Not Writing

I’ve always considered myself creative when it came to writing. I’ve put pen to paper many times over the years and have had a certain amount of satisfaction when a letter I’ve written to a friend has been well received. I’ve written poems and short stories and sitting down with my laptop has been my No. 1 hobby.

A couple of years ago I started to record my family history. This came about after my father died and despite years of him saying “I’ll write it all down” he never did, and it dawned on me that I had become “the older generation” and unless I got some of his colourful tales on to paper they would all be lost.

I started easily enough but then got myself in a muddle as each story involved different family members and I’d go off on a tangent and felt that anyone reading it would probably give up as it was becoming more disjointed by the word – and I was getting discouraged. In January 2020 I went away on a writing retreat. A 3-day course, I achieved so much and the one-2-ones I received from the tutor were invaluable. I returned home, bursting with renewed enthusiasm and managed to fit in time to write every day.

And then came the first lockdown in March 2020. After the initial shock I decided that once I’d had my daily exercise, I could spend the remainder of each day writing. But, of course, life got in the way. Firstly, both my adult children suddenly became embroiled in quite separate dramas and I was really powerless to help either of them and could only listen over the phone and be encouraging. Secondly, there was the difficulty getting food delivered. Sounds such a pathetic reason to get stressed and like my children’s problems it all did get resolved so after a few weeks I was clear to start writing again.

Except I didn’t feel like it. For a while I would boot up my laptop and stare at what I’d written and not be able to start. I resorted to rearranging my topics and other than make a complete mess of my notebook nothing creative happened at all. My daily walks got longer and longer so then I thought I’d keep a “lockdown” diary. I managed a “events so far” bit and lost interest. It was like existing in a fog. The only skill I honed was to avoid listening or watching the news more than once a day. I rekindled my love of jigsaws and I sit over them for hours. I have read a copious number of books on every conceivable subject. I attend zoom lectures courtesy of the WI college, Denman’s. That has become a lifeline. I’ve learned an amazing amount of stuff which, if I can retain, will serve me well in any future quizzes!

Here we are almost exactly a year later and I’m no further forward. This is the first time I’ve put pen to paper, so to speak, for months.  The pandemic and the doom-laden news is receding, but I still can’t concentrate long enough to return to my family story. I’m beginning to wonder if it’s because I actually have so much time on my hands. Before covid-19 I would write in short bursts in between walking the dog, lunching with friends, picking up grandchildren from school and continuing my charity work. Perhaps I need a deadline to work to? My fingers are crossed that once the restrictions are lifted and normality returns my urge to write will return. I really hope so.

Polly Perry.