The Beauty of Failing

Loch Lomond

Last week I attempted to walk the West Highland Way, again. And I failed again.

Around the mid point, well 52 miles in, I suffered an injury; a stress fracture in my right foot. It became too painful to continue. I was gutted.

After making the decision, I took my usual day to feel all the feels and then I got back up again. I switched this failure ( in terms of not completing the whole 96 miles) into a positive.

I walked along the byways and drovers roads and old railway tracks and had a great time being with nature. A week of forecast rain never materialised. The weather was bright and pleasant and welcome.

River Fallon

And the scenery was to die for. But I knew I couldn’t continue at the pace I was going. I had to weigh up the odds; continue to prove what? Or to stop and reduce further injury?

It also got to the point of no longer enjoying it. Because I was in pain and exhausted and feeling sorry for myself, I couldn’t enjoy the walking anymore. I couldn’t look up from the trail and breathe in the air and appreciate the view. My focus became the pain and how to get it to stop.

So I left the trail. Disappointed in myself but also proud of myself. I didn’t carry on seeking glory and jeopardising my body and the rest of my plans for the year and beyond. I took this hit of not reaching my goal in order to move through other goals easier or smoother.

I’ll not lie, I am upset about it. And had a funk about it. But at the same time, I appreciate the experience. I had such a lovely time waking up at the side of Loch Lomond with the last of the stars disappearing into a pinking sky over the glistening water. I felt blessed. And I still do feel this way to have had this opportunity of walking 52 miles from the lowlands to the Highlands of Scotland. Thank you.

Craig Royston

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.

Fiery Autumn Love

“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.

Summer Loving

It’s been a short sharp second they’re since I’ve been here.

I’ve been enjoying the fruits of summer. The long hot days and nights. The light. The carefree feeling that a summer breeze brings. Being off the clock and not having to worry about the time.

I’ve also been busy working on the BALTIC commission and really enjoying the process. I’m loving seeing ideas come to fruition.

But this time can’t last forever. I know season’s change but so learning to live in the present with gratitude and grace.

Stand Still and Rest

Llyn Ogwen, Capel Curig, Snowdonia

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.

Soon come.

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.

The First of July

This week has been a bit hit and miss around being here. I was tired after my return from Cornwall.

If you want to find out more about how that residency went please consider jumping over to my Patreon page and checking out my posts there. I shared my reflections daily while I was away. It was a good practice to keep up as I went through the experience.

Okay so today I’m going to spend time planning out the month so I can move forward with the Mixmoir. As I mentioned this week, I’m continue with this challenge of showing up daily for the Mixmoir but going to focus on the joy of nature connection.

I’ll pop back here later today with the updated plan. This is me making myself/ keeping myself accountable as God know’s I could let things slide just from tiredness. But I will rest this month but this is going to be radical joyful rest.

What this space!