It was Hemingway who said, 'Writing, at its best, is a lonely life'.
Writing is something that we will often do alone, but does that mean it is a 'lonely life' or do we just have that need for solitude that makes one perceive that writing is a lonely occupation?
I can't say I've ever felt lonely when I'm writing because my head is so full of ideas and characters rattling around in there, chatting away to me in their raw language that I interpret and hone for the page. Time passes without me knowing, I'm engrossed in what I am doing. I look up and it's lunchtime already.
Sometimes we do need to share what we're doing with someone else, a collaboration or a mentoring, someone to coach us from the sidelines or dive deep into the fray alongside, to wrestle those ideas into a story, a poem, a song, a film script. I was reminded of this when I was out gardening the other day, alone with my spade and shears, rummaging about amidst a tangle of weedy horror, in despair because the more I weeded, the worse things got.
Then I looked up and there were my two wee mates from next door, Poppy and Mr. Boy, appearing silently from behind a clump of hydrangea. I encouraged them to pick up some tools and get stuck in but they just sat and stared at what I was doing. However, their mere presence and intense interest in my horticultural labours spurred me on and soon my garden waste bucket was full and the mission was accomplished.
Afterwards, the three of us retired to the deck where we lay in the sun for a while to bask in the glory of our achievements.
I've noticed in my work with writers that yes, the writing life can be heavy going at times, because we are essentially on our own and can get bogged down, tangled up, overwhelmed and it can be so helpful to have someone like Poppy and Mr. Boy who show up, hang out with you, encourage and cheer from the sidelines. Such collegial support can help restore faith and get back on track.
If you need someone to cheer you on, come and see me. Book in for a one or two hour mentoring session and, who knows, those two precious wee buddies from next door might pop in and join us for a cup of tea.
Well here we are again … Level Three in Auckland with road blocks at the Super City boundaries and people on edge in New Plymouth where potentially infectious people did some travelling and sightseeing. Long lines at the testing centres and a 3-4 hour wait to get through the boundary checkpoints.
Our neighbourhood is quiet again this morning as people sleep in, stay home, no morning commute happening. And it's mighty good weather for staying home as it's rainy, muggy, cloudy with more rain to come. Perfect for catching up on those saved movies and stacks of summer reading books from the library.
Or doing some writing!
Most seem to have met this latest development with a shrug and a sigh as it is something we expected could happen and hoped would not. We have been fortunate though, exceedingly so, being able to enjoy our summer holidays and events while so much of the world is suffering through wave after wave of the ongoing struggle with this lethal COVID-19.
Sure thing, it's a bummer being housebound again and it's an anxious time as we wait for more information about this latest community outbreak. There are concerns for our work and incomes, whether we can get out and do the things we need to (for example, the Warrant of Fitness is due on the car), worries about our families and health, and whether we can place our trust 100% in those who are tasked with keeping us safe.
It's a set back but there are positives.
We're all OK.
Our little neighbourhood here is a microcosm of support - we're communicating over the fences and in the street (socially distant), hanging out on our respective front porches and chatting, keeping each other up to date with the latest news and the do-you-need-anything kindnesses. The phone buzzes, it's someone checking in. It fills you with warmth.
These few days provide opportunities to take some 'me' time, a bit of 'time out', take a breather, do some writing, get started on that book or poem you've been thinking about. Writing and reading are good distractions when times are tough, so indulge, heartily.
Summer is an easy-going time but most of us were already back on the treadmill of work and obligation. Now we've stopped in midstream. OK, so, step out of the current, make your way to the riverbank, take a seat, and watch the water go by for a day or two.
Yes it's summer - long, languid days at the beach and a Summer Writing Salon or two at The Writing Place. What could be better?
I took this photo from behind my drum kit at our annual Jazz Concert in John's Garden. This is our third year and the jazz takes place on the Saturday of Anniversary Day weekend here in Auckland. We set up the band under the awning in my neighbour John's back yard, invite all the folks living up and down the street, and have an afternoon of good music and fun. They bring their folding chairs and drinks, find some shade under the trees and settle in to enjoy themselves.
This year we had a seven-piece band: drums, keyboard, a saxophonist, a trombonist, a guitarist, bass and vocalist. Fabulous. The music cheered the souls and spirits of everyone who gathered in John's garden.
Summer is also the time for writers to get together for a relaxing afternoon of writing and we had a grand old time at the Summer Writing Salon here at The Writing Place in January. Six writers joined me for a good session of writing to timed exercises, sharing the resulting work, discussing and offering good constructive feedback. Some of those attending had projects under way that they presented to the group, asking for ideas, guidance and some inspiration. All in all, it was a wonderful afternoon with an extraordinarily talented group of creative women.
Summer is about sharing and enjoying music or writing or any kind of creative activity, settling down in some of our most beautiful places to get inspired, to create, and have fun. Goodness knows we need it after the year 2020 when the world changed so dramatically for everyone.
Creativity helps us to 'download', process those feelings of uncertainty that underpin our days as COVID continues to plague us, ease them somewhat so we can relax and our mind can travel a different path, at least for a while.
I encourage you to write, play music, share your creations with others. Get out into this beautiful summer. Get inspired.
Get writing. Now.