I can’t remember why I stopped writing this blog. The Future is Mine was shortlisted for the Introduce Yourself Festival at Finborough Theatre in 2018, which was really exciting, but other projects seemed to fall away. Nothing really stuck. I don’t feel like myself if I haven’t got a project on the go or something in the production works, but I guess that’s how it goes. That’s the ups and downs of being a writer.
After attending an awesome Arvon course with writer Chris Thorpe (do check him out if you’re not familiar with him), in late 2019 I finally started writing a new play. I was also branching out, exploring other forms of writing, and then lockdown hit.
I don’t need to tell you how hard it’s been. I hope you and your family are safe. I’ve felt incredibly lucky that I haven’t been sick, despite commuting up until the week before the official lockdown in the UK. I’ve been working from home ever since.
Words for plays have been hard to come by so instead I’ve been getting into visual art. It’s always been an interest of mine, and amongst other things, 2020 became a year of art courses for me. I explored drawing, painting, collaging, creative embroidery and art journaling primarily as a way to relax. I surprised myself by my energy for it, and it’s something I’m continuing this year too. Here are some examples of my work.
I follow art teacher Nicholas Wilton at Art2Life (if you’re into art do look him up) and early into lockdown he vlogged posing this question:
It really picked me up and turned my thinking around from focusing on what I’d lost with the lockdown to what I could gain from it.
It didn’t take long for my mind to turn onto an idea for a novel I’d had for about the last ten years. I’d actually finished a course in Feb 2020 with writer Zoe Gilbert on fantastical fiction which helped me think about the story. It was when I was in my ‘exploring other forms of writing to help my plays’ phase and I actually finished the course discovering a way into this novel story, but decided to put it on the backburner and get back to my play. Where was I going to find the time to write a novel? I thought.
Now words for plays were hard to come by, but on the flip side I had all the time in the world to write a novel, and perhaps it could be the focus I needed.
I spent just 30 minutes every week day morning before work, just writing what came next in the story. I had a brief overview of generally what happened, and I already knew the end (which is essential for me to be able to get into any writing project). Long story short I finished the novel in three months (with the help of Camp Nanowrimo and another course with Zoe Gilbert) and then after a rest I finished typing it all up just before Christmas.
Broadly speaking it’s a fantastical novel set in a world not dissimilar to our own, but one where society believes magical people can’t be trusted. That’s all I’ll say for now, but hopefully that’s whetted your appetite. My work has always had a fantastical bent, but right now, I need fantasy more than ever and working on this project has been the tonic I needed.
Ursa, the play project I was working on before lockdown is still floating around in my mind, but as I just don’t feel like going back to it yet, completing a second draft of the novel by the end of 2021 is my next goal.
Something I’ve learnt about myself over the last year is that my creativity has many forms and great things happen when I just follow the flow. As Nick Wilton says, experiencing difference and doing different things makes us feel alive, and as my writing hero Julia Lee Barclay-Morton says “If you know where you’re going it can’t be anywhere new.”
My original purpose for writing this blog was to share the ups and downs of my life as a writer in the hope other people will be interested enough to come see or read my work.
In the times we’re living in now, some days my creativity is the only light I can find. I can only hope that these words are and will be of interest to you, and might add a lightness or distraction to your day. I’m aiming to blog once a month so I’ll see you in February and let you know how I’ve been getting on!
In the meantime, take care, stay safe,
and if you can, create xx