Saturday, 1 May 2021

May Day with Gluesticks and Coloured Pencils by Penny Dolan

 The first of May! And the loveliest of the bank holidays in that it is still there, purely for enjoyment.

blossom - Wiktionary

There are - I think and hope  - no must-see cookery programmes devoted to an expected menu, no special May Day tv programmes, no particular ritual that involves family visits versus affronts. The first of May still feels, to me, like a festival that can be celebrated however you like although obviously, this year, still within certain limits.

May Day - Wikipedia 

Outside, the uncertainty of spring is over. The weather is, in general, warmer. The trees are filling with leaves and blossoms, the birds are boastfully loud, the bluebells are bright and even the weeds are small and pretty. There is a sense of unstoppable enthusiasm in the gardens of Britain, no matter what, and thank heavens for that right now. 

File:Bluebells (4560794845).jpg - Wikimedia Commons

I welcome that because there are times when, for some writers, it is hard to feel enthusiastic. We know too much, have been there before, feel as if our creativity is at a low ebb and that, besides, we are too imperfect. Which is one of the reasons that I signed up for a five week course on Creative Journalling, led by Jen Alexander, a  friend and a tutor whose work I know.

In the past, at various places, I have seen some beautiful creative and working journals, wwhere the pages are works of art and the handwriting makes perfect patterns across the page. Yet whenever I thought about this at home, the inner critics were gathered and muttering before I'd even begun - and there are more of them than there are of me.

However, glimpsing the artist Greyson Perry's working journals on screen during the lockdown's had given me a quiet hope. While interestingly busy and enthusiastic, those pages were not pure and pretty. 

Inside Grayson Perry's sketchbook | Grayson perry, Sketch ...

Besides, on a course, I could ignore those voices, couldn't I?

So, on a Wednesday evening, there I was, sitting around a zoom table, ready to begin the adventure with a few other people. Nearby, I had my pots of pens and prittsticks and a few coloured magazines . . .  and we began. 

What have we done in the meetings? We've written, used poems, shared our words, drawn and . . . well, it wouldn't be right to share all the exact details about the activities. We were also invited to write a couple of diary entries.

However, suddenly, too much of my week had gone by: a sad and harrassing one in my mind, with the online funeral of an old friend, a poorly cat, a couple of dreary days and so on. I felt too worn away to write a catch-up-diary entry.

Instead, opening the journal - and encouraged by Jenny's open approach - I decided to draw small pictures to remind me of the things that had happened - and something changed. Drawing a small candle, I remembered how lovely that friend had been and then, as I worked with my coloured pencils, I recalled the happy moments hidden by the worries of the week. I included the row of blossoming cherry trees from my walk, my squinty eyed cat glad to be back from the vets, the washing blowing on the line for the first time this year, colouring in and and around. 

 clothesline - Wiktionary

The more I drew the more good moments came back to me and when, after an hour or so, I finished, I felt happy and relaxed - and slept well that night too. Even though I hadn't written any words, I felt satisfied. 

Though I must remember to keep writing each day too. . .

That happy feeling had happened during my earlier week's homework too, when wielding a gluestick, I created a paper collage in green, one of my favourite colours. It had been a long time since I felt so free and in my own world.  (Even better, in the future, I could use the collage technique to cover any of oppressively ugly pages.)

In fact, I felt myself filling with enthusiasm again and - having my journal nearby - I now know where I can go to find that feeling again. So far, the course has been exactly what I needed.

Woodside Morris Men - Wikipedia

Wishing you a very happy May Day, with or without your coloured pencils and paints.

Penny Dolan


 ps The Creative Journalling course is one of several run by Jenny Alexander, whose website is here:

Writers Review: Guest review by Jenny Alexander: WRITERS ...


Sue Purkiss said...

It sounds as though Jenny's course is just what you needed, Penny!

Lynne Benton said...

Lovely post, Penny - very inspiring!

Becca McCallum said...

I don't keep a regular journal, but I do sometimes write in a small junk journal that I created during the first lockdown. It's nice to be able to combine words and images, along with small artefacts from daily life like scraps or stamps or pretty labels.