‘You need a creative outlet.’ How simple and straightforward a sentence. Five little words, delivered in a normal voice. Not accompanied by sweeping orchestral music, not delivered on a beach in a raging storm, waves crashing dramatically against the rocks. Not even said at midnight, under a full moon. It was around 12pm. In Bridgend. In a leisure centre. But, and here’s the point, those five words have stuck with me for years. They changed my life in a small way. They are the reason you are reading this post.
Back all those years ago, I was floundering. My head was in a spin, by this time a mum, but still pretty directionless. I was a mother, a wife, a daughter, a sister. But who the fuck was I? The irony is that I had a similar conversation with a work friend, going back probably eighteen years. She sat crying in my office, as I gently pointed out that she was giving her all being things for others, and leaving nothing for herself. Who are you? I asked her. She cried even harder. Sorry.
I wasn’t crying in the leisure centre, that would be an appalling song title, wouldn’t it? Anyway, I wasn’t crying, but I was struck by the accuracy of those words. I’d like to tell you I raced home and acted upon them, that I bought a shed and turned it into a creative sanctuary, that I did ANYTHING WHATSOEVER. But I didn’t. Not then. But I did in 2017.
I finally plucked up the courage to do my master’s degree in Creative Writing with the OU (@theopenuniversity) and, thanks to their incredible efforts to find financial support assistance, went and got myself a first! Astonishing. I had amazing people along the way, reading my work, critiquing sentences over and over, until they were sparkly gems, and without them I wouldn’t have stuck it out. But, without the lady who spoketh the very first sentence of this post, I probably wouldn’t have got further than wanting to do my masters.
Her name is Francine Davies (@frantotalimprove), her work can be found here 👉 @francinedaviesart and here 👉 @theworldofogs and here 👉 www.francinedavies.art She is brilliant. And lovely. And, though I haven’t seen her properly for years, I think of her as a friend. What a gem 💎
Life is full of things that happen and affect you, that you have absolutely no control of. If you're living with health problems, you know that sometimes you can't even control your own body. It can feel so frightening to be out of control, but if you have a pen, or a brush, or a sewing needle, or ball of clay, or whatever, then you have something you are in complete control of. Magic.
What’s your creative outlet? You know you need one.