I find myself taking my time when returning from tasks outside of the house, taking the Ghost Lake route, my mind wandering the contours, the black peat fields, the terraced valley sides. I watch the crows, I watch the way the rain makes the leafless trees darker, so that their bark is black, the water filling every cell, every crevice, every crack. I feel like I am absorbing this week in the same way, letting the darkness of it into me, filling me up until it comes out of my mouth, or at least out of my fingers, leeching out of my finger prints, through the pen, the computer, onto the white of the page. This is where I am right now. This week has been hugely challenging. I had two writing days planned and ended up under a blanket watching rubbish on TV and weathering it out instead. I can’t talk about the thing that happened mid week, only to say that it upset me immensely, and ate into my confidence and made me question myself. It was to do with a teaching job I have. What happens sometimes, and this is not new to me, when you put yourself forward, when you get up in front of people and trust that you know something that is helpful, something you can impart to them, is that just by being in their line of sight you become a target, a kind of collateral damage, a place in which the fury of whatever is going on in people’s lives at that time can be thrown. Sometimes people don’t have the skills to manage their own emotional stress. Who the hell does, after the last two awful pandemic years in which all the ‘normal’ trauma of being a living human being has been neatly packaged inside the trauma of a disease that has picked people off with what feels like no rhyme or reason. We have all been in a state of pre flight or fight for so long, no wonder people are struggling to find outlets for it. But still, my confidence is knocked, my enjoyment of one area of my life that I was already pushing hard against the anxiety of self doubt is spoiled a bit. Still, small stuff, really. At the end of the week I found out my dad is poorly, proper poorly. The sort of poorly where you are waiting for news on outcomes, scans, treatments to see how the next part of your life will be. You have to just ride it out, I guess, there’s nothing to be done but to just do it, just get through the days and see what happens. There’s no controlling stuff like that, but I remind myself that I’m allowed to be a bit down about it all. It is not happening to me, but involves me, it’s happening to my dad and I struggle to imagine how this is going to effect him, how it will ripple through the family, how it will effect us all. The certainty is that whatever happens, things will be changed now, and a door is shutting behind us, there’s no going back. What I’ve learned to do it give myself an allotted time to be a complete drama queen; wallowing in my own misery, and then after that, until that ‘wallowing time’ is necessary again, I try to go back to what I am doing in my normal life, and to grasp it and enjoy it. When I wasn’t stuffing my face with wine and chocolate and whimpering under my blanket I had my planner out. Things like the negative ‘teaching thing’ that happened last week often feel like signs, a reminder that that I’m perhaps getting entrenched on the wrong route, that that part of my life has become bigger than it was meant to be, it was only part of the plan I set myself all those years ago, that it is a stepping stone to the big goal, the main goal. I opened an A4 page of my planner and put the Big Goal on the far side of the page, then separated the rest of the page into smaller and larger boxes, the stepping stones to get there. I always feel better when I have a clearly defined plan. And then I got my laptop out and wrote a flash fiction piece; something I wouldn’t normally write, to remind myself that I can, that I have talent, that I have ability, that I am not stuck in one place, that I am moving forward. The piece is good. Is it excellent? It could be, with a little tinkering.
Tomorrow is a new day, though the rain is set to continue for a good week. I have lots to look forward to: I am loving my own The Caged Bird Sings course, my Friday afternoon group are so engaged and willing, and kind and fun, it is genuinely the highlight of my week. Next week I’m also looking forward to running a workshop for the Poetry Business on de-romanticising the rural, you can book a place here. I love talking to people about poetry and finding new ways to write, so I’m really looking forward to working under the PB banner. And I’m looking forward to the private course chats I have scheduled over the week. I’m also meeting a new writer friend for coffee. It’s going to be a very ‘people heavy’ week, something I’m not used to, being the rural hermit that I am, but perhaps something that will do me good.
I see so many people facing so many challenges lately, I want to give us all a hug. Spring’s on it’s way, though, catkins in the lane, the jackdaws are poking their heads into last year’s tree-hole-nests. We just have to weather it out.
Until next time