“Would you like an adventure now, or would like to have your tea first?” From Peter Pan
Apologies for being a few days late with my fortnightly Moat Brae Fellowship blog! I’ve been away! I know not everyone is going to be lucky enough to get time away this year. I hope you can get a break soon.
This year hasn’t gone as any of us planned or hoped. Which is a bit of an understatement really. I was supposed to be in Disney World on a family holiday of a lifetime this summer. But alas! It was not meant to be. However, we had such a lovely week away on the Scottish coast instead. I spent a week in a caravan in Nairn Lochloy. I’ve never been to a caravan park before but the sandy beach on the doorstep was a big plus and it didn’t disappoint.
The beach walks were wonderful after living in the city for so long (I live in a basement flat) so seeing the expanse of the sea and sky for miles and miles was truly soul expanding. I felt my spirit fly for a while with the sun and the breeze equally pleasant. As a professional writer I often have multiple projects on the go. This means that my head space can get cluttered. There is the actual sitting down and writing words out, but there is also a mental process that goes along with each project. A friend asked if other writers send their drafts in early to editors if they have done them before the deadlines. Sometimes I do. This is because mentally I can let go of that project for a while and focus on something else. Having time away to do nothing, or see friends or hang out with your family is so important for writers as we can get bogged down by deadlines or making something perfect. Even during lockdown I had weeks where I needed to not write anything (or couldn't write anything) and watch films or paint or draw or play. It's like a reset button.
I'm hoping I can visit Moat Brae soon as the door open this week to the garden and cafe (13th August). You can watch videos from Matt, the gardener at Moat Brae talk about the work that has begun and that will be ongoing in the coming months.
I really needed a mental break from writing work. I’ve been fortunate to have a lot of projects and writing commissions on the go – but having to juggle those with domestic life has been difficult. I did it though. I’m writing this at 8 in the morning before the kids get up. I am happy to say though that even though I was not going to write at all during my holiday I had a little free time one evening to write and started a story for my fellowship. I had wanted to write about loss, gardens and how we can remember our loved ones. Again, having some space to write allowed the story to come through.
Dr Simon Davidson from Moat Brae (and the National Centre for Children’s Literature and Storytelling) had sent me some photos of the work of an artist Aliisa Hyslop. Aliisa has created pieces of art by carving faces into tree bark and branches. Aliisa will be exhibiting at Moat Brae in September and I encourage you to go see her work. The faces in the trees are at once eery and intriguing. They were the inspiration I needed to begin a story about a boy who is mourning his grandmother. I had wanted to write a story about the Tulip Tree at Moat Brae and this seemed like the perfect opportunity to use Aliisa’s faces as a starting point. I’ve managed a first draft of a story that I am pleased with which is called A Tree for Nanny Barton. (I will attach once it's been proofread!)
It has also been announced that I am a BEATS Fellow (British East Asians in Theatre and Screen). This means I will receive 9 months of masterclasses and 1-2-1 mentoring with the amazing talent that is Emma Reeves. Emma is a seasoned screenwriter and theatre writer. I hope over the coming months I can learn lots from Emma about writing for television and adapting novels into screenplays. Thanks BEATS for putting together such a wonderful package of support.
Hi Ho! Back to work I go. (Opps, wrong Disney film!)
Enjoy the rest of the summer and stay well.