The fact that I have been a writer for most of my life should tell me something about myself. But it is something I have only just worked out (I can be a bit slow) - I need to write. This idea was further reinforced when I saw another quote this morning which says 'writing is about being alive.' (Roselle Angwin, Writing the Bright Moment, p.15) You will know from my recent posts that I have some more major rewrites to do but I haven't been able to get to them, work has got in the way. There have been several meetings and conferences. I have pulled together the latest edition of Write4Children and rewritten an academic book proposal, but none of this has left me time to write what I need to write. My own stuff. During this time I have been having various conversations with Jen Webb and Nicky Schmidt (check out Nicky's blog http://absolutevanilla.blogspot.co.uk/) about feeling disaffected and almost feeling 'poisoned'. And though it feels a physical thing it is not, I need to answer that itch to write and to stop feeling guilty about it. Just go on do it, Ness!
But I don't think this just happens to me. I think if you have a creative bone in your body you have to ensure you do whatever it is that makes you creative otherwise you lose balance in your life. I can see it in colleagues and good friends. I know so many in academia who are currently struggling with ill health. Often they will have to do a huge amount of academic writing rather than their own. I have watched colleagues and friends become increasingly stressed as they produce the necessary academic 'outputs' which must then be disseminated on a world-wide front and, therefore, suitably REF-able. Those in academia will understand exactly what I mean here. REF means Research Excellence Framework which is the new system for assessing the quality of research in UK universities. The pressure is huge. It is worth noting that often creative outputs do not count! When they are given the chance to take a step back and start doing their own work again there is a noticeable difference, their stress levels reduce and their spirits lift. They start to smile again.
Maybe there is a lesson in this for us all and I know it is one that both Jen and Nicky agree with - it is important to find balance. To create those moments to do your own work. To stop and breathe and remember why you do what you do - for me it is what makes me who I am these days, I write because it makes me feel alive.
Seems appropriate to play one of my favourties: Goyte's 'Somebody That I used to know'