April 5th, 2011

Look and look again

Regular visitors to this blog and my website will see that there is a new banner and new photos.  These were all taken in my garden recently at the first sign of spring.  The close up of the bee is my favourite. Scanning the garden with the camera I zoomed in on a shrub and saw the bee.  Focused on the bee I saw pollen dust and hair; garden life in detail and depth I hadn’t seen at first sight.

I love taking photographs and with a digital camera there is the freedom to ‘have a go’ and decide at the end if the photos are worth keeping.  The camera lets me see in a different way.  Through the viewfinder I capture a framed version of what I saw with my eyes but as a segment, one view of the whole, and by moving the camera left or right, or up or down, I can see more views, each time reframing what’s there, taking out and putting in; creating and discovering anew.

In writing (and other creative pursuits) we do that too.  We look and look again, closing in then panning out, depicting and portraying new worlds and characters with colour and dimension.  It’s a freedom we can enjoy in most areas of creativity.  We can have fun trying, experimenting, and seeing what happens.  We are free to discard or keep.   We might reject a piece at first but keep it and coming across it later discover it holds the seed of something new.

March 8th, 2011

‘If I build it ….’

Looking at the garden this morning I noticed the litter of half-emptied pots and dotted heaps of clippings – remnants of jobs curtailed by winter. Now it’s a new gardening year and I look forward to summer strawberries and lettuces, and the usual harvest of apples and plums.  It’s joyful and satisfying and I love the sowing, planting and pruning to make it happen.

Yet I don’t mourn the losses:  pea plants unwatered and withered; swedes I thought were turnips and pulled from the ground too early; close planted carrots, stunted and deformed.  I accept these as a consequence of half-hearted gardening.

I care for, and give time and attention to, a long list of things and people but have realised that I can’t be ‘whole hearted’ with them all.  I am whole hearted with my closest relationships, to my ‘nearest and dearest’ I try to give the commitment, passion, attention and intention they need to thrive.

And I am ‘whole hearted’ with and about writing.  Though I’ve struggled against this in the past, I  now know that ‘dabbling’ isn’t enough if I am to write my best.  I have to recognise the commitment needed to ‘turn up’ to write each time, to use moments of opportunity and to protect planned writing times, so easily swallowed otherwise.  I have to allow myself to stay with it, in the moment, door closed, both feet in and under the table, spurning all else and all others.  Oh, and there’s a small matter of faith – trusting that ‘if I build it ….’  Trusting in myself.

It’s an ongoing challenge, but I know I shall never write to my potential unless I do it with a whole heart.

November 8th, 2010

‘Gavin Henson caught my attention’

I’ve become something of a ‘Strictly Come Dancing’ fan with this latest series – although not enough of one it seems to remember to press record for Saturday’s show, watching it on iplayer instead.

This week it was Gavin Henson who caught my attention.  In the earlier rounds I’d found him quite difficult to watch – uncomfortable with his discomfort.  I kept wanting him to make more of an effort, to think about the music, the story, anything to shift his attention from himself and his looks to the dancing.  In the previous show he’d said he’d have to do something about it – clearly wanting to compete properly, being used to winning in his familiar arena of rugby, and embarrassed at his ‘public failure’ in this.  He decided something had to change.

And it did. Yesterday when I finally watched the show I smiled throughout his performance, delighting in its improvement and the enjoyment he seemed to get from dancing.  It was better in lots of ways I think, but most of all what had changed was that he’d been able to forget about himself – to ‘lose himself’ in the music and dance.

This for me is the holy grail of creativity – to forget about ‘being a dancer’, ‘being a writer’, ‘being a creative’ and simply to dance, to write, to sing, to enjoy the moments of creating for the experience and the opportunity it gives us to express our self.   When we are no longer ‘self-conscious’ in our dancing, writing, or creating, when we stop worrying about being good, being seen to be good, or validated or acclaimed, then we can unbridle our creativity – we can let it flow.  Then we ‘dance as if no one is watching’ – especially  ourselves.

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