Tuesday 15 December 2020

The Writing Gift - by Rowena House


For December, I want to be festive and positive, despite Brexit and Covid19 and Climate Change. Here, I wanted to say how precious the good things are in bad times. Family. Home. Nature. Writing.

Our new puppy brightens the future and softens the shadows of grief.

Sadly, I can’t force festive positivity today. It’s Monday morning, and the piece I drafted on Sunday is trite, with a naff extended metaphor about writing as a gift. What can I salvage from it?

Writing has been a gift this year. Not the doing of it; that’s been hard for a lot of us. But planning the work-in-progress, however slowly and sporadically, provided the time and head space to investigate and imagine, to analyse and gain perspective.

This Yuletide I’m planning to light a candle to whatever ancestors bequeathed us writers with the genetic code for curiosity of mind, plus the ability and drive to turn thoughts into words.

This quote, attributed to Jack Kerouac, sums up this end-of-year feeling nicely: “One day I will find the right words, and they will be simple.” 


I’m also deeply grateful for the sense of connection with other writers throughout the year. Thank you especially to writer friends for long, supportive phone calls, and to Arvon for Zoom masterclasses. Writers on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter have kept open windows into our world, too. Thank you.

As I blathered on about yesterday (having googled writing as a gift), creativity is also about giving. If the ideas and insights we get from research, planning and plotting are what we receive, it is the stories we create out of them that we give back.

See? I said it was trite. Nevertheless, in difficult times, I find that separation reassuring.

The intrinsic value of writing (the received bits) can stand alone for now; there’s no need to worry about findings readers or pitching to editors; that way madness lies.

It’s OK, too, if the forge of inspiration turns out to be stone cold (to mix metaphors, soz.)  Just stack the ore of the story into a corner; there’ll be time to sift through it one day.

A form of giving that’s been hard to accomplish this year is teaching creative writing. I hugely admire all of you who’ve kept going remotely. Young people need to express their thoughts and feelings more than ever. Congratulations if you gave them that gift.

Ordinarily, I try to develop these blogs into something worth reading, but the puppy needs walking, logs brought in (our central heating boiler died), There are business calls to make, an invoice to be emailed, then we've got to go to my elderly dad's.

The Christmas tree is still in its pot in a quiet corner of the garden where it lives between its short weeks of glory, and for a few more days the decorations will have remain in their boxes.  

Meanwhile, I hope you are better prepared. More festive and positive. Feeling resilient in the face of whatever 2021 will fling at us.

I wish you as happy a midwinter festival as your circumstances allow, and send love to those grieving, sick, fearful, hungry or homeless here and abroad.

May the New Year be a creative, caring time for you and yours.

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