Today, rootling around storage, I found a journal I was writing when i was 21.
Aside from the cringe factor of much of the content, what is interesting is the sheer output of words. The pull of putting pen to paper was clearly strong even then (unsurprising given I chose an essay-oriented arts degree).
Most noticeable, however, is that clearly my soul was yearning to do do art, and I was actively ignoring the need.
Instead, each time I sat down to draw, the drama of those years would kick in (boys, relationships, booze). I plunged willingly and regularly down one of those favourite rabbit holes, terrified of the blank page, of quiet time alone with nothing but my own thoughts and aspirations.
The turbulence of those pages written by my 21 year old self was a stark contrast read 17 years later, within the context of a calm morning with my five year old. It was just the two of us, rather than both boys together (less calm). We walked along the beach, discovered some paraphernalia that appealed to us and, on our return, sat and sketched what we had found. It was my idea of mama heaven, and I realised in sitting there for half an hour, that it is woefully rare for me to sit without any form of interruption: no getting up to do a chore, no procrastinating, no phone, just enjoying sitting there with Samuel, drawing and writing.
Sitting observing the small collection of items, it struck me that even half an hour’s concentration feels like an achievement for me these days, whereas, in those heady University years, I’d easily sit and study for hours.
Life itself is much steadier now and, for the most part, I try to keep the drama on the page (although not always successful, it is the aspiration). With young children we have set routine which, although sometimes I pull against it, is much better for me. And substantially better for my work. Without that routine, I’m untethered.
I keep writing as, along with routine, it also brings comfort: helping me form my thoughts on the page, to solidify what otherwise remains fluid, ungraspable. By writing – and publishing – these blogposts and musings, I’m starting to better understand the ambitions that I have for this pile of words that I gather.
So, I keep writing.
I am still writing.
And only time will tell what those words will amount to.