Castlerigg

I’ve been working from home since 17th March due to the coronavirus crisis, and generally life has been fine for myself and my husband – thankfully. I feel very grateful for the space I live in, my garden, and the fact we can work from home.  During this time I have noticed a couple of things about my creativity.

As I am working from home I am sat in my study, using my PC throughout my working hours.  At the end of the day I don’t feel the inclination to stay in the same space, using the same PC to work on my writing.  I want to escape this space for a while, shake off the screen, go and sit in the garden or elsewhere in the house.  I have gained a couple of extra hours to my day which were formerly used in commuting, right from the start I ensured I still got up at my usual time (5.45am) so I was starting work earlier, and able to finish earlier. But I realised for a while I couldn’t bear to write.  I had started an on/off journal at the beginning of the year, and I tried to include entries to this – we are living in a strange time in history, it is perfect to record it.  But I found it harder and harder to write.  I didn’t want to think, I wanted to block things out.

So I started drawing and painting. I set my expectations low, and aimed for just enjoying myself, experimenting with using watercolour pencils and paint (pans). The pencils we’d bought from the Derwent Pencil Museum, Keswick whilst on honeymoon in the Lake District nine years ago.  Seemed about time they should be used.

I have predominantly been painting stone circles and ancient sites, with a vague idea to try and paint all of the 50 stone circles we have visited. I have also ended up listening to the Folk on Foot podcast, which has been the perfect accompaniment to my doodlings; as I paint a landscape I listen to folk musicians talking about landscapes they are familiar with and which have inspired their music.

Which isn’t to say the writing has been totally abandoned.  Before lockdown I had completed my children’s novel (Stephanie Stitchin and the Hats of Liability) which still needs editing, and a number of short stories that are veering towards folkloric motifs.  One of which is being published in an anthology by Taff Vale Press – who are awaiting the end of lockdown before being able to print copies.  I’m still having moments when I am happy to write, and the other day started relooking at another book I half wrote six or seven years ago, maybe I will get round to finishing that one too.  Despite all the illusions that people are flourishing in their creativity during this time, I am finding it difficult, and I’m having a pretty easy time of it really.

I am trying to focus on smaller, more manageable projects – such as Beltane in Lockdown, which is almost complete just awaiting a final contribution.  So I think bite size is the way to go at the moment.