'The world is filled with to many unfinished manuscripts as it is, and I did't want to add another one to that bottomless pile. So no matter how much I thought my work stank, I had to persist.' - Liz Gilbert, Big Magic.
I have 101 blog posts sitting in my 'drafts' folder in Blogger. That is the exact number 101. One hundred and one pieces of unfinished writing. Over the last couple of years my writing here has fizzled out and boiled down to just my 52 Portraits project. Even those posts have dried up (although many of the 101 drafts are weekly letters to my children that I have either not finished, or just not pressed 'published' on. Writing here had to take a back seat while I completed a year of studying Montessori Education, I needed to write 8000 words worth of essays, and finding those words then managing to connect them up into something coherent and academic took a lot of effort. The effort spent on that, while growing and raising a tiny human (Jude) and running a baking business with no child care for my daughter meant that I had no capacity to write here. Or desire, really. I had kept this blog for a decade and my momentum had gone.
But now I find myself in a place of wanting to get those unfinished words to a finished state, if nothing more, than to get them out of my head. There is one post in particular which I started writing in the lead up to moving house at the end of last year, and those unfinished words keep coming back to me, like they are needing to be written and dealt with.
The quote I included at the beginning of this post is from Big Magic, which I am currently reading. It is a truly fascinating book on 'creative living beyond fear', and of the many things I have taken away from the book, this is one of them: creativity matters. Prior to reading the book, I had been feeling very lacklustre about creativity, I would look at the pile of beautiful fabrics stacked up on my sewing box and think, 'I could sew something, but what's the point? I won't be able to finish anything in one sitting, and I don't want more unfinished projects hanging around...nobody needs another quilt, so why bother making one?' And yet one of the lessons I learnt very early on as an Early Years teacher is that the process is often more important than the end product. Time and time again, I have known this to be true for children, so why not apply it to myself? I recently had a conversation with my Mum (a brilliantly creative person, but calls herself 'not very creative', who said she found it hard to sew or paint things if they didn't have a useful purpose, to which I told her that doing it simple for the enjoyment was a valuable process. I absolutely believe this to be true. That's one of the messages of Big Magic, and it's exactly what I needed to be reminded of myself. What we create doesn't have to change the world but it does change us as artists when we engage with it.
This book has also reminded me that inspiration only stays with us for so long before moving on if we don't welcome it and use it. I am conscious with these unwritten blog posts that some of them won't ever be published, because when I return to them, the inspiration will have gone, and I will not be able to pick back up where I left off. But there are others that still need to be written, and it will help me to do so. If nothing more than to help me process what I am thinking about. One of the reasons I had grown dishearted with writing this blog was that I had written for so many years and so few people read my words. Deep down, I knew this did not matter - I am almost certain I would not have carried on writing for an entire decade if I really cared about how small my readership was. But for a time, it bothered me. If I did not care for the words I wrote, why would others want to read them? I was not motivated to write for myself, and I had to stop. During this season of mothering two young children, I do not have the time or energy in the evenings that I once had. But, I have realised over the past few months that I need to write. Just for myself. And if others enjoy reading them, then that is wonderful, if not, I have lost nothing, and it matters not. Here's to getting back to writing and making space for being creative, because it matters and I need to do it.