Well it certainly has been a very strange year for us all. I know that there has been some incredible creative displays in these unprecedented times. I have seen the amazing film made over the streets of Bath during lockdown, displaying the city in its full glory, but eerily quiet. Others have painted, produced music and written stories about this year in the most thought provoking ways.
Whereas I have felt like a bystander on the periphery of it all, my feet in no one else's camp. As a new writer I didn't have the camaraderie of a community of writers, just those I had met on a retreat in France last year. I didn't feel connected to my fellow NHS professionals as they fought the battle against COVID-19 on the front line. As I felt disconnected working in training and education, up skilling staff and writing policies. I felt embarrassed by the NHS clap, as I was undeserving of it, woking at my NHS pc in the comfort of the office. I felt uncomfortable by the gifts showered on us by the general public. I felt a traitor wearing my uniform as a masqueraded as this hero when It was my brave colleagues who risked their lives on the front line.
It felt to me as though I was looking in on my life, and not fully taking part in it. And then I took a minute to look at what I had faced in 2020. From the beginning I faced the inevitable death of my father who lost his battle to Myeloma after 10 years. He died at home just as he had wished, his funeral was 10 days before lockdown and I wrote his eulogy, which was one of the most emotional things I have had ever had to write.
Soon after his funeral I contracted coronavirus, after being exposed to the virus. I had never felt so ill in all my life, I thought I would die. When the paramedics arrived in their greens and gowned up in my front garden. I thought that it was all over, as I could hardly breath. After 3 weeks of less than 14 hrs of sleep in total, my body managed to pull through. If It hadn't been for the words of encouragement and the constant text messages and conversations from my friends, it would have been a very lonely place. I struck up a a long distance friendship with family friend over in the USA. We chatted in the early hours UK time and teatime USA time. I can hardly remember what happened now, it just seems so surreal. In fact I feel as though my memory of those months have been erased. I have since heard that this is common.
Early in October I met a friend who was at the French writing retreat the year earlier, I told her that I just couldn't write. I was struggling to find my voice, it was as the the grief and the covid-19 had stolen it. I told her of the muddle my head was in. She said that she wasn't very surprised and perhaps I just needed time and that was ok too. She then asked me what had happened to the sequel to Twisted Thread. I told her whilst we walked around Higginsons Park in Marlow, along the River Thames that "French Knot" was still very much in my head and I had written over 90,000 words but it was a real knot, and I was no clearer in how I was going to finish it.
So, she discussed how I had managed to write TWISTED THREAD... I realised that I needed to go back to basics. Firstly, I had forgotten that I used to carry around a small note book to record observations of life in it, just as Roald Dahl had done. A tip that I picked up in Great Missenden museum. Secondly, There was another habit I had stop doing, and that was to record ideas in a main notebook. Thirdly She also helped me to realise that I was over editing my work, with ideas, for example :
1). The boy took his dog for a walk in the afternoon and met an old man
2). The boy took his dog for a walk in the early evening and the sun was just dropping in the sky,
3). The boy took his dog for a walk with a red ball, he was throwing down the lane, but his view was obscured by the setting sun. He didn't see the old man approaching
Finally, She suggested, just keep writing....even if I didn't like what I had written or it was not quite right. I was to just keep writing as it will keep the creativity going.
Give yourself time to write.....and don't make excuses...
All this advise I have taken on board and amazingly I have managed to write 10,000 words in two days, with lots more ideas from my ideas book. It has really got me started again.
Keep a small notebook to record interactions, funny stories and observations on life. (I keep mine in a handbag)
Keep a large journal for your story, write lots of little stories, ideas or solutions to problems. These thought often come, last thing at night or first thing for me.
Write. and write and write and don't keep looking back.
Write using your voice...try not to emulate others
Try not to write for your reader...otherwise you over think it.
Write because you enjoy it...