I always find summer to be quite a strange time. My weekly classes have finished and I'm not teaching regularly again until the end of September- I have a couple of one day workshops but they are few and far between. I'm back to doing the day job but, at The Mill, we don't programme bands or shows throughout August as the theatre is under maintenance. Because of this the normal routine (as much as there is ever a normal routine) goes out of the window and we all sort of drift. And bicker. There is tidying and filing and, this summer, a manic preoccupation with income generation and expenditure reduction (the government doing the best it can to see off the creative arts in this country). In the meantime I have been getting my teeth into some new projects- some ambitious new paintings, repainting the flat and attempting to write that novel.
Yep, you did read that last part right. The novel.
When I was younger all I did was write and paint. It's pretty much all I do now. My 9 year old self used to hide in her bedroom and laboriously copy out page after page of the Wind in the Willows in grey exercise books. When I was 13 my next door neighbour gave me her old word processor. It took up the entire bedroom and looked a little bit like the computer Hal from 2001: A Space Odyssey. When you sent something to print it sounded like machine gun fire and took about 20 minutes to type out one page. Somewhere in my parent's house there will be a file with a dozen or so stories about a misunderstood and awkward teenager. The heroines will all have alarmingly precocious names like Araminta or Thea.
Even as an adult I have journalled regularly from the first few dizzy weeks at art college to documenting the glorious, cinematic beginnings of a relationship and it's mundane and all-too-ordinary disintegration. There are stacks of cheap notebooks filled with the kind of obsessive longings normally reserved for teenagers, not apparently sane 32 year old adult education coordinators. But I want to write something a little more structured. Something with plots and characters and themes and a point to make somewhere. And, for all my flippancy about this, it disguises the fact that this is quite important to me and has been a secret wish for a long time. For the first time I have really started to appreciate the situation I find myself in. I am single, I have just enough wit and intelligence behind me to make a reasonable, if not exactly incendiary, stab at this. I have time on my hands and a room (a couple of rooms actually) of my own. I have no idea what's in store for me but this may be the only time in my life where I have access to this period of grace and stillness.
So, I have stock piled the Moleskines, the dark chocolate and a couple of helpful books (Stephen King's On Writing is fab, as is Writing Down the Bones by Natalie Goldberg) and I have set my self some small and manageable goals. The rest is up to me.