I have wanted to start a blog for a long time. I set up this Cicatrix site nearly 3 years ago with that very purpose… No actual posts till now. Clearly I’ve found it difficult to start. Who will read it? I don’t know but that doesn’t feel crucially important right now. I am just clear now that I want to connect more with the world – with my words, thoughts, ideas, whatever – put it ‘out there’ – attempt to connect. And be brave with that – face being ignored, criticised, whatever may come. I want to be part of some sort conversation in the public domain and have a regular writing output. It will be good for me. Push at my hermit edges. And bring all of myself to it including my fears. At Spring Equinox I picked a card – the Magician – ‘He creates the present moment with his keen skill.’ Isn’t that a skill. After being stuck in a long clenched moment of ‘wtf’ since last March, a year later I finally let go. Breathed out. On the anniversary of the first lockdown I found myself sobbing copiously with it all. And then what?… Breathe in again I suppose. We are all in the middle of a collective trauma no one can see to the other side of.
I am happy to say I survived last year pretty well all in all, including as a creative freelancer. Some part of me (a part I didn’t know existed) kicked in and Got On With It. I created small manageable pieces of work – events and experiences – that I could run from home myself and adapt as necessary: Words in the Wild – a performance of poetry in the landscape last Summer; The Wheel of Nature Writing Workshop – a weekly online drop-in workshop since last Autumn. All I needed (for Words in the Wild) was my creative work (a set of poems) and knowledge of the landscape; for The Wheel of Nature – my skills and ideas as a facilitator; for both, my computer, internet, pre-existing network of folks who know and/or like and my work to build customers from. It worked. I liked having that direct relationship with the customer – taking every booking, delivering the output, taking small direct payment in exchange for a job well done, all adding up to – Enough. I kept the small boat of my life afloat, even thrived in my small way. I am proud of myself. Turns out I am grown up who can take care of herself after all. Who knew?
For me it certainly felt an easier and more manageable strategy than trying to find work with lots of arts organisations, theatres, public bodies – not only because it meant competing with every other creative for funds and opportunities in organisations beset with their own uncertainty and/or collapse. I have long been uncertain how or where to locate myself and my work in this bigger thing – The World. What is my identity or work? How do I describe it? Who are my audience, my people? (It’s so much easier to be a hermit.) As I began exploring in the title of my last show, what am I supposed to be doing? As an artist? A human being? The pandemic threw up this question even more urgently, not just for me. One decision I made without even thinking was not doing any work I don’t want to do anymore. Though that idea has been floating around for a while – I’m in my 50s, time running out to do what I want with what’s left of my working life – I was surprised how definite I was about that. So when I began creating work last year I wasn’t thinking about ‘The World’ or how or where my work might fit in it, I just created the work I wanted to explore and do, completely believing in it. A key feature of this was bringing a long-standing personal engagement with nature directly into it. In that both Words in the Wild and The Wheel of Nature hit something of the moment as it turned out. Last year was a threshold, where I began to manifest a more complete blend of all aspects of myself in my work, including relationship with nature, personal development, creative writing and performance. I am still exploring what my work is – what to call it – where it fits Out There – and maybe meandering my way through it via a blog might help.
I did find it hard to write or create anything much new last year, though creativity came into the events. What I am supposed to be doing in my creative work has been more difficult to access. But I find my head turning that way now. Another purpose for writing this blog is a space to explore a new project which has been on the back-burner for a while, which I call The Diary Project. I imagine it will be my last autobiographical work – having done 2 shows – Beyond Dreams of Aberystwyth about my Dad (2010-15), I Don’t Know What I’m Supposed To Be Doing about Mum (2015-20) – autobiographical work never being something I set out to do, I’d be kind of glad of a change of subject. But I’m not there yet. The Diary Project involves going through my entire life’s personal diaries, papers, writings in a bid to ‘make sense’ of my life, work, my relationship with writing – and to edit or dispose of this material one way or another before I die. I’ve always thought I would do this ‘one day’ – like when I retire. In more recent years that idea has become less abstract and I’ve thought it might be as well to start it sooner rather than later – and that it might be a rich source of new creative work. Sadly there are at least 5 banana boxes of this crap in the attic going back to adolescence. It is daunting and I expect excruciating which is why I have struggled to start. But I do want to (I certainly don’t want any other poor sod to end up with the job) – And it feels like there could be something rich in it – something about memory, legacy, mortality, the stories we create of ourselves, forgetting, putting the past away, creating the present and the future whatever that will be.
I’ll start next week.