Writer's Block, Painting and Crafting Oh My!
Updated: May 31
Two years ago, I received a kind invitation from Crosshouse Women’s guild. They asked me along to talk about my book, King Street, to King’s Road. I was more than delighted to oblige.
We postponed not once the date in the diary but twice as COVID-19 started calling the shots, and we went into lockdown.
People the length and breadth of the country found themselves living a life previously unknown and unimagined. A strange, dark, and woefully tragic time for so many.
Lockdown was the perfect opportunity to finish the book I was writing. I could dedicate a sizeable chunk of my days to unpacking the ideas in my head and arranging them on to paper. It did not happen.
‘The best laid schemes o’ mice an’ men gang aft a-gley’
Each day, my laptop beckoned me, willing me to caress the keyboard. It was very needy. I sat and looked at it, yearning for clever, creative plots and storylines to float through the ether like downy dandelion clocks, little puffballs crammed full of ideas looking for somewhere to bed in and grow.
Spring brought with it clear blue skies and sunshine. Mother Nature made every effort to impress, delighting us with simple, previously taken for granted, delights. The birds sounded chirpier; the grass looked greener; the air appeared to be fresher.
Maybe working on the land and getting dirt under my green fingernails would provide the motivation I was lacking. Gardening could provide the stimulus to produce ideas.
It did not.
The garden looked fabulous; I felt content and, more often than not, sipped a chilled glass of white on a sun lounger at the day's end admiring the fruits of my labour, all notions of writing forgotten.
Normally I am as happy as a pig in the proverbial, painting in the summerhouse, one of my happy places, with Classic FM playing softly in the background, listening to the birds twittering as they busy themselves with all things bird-like, the cows lowing, and the clip-clop of horses tramping along the lane.
I paint from the heart, completely self-taught. My style is unique, shall we say, and leave it there? My husband, remarkably, listened when I expressed a desire to paint a few years ago. That Christmas, he bought me everything I required to get started. It took me until March before I was brave enough to put my money where my mouth was and put brush to canvas.
A charming blue pot full of brightly coloured plants, a Mother’s Day gift from my girls, became my first subject. It was wonderful to discover painting was as relaxing and enjoyable as I hoped it would be.
‘If I can’t write then I will paint’ was my thought process. I looked at the pristine blank canvas that had obviously been in cahoots with the laptop. It was laughing at me too.
As summer turned into Autumn, my thoughts turned to crafting. I spent hours planning and making Christmas gifts for friends, family, and neighbours. I made soap and candles, tried decoupage, and made decorative pumpkins, baked, made advocaat, limoncello, and sloe gin, painstakingly labeling and decorating bottles, and jars. Kirsty Alsop was my go-to person for inspiration, her crafting for Christmas programmes became a firm favourite. Following her instructions, I made stockings, chutney, and amazing, spiced oranges...
So, now back to the invitation ‘Do they still want me? I wondered. Was the subject matter still relevant? As I approached the hall, my hands became clammy, my stomach was following a complicated knitting pattern, and I felt lightheaded. Lockdown has a lot to answer for.
There was no need for me to worry. I received such a warm welcome; the atmosphere was informal and friendly. After my presentation, we had a cuppa, question time, and a lively discussion. I enjoyed every minute (I hope they did too?)
The pandemic brought with it heartbreak, suffering, bewilderment, and gratitude. I got off extremely lightly in the scheme of things escaping with a severe case of writer’s block. That said, brick by brick, and not without a fight, the barrier has come tumbling down. I can see the writing road clearly now. The warm welcome combined with the PowerPoint presentation I created compelled me to revisit my book and my writing. A small spark of enthusiasm ignited the tinder-dry threads of passion still lurking inside me. I am writing again
‘Never give up on something that you can’t go a day without thinking about
Jacqueline Heron Wray