
  • Hugs.  Hugs make everything better.  Even if you’ve heard the story about the man walking into the plate glass window 18 times in the last ten minutes, hugs always help.

My thanks to Phoebe and Sam Grassby, Mike and Debbie Bracken, Betsy, Maria, Dr Finnegan and the unknown lady who came up to us in Sainsburys, Kidlington, for making the world a better place.

Happy creating,

EF

Outflow: KBO

Footprints Ardnave 1Today I forgot to post.

I forgot to even think about posting.

It has only just occurred to me, at 9.40pm, and the thought followed hard on the heels of this realisation that this is what my life has been for the last three months.

I’m in survival mode.

I’m just keeping my head above water, just managing to stay afloat.

Sometimes that is how life is, and to be honest, maybe I needed this time of stillness and reflection.  Not that I do much reflection when I am that ill because my ability to think is severely compromised.  It is hard to think about creative plans, or plot bunnies, or even what the next meal is going to be, when you are so tired that you can’t read, write, watch telly or organise a series of logical actions because your brain can’t process.

I’m not saying this to engage your pity.  I’m saying it to be honest, and because being honest is good.  With myself and with you.

This is what the Creative Life looks like.

It is messy and inconsistent and spasmodic.  Sometimes it is filled with elation, and at other times, disappointment.  But it is what it is, and that is why we keep doing it.

I started this year with the word DARE.  So far, as I think I have said before, DARE has become DAREing to keep going, stay alive, and do things I’ve never done before, like basic nursing activities.  Nursing doesn’t usually come within the scope of my definition of creativity, but its definitely under the DARE heading!  So I have extended my skillset, been creative in finding practical adjustments that help, and learnt a lot more about my limits.

Now I have to learn a bit of patience, which is not my greatest virtue.

I’m losing two weeks out of four from my creative cycle because of the time it takes to organise, undertake and recover from our caring visits to Husband’s elderly parents.  I need to find a way to handle the gash this necessary commitment is cutting into my creative time, as well as how it affects me health-wise.  I need to either find a way to drop in and out of my creative mindset more quickly and easily, or to accept that the ease of adjustment I crave simply is not going to happen, and be at peace with that.  Whichever happens, I need to make the most of the time that I do have.  Otherwise I am going to be very miserable, and be unable to meet the intentions I am hoping for this year.

Sometimes creativity means being realistic. It means learning to do different, in order to take account of how things really are.  Because:

“Life is what happens when you are making other plans.”

(John Lennon)

Living a creative life is not always easy, but it is hugely rewarding.

I refuse to give up hope that I am going to achieve what I want to, that I am going to make some wonderful things and have some wonderful experiences.  Life gets in the way.  Shit happens.  The only thing to do is to find a way to keep going.  Or as Winston Churchill often put it, KBO (“Keep Buggering On”).

Happy Creating,

EF