So I am back! Although by the time this post goes live I will be away again. This time on a wee holiday in Northumberland, it will be a welcome rest after the intensity of my two weeks in Leeds.
It was good two weeks, gave me much to think about. The most significant moment of learning for me came through a random conversation during a break with one of the tutors. It showed me once again that the best learning doesn’t come through formal education but in the cracks in-between.
It was a conversation about creativity, about how to get out of your own way, how to deal with blocks, nerves, performance anxiety etc. I came away from the two weeks feeling a bit more settled in myself and my work whatever that may be. I’m ready to reconnect with my own creativity, and really I have felt very disconnected from it for a while.
If I was to identify a precise moment my issues started then it would be Stanza in St Andrews where I attended an editing workshop. As far as I can tell it was a good one, everyone else seemed to enjoy it but I came out of it feeling utterly wretched. It highlighted all my anxieties about getting my writing ‘right’, about my lack of creative writing training and my lack of ‘proper poetic knowledge’ (whatever the fuck that is). One thought rang through my head during and after that session: I don’t belong here.
I don’t actually feel like I’ve belonged anywhere for a long time. I feel a bit at odds with the world. Certainly I’ve never been one of those popular people who seem to slide in and out of social groups with a kind of ease I can only dream of. Generally speaking I am lucky in that I tend to attract one or two close friends in every group (with the exception of one particular period which was so horrific I think it burned a permanent mistrust of people onto my brain that I still struggle to override). For a while I’ve felt this kind of pressure to find my place in the world, who the hell am I? Am I a writer, a performer, a director, a teacher, a facilitator, what? I wanted to be all wrapped up in a bow and delivered with a note to Creative Scotland who would welcome me with open arms and some funding to do whatever it is I do.
Unrealistic funding fantasies aside I feel a bit of pressure has lifted. It doesn’t really matter what I do at the end of the day. The important thing is that I find my way back to my own creative process, that I can connect with it again, connect with it in the way I was able to before I got all caught up in the right/wrong way to do things. I’m not ready to submit again but I feel ready to write again, really write. But to write what I want to write, to dig in and find myself in the words again and yes it will probably be a lot of bollocks a lot of the time because I don’t do things in a technically appropriate way, I don’t know all the tricks and rules, but it will be my work, my bag of shite and no one else can make a bag of shite exactly like me. I don’t need to be ‘good’ anymore, I just need to be, it is enough.