As usual when I have had a break from blogging – I think about two or three weeks? – it takes a while for me to decide what to blog about.
I have just come back from a week at Lumb Bank, formerly the home of poet laureate Ted Hughes. It is now owned by Arvon, a company that put on workshops and residential courses for writers of all kinds. I did a songwriting course, led by my heroes Kathryn Williams and Michele Stodart. Two excellent songwriters. Kathryn in particular has been a huge inspiration to me. It took a huge gulp of courage to enable me to sign up to do this. All those imposter syndrome questions reared their ugly heads: “Am I good enough?” “ Will I be able to do the work they set?” “Will it matter that I don’t play an instrument?” “Will I be the oldest there?” “Will I understand what’s being asked of me?” You get the gist… anyway, after asking a few people I admire and trust for a bit of feedback on the work I’ve done, I decided to do it.
I have to say it was marvellous. Of course I was good enough, of course I could do the tasks set, of course it didn’t matter that I couldn’t play an instrument, and no, I wasn’t the oldest, and yes, I understood perfectly well! The group of my fellow students were lovely, supportive, encouraging. The culture of the group was set as a safe place to play, collaborate, experiment, and show each other what we had done. Apart from a small hiccup in proceedings, ultimately solved by Kathryn and Michele, the week was inspiring, interesting, full of imagination!
So I have come back all fired up with enthusiasm, but completely exhausted. I think it will take me a while to recover, and to get to a point where all I have done has been digested and contemplated and possibly written about too. Maybe here, maybe not…
Having slept better than ever on Sunday night, and Monday night, and after having extra top-up naps, this morning I felt the need to visit the studio. Having spent the week inside my head, I felt a great need to draw, large, arms reaching, making marks as far away as I could. And so that is what I did, I only lasted about three hours, but I spent it making large marks on large paper. I used coloured soft pastels on watercolour paper, then spread them with a little water. The paper is crumpled and creased a little, and my marks follow those contours. Next time I will draw over them, probably in ink.
It’s good to be home.