The snow is falling slow and silent. The light is reflected, brighter, bolder. The trickling melt underlines the heavy silence. Under the duvet on the couch, cocooned in creativity, I’m enjoying the process of slow writing. I’m enjoying touching the writing everyday. I’m enjoying how random feelings and thoughts, ideas and experiences take shape. I’m mindfully pulling things together, holding fragments up to the light, turning them this way and that, questioning; do you fit, do you sing? Not even losing most of the writing I’d already completed for the mixed-genre memoir, and I mean lost, gone, never to be seen again writing, is deterring me or derailing me or worrying me. It’s like I’ve seen the light, something has shifted into place and I’m just enjoying the ride, not bothered about the destination. And that feels so good.
The first two weeks of November have come and gone. Fast.
The first week was all about conversations with people around the globe. And all of them seemed urgent and necessary. So I gave them my all. So that going into the second week, I had to think about my boundaries and start to control the conversations. Work more to my schedule and energy levels and needs rather than others.
The second week of November was no less demanding, as I had to plan a number of differences workshops that were/ are coming up. So this week has definitely been a lot of work going on behind the scenes to keep the shop front neat, sort of thing.
So my energy levels and attention spans have been up and down already this month and this has affected the time and attention and care I could offer up to my memoir.
Two weeks in then to the NaNoWriMo challenge and nearly 20000 words down. And considering all that I’ve just shared about November so far, I’m pretty pleased with the word count. Ideally, it would be good to be at 25000 as it is the half-way mark, but it is what it is. And it’s 20000 more words than I would have created if I’d not taken up this challenge. Win win I say.
I might not clock up as many words in the second half of the month as I move into editing mode. But we’ll see. The aim is to complete the current essay around grief as well as complete another essay about slavery, DNA and my body. So plenty tochall be getting on with and hopefully I’ve got a better handle on my diary as we enter the second half of the month.
Working in partnership with Northumberland Wildlife Trust, we bring you a unique and new creative writing workshop tapping into the wonder of nature.
The Trust is spearheading a special campaign to raise awareness about the importance of insects to all of life, including us humans. The Trust is trying to raise awareness as well as money that can be used to protect these vital players in life as we know it.
Taking inspiration from these small and mighty creatures, this workshop will be a 1.5 hour generative writing workshop where attendees will explore new ways to write about the natural world as well as our connection within it. Following a series of prompts and possibilities, participants will have a chance to share their work within the group.
As I shared in September, I might not be meeting up with people face to face, and staying home all cosy and safe, I’m becoming more social virtually as I appear on a number of different podcasts.
Well a couple more episodes came out last month which I think I should share here.
The Nurture Project, hosted by Sophy Dale, is a podcast series which came out of an online project on how we can nurture ourselves, which ran in 2020. This is a series which features podcast interviews with a range of inspiring and insightful creative small business owners, including myself. In this conversation, I talk about all things self-care, ranging from wild swimming to hand cream, and the importance of caring for our sources of inspiration as well as ourselves. Take a listen, there is wisdom to be shared.
The next conversation I want to share with you is with the lovely Naomi Woddis for The Two of Us Shorts. Originally broadcast on Reel Rebels Radio, here we discuss the power of creativity to work through trauma and my relationship with nature and its power to heal. This was such a juicy and liberating episode where I take a deep dive into the difficult stuff. Have a listen and let me know what you think by getting in touch.
I’ll continue reading a poetry book a day and writing a poem from the inspiration. But I’m steeping up my writing by taking part in the month long challenge of writing a novel, NaNoWriMo.org
it’s been a few years since I’ve taken on this challenge to write 50,000 words in 30 days but I feel I just need this accountability and energy this challenge brings to get my out of my no writing rut.
And I have already felt it’s benefits as I am 5000 word done. It’s amazing what can be done once you get your arse in the seat, turn up and write. Keep tuning in to see how I get on.
During these changing working conditions of moving into visual spaces to connect and share and create, I’ve been enjoying a lovely run of being a guest on a number of different podcasts, separate from The Earth Sea Love Podcast, connecting women of colour and nature.
As mentioned before, I was welcomed onto the Prompted By Nature Podcast with Helen Forester where we talked about working to get more black bodies out into nature with funding from the National Heritage Lottery Fund.
Since the first one, I’ve gone on to be a guest with Yarrow Magdalena with Daydreaming Wolves, where I enjoyed the opportunity to share about my creative practice and sea swimming and not being able to foretell the future but being okay with that.
On Speak from the Body, a podcast on practical ways to reconnect with the body and nourish your soul, hosted by Avni Trivedi, I had the opportunity to speak at length about my creative practice, visual journalling and how it saved my life, 5 years ago now.
And the final one I’ll share with you today, as there are more to come, is from the countryside charity CPRE, Campaign to Protect Rural England. In this episode I’m a guest with Professor Jules Pretty from the University of Essex, where we discuss the health and wellbeing benefits of spending time in the countryside and nature.
I’m stuck within
the healing threshold
drowning in grief.
to turn back,
to move on.
raised, I lick
a November thirst.
across the silken
land to peace.
give me your light;
a blister in this bitter air,
as once again
with head down
and heart up,
I set forth
into becoming adrift.
A few weeks ago, when I was in the thick of my separation and wondering how I was going to get through the rest of 2020, I made a commitment to myself to designate October as a creative retreat month. I’m not going anywhere, but I am protecting my time to retreat from the world and outside commitments in order to focus on my creative practice.
Due to circumstances, I’ve allowed things to get lost in transition. Focusing on what brings me joy, like reading and writing and creating haven’t been top of my list for ages, it feels. So protecting October, my favourite month of the year, my birth month, as time and space to re-engage with my creative projects and start some new ones felt right for me.
Only a few days into October, and I was inspired in a poetry workshop to attempt #thesealychallenge. This challenge is to read thirty-one poetry books or chapbooks in the thirty-one days of August. I know it’s October but I’m coming late to the party. But I feel this is just what I need to relight my fire, put pen to paper and write poetry.
So far this month, I’ve read 5 poetry collections and chapbooks. What I’m doing while reading is also collecting words, single words which I like the sound of, or I find are being used in new and usual ways. Words that stir my interest and create a reaction.
What this reading is doing is inspiring me to write again. So from just reading other people’s work, immersing myself in the world of poetry again, I’ve created 6 new poems. So I’m going all the way this time, and trying for 31 poems by the end of the month; 31 poems in 31 days.
This has already gotten me through a block, a fear that was starting to take hold of me that I might be only able to write while in crisis, while in an unhappy state. But by producing something over the last few days, I’ve now put that fear to rest. I’m back, reading and writing, writing and reading.
A special two-part creative workshop to develop new and exciting ways of observing and capturing your experiences with nature (especially our smallest creatures), led by Dr Sheree Mack, Writer in Residence at Northumberland National Park.
Thursday 8 October 10:30 – 12:00
Thursday 22 October 10.30-12.00
About the event
Inspired by our Action for Insects campaign, the group workshop (run virtually via Zoom) involves two 1.5 hour sessions (8th and 22ndOctober) to learn more about the fascinating and vital world of insects, and how you can help protect them in our region. The campaign is aimed at reversing the decline of our smallest creatures, of which 41% of species currently face extinction.
Dr Mack, will help develop your creative techniques, guiding you through a variety of ways to observe nature using words, imagery and audio to bring your experiences to life. Between workshops, you’ll be encouraged to collect your own experiences of the natural world, then you’ll have the chance to share these with the group, gaining feedback and insight into the journeys of yourself and others.
Anyone over 18 can join, so if you enjoy flexing your creative flair, want to find new ways of connecting to nature, or simply want the chance to meet and share experiences with others from the safety of your own home, then this workshop is for you!
For more details and to book click here.