Taking Myself Out On A Date

I like to think of my creative practice, especially my writing as a lover. There are times when I need to fall back in love with my practice, my writing in particular. The muse might be acting shady or we might have just fallen out and not seen each other for a while. This is when I need to start dating my muse again.

In order to fall in love with my practice again, I need to start dating my muse again. I need to treat my muse like a lover and start putting dates in the diary. Make an effort to show up for my muse. Get dressed for an evening date. Spend time on my appearance. Put on my favourite perfume. Make my favourite drink and show up at the page. All part of the ruse to get my muse to show up and spend time with me again.

When I do this, start to treat my muse like a lover, I start to get excited about our time together. I look forward to meeting up, I enjoy the time we spend together and can’t wait until we meet again.

This is all part and parcel of attempting to keep me committed to my practice. To not allow anyone else or any other thing to come between me and my practice. As I need my creative practice like air. To be completely finished with my muse and my creative practice, to separate forever from my lover would be devastating to me, to my being.

So when I think or feel that I’m letting things slide, start taking things for granted and not even bothering to turn up at the page, I know it’s time to start paying special attention to my lover. To make the effort to show up and let them know that I do care for them. That I want to be with them. And that I love them and can’t do without them. I let them know how much joy they bring me. That I appreciate them and that I don’t want to be with them.

Treating my muse like a lover is not just a reminder to my muse that I care but it’s a wake up call to myself that I want them in my life. That I love them, my muse, my lover, my creative practice.

The Final 100 Days of Writing

My writing year hasn’t gone to plan.

At the back end of 2021, I put in for an Arts Council England, Developing Your Creative Practice grant. I didn’t get one but I made a promise to myself to follow the project plan I had to submit with this application for the first 6 months of 2022.

Things just didn’t go to plan from the very beginning of the year, with family illness and myself getting ill etc. I was knocked off course and never got back on during the year.

Until now. London Writer’s Salon ran a 100 Days of Writing Workshop last night. Then there was 100 days left of 2022. Where has the time gone?

I attended along with over 300 other people, working through the workbook to get recommitted to my Mixmoir. And it worked.

I’ve set myself some goals and targets for the final 100 days of writing for 2022. I figure, I can turn it out for others when I have to or need to, the recent BALTIC commission being a prime example. Well now I want to use this commitment to others and their demands to my own advantage and complete something that is important to me instead.

My goal is to complete the Mixmoir in the final 100 days of 2022. I figure it’s about 3 essays and about 15 poems I need to get it into a completed state by the end of 2022. And I might even place in the word ‘shitty’ first draft of the whole thing there too in order to ease the pressure off for perfection.

My guiding words for this process are fun and play and experimentation. I want to enjoy the process and I figure these values with help me a lot with this task.

I’ve been wanting to write this Mixmoir now for about 5 years and I think I’ve just been taking it and myself far too seriously. So I’m inviting in the fun and joy and excitement about the project again.

And I’ve got the last 100 days of 2022 to crack on with it. And these final days of the year are not empty. I’ve got plenty of outside commitments, family responsibilities and travel plans to keep me busy. But this might be the kick up the arse I need to just finish the damn thing.

This Mixmoir is an important step in establishing myself as an expert in the field of Black Nature. I want to use this text as the basis of the Earth Sea Live CIC business. As a speaker and facilitator and expedition leader. But it’s doing nothing to further the cause if it’s not finished or published yet.

So here I am biting the bullet, getting my head down and ploughing on through.

No hold up! I said fun and play and experimentation in order to enjoy the process.

So my shoulders are back, my head is facing the light and I’m skipping off into writing pleasureland for the final 100 days of 2022.

Let’s see what I create.

Walking and Writing Workshop

Presence 05/07/2022

I’m stepping back into The Sill: National Discovery Centre as past Writer in Residence for Northumberland National Park as well as current position as Creatrix in Residence for Hadrian’s Wall to facilitate a walking and writing workshop.

Taking inspiration from The Lost Spells: Listening to a Landscape of Voices exhibition, and book by Jackie Morris and Robert Macfarlane, this writing workshop will explore the power, glory and joy of nature.

Starting with the exhibition, we will use Jackie’s images as a field guide as we journey outside (in all weathers) to walk the landscape around The Sill and Hadrian’s Wall. With our sense of wonder stimulated and our creative pots full, we’ll return to The Sill to put pen to paper.

All genres of writing, journaling, imagining and creating are welcome in this workshop which is led by Hadrian’s Wall Creatrix and The Sill’s first writer in Residence, Dr Sheree Mack. The aim is to leave with a renewed sense of awe at nature and ourselves, as are we not all connected with nature as one?

More information and sign up for ticket here.

Developments on July’s Commitment

Longsands, Tynemouth

“How can the antagonist’s flaw(s) / strength(s) best affect the story arc as a whole? (Draw a card for each.) ”

I pulled the Spirit Weaver card for the flaw aspect of this prompt. Wha does this mean in terms of the mixmoir?

This is indicating how what I’m trying to create, the story is affected by magic. Or more so the lack of magic as I’m not truly or fully drawing upon my magic and dreams in order to complete the project.

This card is showing its to me to communicate how I’m not utilising my full power in order to manifest this dream, this book because I’m looking at it the wrong way/ handling it the wrong way.

I’m floundering in low vibrational energies, negative thinking about this book, its content. The stuff I actually put in the book, what I’ve been writing about had been forcing on the negativity instead of focusing on the good.

Okay writing about racism and white supremacy culture isn’t good for the soul, my mental well-being for sure. And reading about it again and again isn’t good either. I know that higher vibrational energy would come through the joy of wanting to create/ write it.

The making out with my lover kind of feeling, which I have experienced with this project in the past has been missing of late. As well as within the content; the sharing the joy and pleasures of being in nature.

Maybe I could make a commitment for July when continuing with sharing about the mixmoir daily that I could focus on the good stories, the good experiences.

Maybe, I could be looking for the good news to share in the book. The good interchanges and interactions. No doubt this would help raise my vibrations and in turn flow into the book but also how I’m living my life in the present now.

Maybe I could every time I’m with nature , I could capture the experience, in words and image, and share them here and build my mixmoir around these moment. Being with her and cherishing her.

July is just around the corner

A393, Cornwall

June is coming to an end. My challenge for this month, through posting each day, was to share content from my mixmoir as well as sharing about the process. I know I haven’t posted here everyday, or touched my mixmoir everyday either. But I know I’ve been much more engaged in the project this month than any other month this year because of this challenge.

To give myself a fair chance in getting to grips with the mixmoir, and because we are easing into Summer, with the school holidays imminent, I intend to continue to turn up for this practice in July.

I’m factoring in energy levels, commitments and time in the forthcoming month, and rather than change track now when I feel as I’m just getting into the swing of things, I’d like to go deeper into the mixmoir, especially around my current thinking about healing.
I’m satisfied with my decision. And this has only inspired me to continue. #onwards

Intrinsic – a new anthology of writing

It is with great delight that I share with you this forthcoming publication.

Late last year, I submitted a completed mixmoir essay to Eleanor Cheetham, at Creative Countryside. This was the end result of an application submitted on invitation by Eleanor last August.

Now, coming next month, through a successful Indigogo fund raising campaign, Intrinsic will be out in the world. And I’m overjoyed to see this project succeed. It’s been a while in the making, which isn’t a complaint as I am an advocate of ::SLOW:: but it was touch and go if this project was going to come to fruition due to finances. and that would have been a great shame and disservice if this beauty was lost to the world.

An anthology of 12 deep-rooted connections with the more-than-human world, this book is not like any other nature writing text out there. This anthology supports and uplifts the diverse voices which exist within this writing genre at the same time as expanding and redefining what nature writing can be.

I’m one of the twelve writers featured in this anthology. I took the time, and the much needed space, to explore something that I’ve been carrying around within my body and soul for a while; the link to the sea for my ancestors and me.

Seascape- Grief and Grievance and Healings is the title. It’s a narrative mixmoir piece rich in memories and hauntings, voices and references. I’m really proud of this baby and it was such a delightful process of creation throughout it all.

Please consider checking the anthology out, published by Creative Countryside and available to buy next month, July 2022.

Let’s Start with a Poem

Extract from my recent presentation for the Women and Wetlands Panel Discussion

When Petrified Trees Stand Up and March Into the Sea

I carve out solitude to wander
wide open shores

sanddunes, pebbles and
wooden limbs

Submerged
a forest of trees
so tall they flowed
above the clouds

what we cannot control,
we destroy and call it progress.

We advance like the tide
to claim what
we have
no right to claim

concrete blocks,
seaweed and dead seals,
emerge from
frothy waves
and marram grass.

unseasonal storms
uproot ancient trees
while manmade
concrete lines
remain in tact
in place in defence

here a legion of
foreign bodies marched
to expand an empire,
build a wall
then leave it to moss.

Bizzing dragonflies,
shrubs of wax mirtle
and the coconut vanilla
scent of golden gorse

Some day soon
all this will be gone,

gorse, grass, concrete wall,

washed away like blood
as the sea returns to the source,

returns to where it belongs.

There’s a small hamlet, Low Hauxley nestled behind sand dunes along a long and quiet stretch of sandy beach on the Northumberland coast.
Here along the high tide line stumps of an ancient forest are visible.

It is believed the stumps were preserved by peat and sand and are believed to date back to more than 7000 years and are the remains of Doggerland- an area of bogs, marches and forest that connected the British Isles to mainland Europe.

Archaeologists have also uncovered animal footprints and it is believed red deer, wild boar and brown bears would have roamed ancient Doggerland forest.

These petrified trees. This really blew my mind.

My name is Dr. Sheree Mack. I’m Creatrix : she who makes.

My practice manifests through poetry, storytelling, image and the unfolding histories of black people. I engage audiences around black women’s voices and bodies, black feminism, grief and healing, nature, identity and memory.

I advocate for black women’s voices, facilitating national and international creative workshops and retreats in the landscape, encouraging and supporting women on their journey of remembrance back to their bodies and authentic selves. This journey is supported and recognised by Mother Nature.

I’m the founder of Earth Sea Love, which is a social enterprise, offering opportunities to People of the Global Majority living in the north east of England to develop a deeper connection with/in nature.

The Earth Sea Love Podcast has developed out of these experiences and aims to change the narrative around who has a right to have a relationship with nature. I’ve recently been writer in residence for Northumberland National Park Authority. A black-led nature project I will add. At the moment I’m Creatrix in Residence for Hadrian’s Wall part of the 1900 years festival.

My Practice is a Healing Practice.

The Practice of ::SLOW:: is how I engage with my work and the world. Living within White Supremacy Culture, we are indoctrinated into certain principles and practices which benefit the few rather than the many.

Leaving aside racism and the systematic destruction of Black, brown and indigenous peoples, White Supremacy Culture, perpetuates the pursuit of perfectionism, product over process, and quantity over quality, to name but a few.

This means that the majority of us live our lives at speed, with a greater sense of urgency, with feelings of never being or doing enough, resulting in reduced contact to ourselves, our intuition and inner wisdom.

Slowing down supports me on my journey back to self and ultimately self-love and healing. Being and walking with/in nature teaches me how to slowdown and pay attention and just be.

Nature shows me that there is an abundance rather than a scarcity. It is through these practices that I fell in love with nature.

Nature and I are connected. We are one, therefore falling in love with nature, I fell in love with myself. This in turn means I turn up in life, in connection with others not only as a better version of myself but in a better place to offer love to other people.

Women and Wetlands

Last night I was part of a panel discussion which tackled the subject of women and wetlands.

Crag Lough, seen from Peel Crags, Hadrian’s Wall

I was asked by Elizabeth-Jane Burnett at Northumbria University to be part of this event and share my work around my residence at Northumberland National Park and my explorations of peat bogs.

I wasn’t really sure what to expect about this event or what I was going to share. But on reflection now, I’m so glad that I was invited to take part because I learned so much about peatlands within the UK, around the world and the special place they hold within the global climate crisis.

So much of my language around nature and the environment has been formed through white supremacy culture which has been biased on colonialism and imperialism and capitalist consumption. And of which I am at great pains now to unlearn and find a new language or it is just a re-memory of the language of my ancestors where there is no separation between us and nature.

Something that was raised last night by Khairani Barokka, which was totally new to my knowledge and way of thinking was that within indigenous communities gender was much more fluid and diverse. The binary system of male and female/ he and she which we take as a given now, as the norm, is a construction and part of the colonist program.

That the idea of “the coloniality of gender,” which might have seen the binary gender system in Europe but was not the case for indigenous populations around the world who were brutalised, moved off the lands and eliminated through genocide. This is going to require more reading on my part but it will be completed eagerly as it’s more evidence of how this system to live and breathe is a construct of power for a few white people over the rest of us all.

I share an extract of my presentation here.

Falling Behind Or Going At My Own Pace?

The last week has been a bit of a patchy presence here. It’s been a bit hit and miss. And I could beat myself up and think I’m falling behind or I could just look at it as going at my own pace.

I’m of the mind that with this challenge, connecting and sharing about my mixmoir each day, isn’t the kind that lends itself well to playing catch up. I think these words and images of catch-up would be hollow and lack much development for the whole book. They would be just filling up space and hitting that target of posting on the blog each day. Which in the scheme of things doesn’t really help/move forward the mixmoir.

So consider this going forward: if I don’t post here each day in June, I’m not going to play catch up in order to have 30 complete posts for the month. However, if on one day I feel the urge to post more than once, then so be it ( like today maybe?)

I just appreciate the flexibility I’m creating here for myself as well as offering myself patience and grace. This is a learning practice but I’m grateful that it is part of my practice now.