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.
“The woman who is willing to make that change must become pregnant with herself, at last. She must bear herself, her third self, her old age.”
Ursula K. Le Guin
I love Autumn. I always have but it’s just now, in the last few years, that I’ve really embraced this love. Confessed this love to anyone who would listen. Maybe it’s because I was born during this season. Maybe it’s the feeling of beginnings I have for the season with the return to school. Or maybe it’s the array of fiery colours.
There is something about the light during this season which touches my soul and brings me hope with a tinge of sorrow. Each year, during this season, we used to travel to Barcelona for a week or so. And there, the light at this time of year, is even more pronounced. The nights are drawing in and the temperatures are lowering but when you get that light, that golden, warm light during an Autumn day, well the world doesn’t seem such an awful place. You can see and appreciate its beauty.
Many moons ago, I created a writing retreat in the mountains surrounding Rome, Italy, taking inspiration from the changing seasons within the landscape. The landscape’s on the change during Autumn and I wanted to explore this through creative means with others hence the retreat amongst the olive groves and rich colourful berries. Again there was a certain kind of light that would progress down the mountain through the day and rest into the evening with a creamy glow.
There’s hope during this season but also a necessity of letting go. We see this with the falling leaves, the flowers drooping , turning brown and crumpling into dust at the touch of a hand. There’s the ending of growth, death even, to make room for the next stage of development and growth and life.
I’m entering ( or could I already be there?) the Autumn of my life. In all honesty, I have been for the last few years. Since the pandemic, if not before, when there has been a great shedding of things, people, relationships, and responsibilities. I refuse to carry on, carrying the burdens of the world on my shoulders, trying to do it all instead of acknowledging the changes and entering this next phase of my life with grace.
This is what I’ll be exploring during this Autumn season. The beauty and grace and changes of the season. Within nature but also within myself. During Autumn, there’s a letting go, a surrender to what is, letting go of what was and a tenderness as there’s a slow progression into the next phase.
I’m not turning my back on my ageing process but I’m probably grieving the loss of youth, attention and usefulness. But this is the time, in that golden light, to embrace my condition of changing woman. Greet the transformations that are happening inside and outside of me with love. Like my love for Autumn. Autumn is here. She is beautiful and fiery. And definitely not silent.
I’m in North Wales. On a swimming residency. The heat and crowds have been killing me though.
Planning to keep cool with water. Inside and out. But the scenery here is amazing. There’s an ancient vibe to the place. I really get the felling that these mountains have been here for centuries and will be here long after I’ve gone.
There’s a timelessness about mountains which force me to step off the busyness and into the calm and collected stance of stillness.
Just like a mountain. Over the next few weeks, as we ease into the summer holidays, I’ll be here in fits and starts. Not putting any pressure on myself to produce as I’m tired.
I’m tired and need to fall back in love with creativity. And I also need something to say. So enjoy the summer and maybe see you back here. But if not over the summer, see you in Autumn.
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.
There are times when I have so much I want to say but don’t know how. Ideas come and go and those moments of connection, when something clicks and I light up. And then flounder in how to communicate it. How to express what lies within.
There are plenty of times I have something to say but doubts and fears get in the way of expressing them. I long to be more courageous and bold in my expression without fear of percussions or judgements.
I know what I think and feel goes against the grain and to express these things in public would invite the gaze, backlash and cancel culture.
For example, we’ve just had a four day bank holiday, where there were parades and street parties and celebrations for Queen Elizabeth being on the throne for 70 years. But really what is there to celebrate? For me it angers as for these 70 years, people have paid for the royal family upkeep. But more infuriating is that the Queen is a figurehead of colonialism; the subjugation and exploration of Black and brown bodies around the world for centuries. And as a Black person I’m expected to shut up, celebrate this and be grateful.
But to say these things to anyone, I’d be the one with the issue, unpatriotic with a chip on my shoulder as someone recently threw at me when I described a racist incident I’d experienced which was tried to explained away as something else.
Just how it bugs me, when the term ‘women’ is used there is a silent, hidden (white) before it. That the default setting for woman is white and anything else such as Black woman is the ‘other’. To point this out would invite the comment that I always have to play the race card, or not everything is about race? Not that when someone uses (white) woman or (white) women that they do not see me included.
A few years ago, I started reading Burning Woman by Lucy H. Pearce. I felt the rallying cry for women to take back their power. To not hide from or be scared of the fire burning within. “She who dares. She who does what they say cannot be done, must not be done. She who tries and fails. She who does it her way.”
But coming back to it today, the words jar. I identify with the burning passion and rage inside of me that I need to express and enact upon, but I don’t feel my whole being/ experience/ body is contained within this book or within the term ‘woman’. I know that if I dare and do what I want to do, succeed or fail, the repercussion as so much more dangerous, dire for me as a Black woman. Not even acknowledging this within this book, or other books I’m reading excludes my experience as well as makes me feel as if I have the problem, and not that white supremacy culture is the issue.
Reading Five Nights in Paris by John Baxter to reconnect with the place, I’m having to turn part of myself off because there are certain things he says that I could find offensive. Throw away comments about African-America jazz musicians, artist or writers who made their home in Paris are not given their proper respect/ admiration/ regard as fellow human beings. Some points I feel their talent or success is not theirs alone but down to the white people they were befriended by or associated with.
I think what these reading experiences are illustrating for me, except for stoking my internal fires, is how much my lens/ gaze/ perception has been readjusted, changed and re-educated. How I’m no longer duped by white supremacy culture and how I now see behind the veil, the workings and manipulations. I no longer accept them or toil under them in silence.
Yes I feel that fire in my belly, and I’m using it to fuel what I’m doing outside of me. I may still have some fear of being burnt by it, my passion, my voice, my expressions but my greatest fear is remaining silent about the fires burning outside of me which are denied, overlooked or dismissed. And I’m ready to challenge whoever is lighting them and keeping them burning.
Writing my mixmoir on my terms is my way of allowing free rein for all the things I need to express and share in order to not be consumed from within by my fire and rage. The writing process is taking the flames and creating something beautiful and scorching.
I started my Patreon Page in April 2018 with the focus on Slow Writing.
The Art of Slow Writing
“When our lives change, when the world changes, we must reinvent ourselves as writers.” – Louise DeSalvo.
Taking inspiration from Louise DeSalvo’s book, The Art of Slow Writing, I’m choosing to create fine writing; writing of quality and writing of worth. I believe in order for this to happen, I need to find my way back to slow writing.
Slow writing is a meditative practice, creating time and space for understanding my relationship to my writing, the writing process and working towards my best work.
I envisioned it as the space where I wrote the memoir ( memoir then, Mixmoir now).
I’ve been writing a creative non-fiction memoir which includes personal essays, poetry, quotes, paintings, photography etc and this continues as this piece of creation centres the black woman’s body with/in nature. What I envision now is this piece taking on a more critical and political perspective with climate / environmental justice taking up space as this is my reality, our reality, even if there are systems in place which would lead us to believe otherwise.
Using my art is my resistance, is my activism and I just see it as time to start owning it. Blatantly so.
All that I’ve been wanting to achieve and working towards has morphed into one – this idea of black / brown bodies with/in nature. This is my full-time obsession and I’ve been making big changes in my personal life to reflect and accommodate this. This includes Patreon.
It was within this space that I created the term Mixmoir to describe what I’m trying to create. There, here, everywhere.
When you take on a project, a writing project that is arduous and long and messy, there’s a tendency to get lost along the way. Get tangled up in the details, get into your own head and manipulate your own weaknesses and doubts to the point of stop writing and just spending your time and energy just wishing.
I’ve got to the point of feeling sick and tired about feeling/acting/behaving this way. This inactivity within a writing project I feel so deeply about. Which is so vital to my being.
So this is me attempting to change the story and get the damn book complete on my own terms by any means necessary by glueing my arse down to the seat and just writing.
Nothing beats journaling in bed. Still half-asleep but fresh coffee bringing me around. And the day ahead. Expanding or constructing as I see fit.
I come to the page and allow my mood to guide me. What page to put pen to or image or colour.
It’s my intuition who leads the way, gently. Before my intuition was dead and gone. Repressed and forgotten. But slowly, through trust and patience my intuition is very much in the driving seat these days.
And I like it this way. She never sees me wrong but keeps me safe, creative and present.