Wednesday, 23 January 2013
The Slow Return
The curse of all story-makers is that every so often when you know there is a story in an image - you cannot find it in your own head. Writer's block is the same thing. Nothing is to be found in the mind.
Some panic, the first time it happens I'm sure the first reaction is panic. Imagination cannot be forced, it's like a cat, it comes and goes as it pleases. We are not generally brought up with that mind-set. The general notion is that you create and create. Snow, rain, hail, fire, flood and other events don't stop the Imagination Express. This is not entirely true as I've found more than once. The big things can inspire all kinds of thoughts that feed the imagination, but the petty, mundane storms and stresses can get in the way of the imagination.
I have had a whole host of these petty nonsenses and they aren't over yet. Siblings, my own situation have led as always to my asking, why am I here, where am I going, what is the point of living?
So I have retreated into reading and looking at pictures. I have read a collection of short stories and The Marlowe Papers by Ros Barber, a novel in verse. I have been to four exhibitions that were fabulous and enjoyable. Two at the Victoria & Albert museum on costume, one at Tate Britain on the Pre-Raphaelites and recently the Death: A Self Portrait exhibition at the Wellcome Collection. This last was fascinating, moving and even funny.
Slowly I can feel my story-making mojo returning. Like the plants it is hibernating at present, but I hope either very soon or in the Spring to have it back again. The snowy weather we've had in Britain recently has been beautiful and deadly. I have a new book on Albrecht Dürer, which is a beautiful book on an extraordinary artist. I have a new book on Faerie lore by the great folklorist Katharine Briggs. So I am feeding my imagination, letting it simmer and stew until my imagination, sniffing the air returns, well-fed to dream in my head.
Still I am turning over the furniture in my head looking for a story I may have overlooked, wondering if I will continue to be a writer of small tales, fearing that my imagination will leave me or that I will cease to want to write. My world is in the process of being broken down and reborn and all births are painful and stressful.
But in the wilderness of our lives - especially the lives of those of us who are single, we can only struggle and hope. Like wandering through the snow, fearful of falling, yet eager to go on and get into the warmth.
Wherever you are, I hope that you are safe and well. That you are warm and comfortable. Well-fed and loved. And I assure you that I have not gone just yet. I will return with a tale between my ears and hope that it pleases you. It is coming slowly, like a bear waking from its winter sleep to full awareness. I beg you patiently await me, I am on the way back through the snow.