The following blog post appeared on She Writes beautifully revamped website this morning. I thought I’d post it here as well.
I got a ticket to this year’s Glastonbury late this year. I missed out on the first round of sales and got mine in April. For a while I was trying to reconcile myself to not going, thinking, “It’s just 5 days, you’ve been before, what’s the problem?” Remembering all the people who say they’re content to watch on TV and avoid the mud. But no, there was a slight desperation, a frantic desire to go this year and I didn’t know why that was until I was there.
This last year has been tough. My husband has been at university pursuing a career change so our income has dropped, he’s been hard at work and with a part time job at weekends, we’ve barely seen each other. My job has been in a state of flux as the organisation changes – the work has been unfulfilling, vague and boring. My office colleagues, while all being very nice people, have very little in common with me. I find myself at work either not able to join in conversations for hours at a time or feeling like I have to apologise for believing what I believe, liking what I like and having the skills I have. I have some friends in the city but I don’t see them often, most of them are at the babies and settling down stage.
Outside all of that, this year I’ve written a novel. It’s my first one and was written essentially to “see if I could”. So now I know I can.
It’s not a good novel and is only a piece of fluffy crime fiction. But I learnt so much about writing, about my strengths and weaknesses while writing it, about what works for me and what I need ot work on that I am very fond of it. I won’t seek to get it published – I know it’s not good enough.
Standing in a muddy field, sleep deprived, dirty, surrounded by strangers (I go to Glastonbury more or less alone – no-one I know really wants to come with me) I suddenly felt a sense of relief. I remembered why I was there, what I gain most. Yes it’s great to forget responsiblilities for a few days, yes it’s great to break your routine, yes it’s definitely great to watch some artists at the top of their game. But mainly I get fed there. I’m not alone. I don’t have to apologise for being different. I don’t have to apologise for wanting more stimulation, more creative opportunities, more time. I don’t have to dampen down my politics and stand by accepting that some things are unjust. I can laugh, I can cry, I can shout, scream and dance. And most importantly, I can do all of those things with other people who feel the same way, whether I know them or not.
Coming back home I’ve been so inspired. I’ve got so many ideas for writing spinning round my head I don’t know how to deal with them, where to start or what to do. I’ve got notes of things to look up and research, snippets and phrases that have come to me and been scribbled down on scraps, piles of stuff lying about and whirling round my brain.
I watched some great artists this year and, while I think there’s a possibility that you can feel overawed by watching someone like BB King or Paul Simon, someone truly great, I just felt inspired. I can do better than the little novel I’ve written so far. I can write better quality sentences, better characters. I don’t mean to say that I think I am anywhere near as good as either of the artists I mentioned above – I know my limits – but I know that so far I’ve sold myself short.
I don’t want to sound self pitying and lonely. Writing is, after all, something to do if you’re good at being alone, which I am. But it’s such a hard weary path to tread. She Writes is a great resource and I read a lot more on here than I write and comment on (sorry – I must do better I know) but once in a while face to face contact, joint experiences are what you need. Modern life, certainly in these hard times, seems to be so set on driving people down, on stamping on creativity and expression, on just “getting through it” that I despair. It took 5 days in a field to restire my equilibrium; now all I have to do is keep that going now I’m back in the real world.
Right now I’m going to make myself some tea, sit in my writing room, listen to the birds outside and pour out some ideas. In that hotchpotch somewhere will be something I can craft.