You might think that – confined to the house with one leg in plaster – I’d have been writing poems to beat the band over the past couple of months. You might, but you’d be wrong. I’d vaguely hoped I might be living the life of Riley, armed with sheafs of paper and my favourite quill – the dull reality is that doing ordinary simple things now takes twice as long and double the energy. Balancing on one leg in the shower. Shuffling downstairs on my bum. Getting a cup of coffee from by the kettle to my comfy chair in the next room, which involves logistical planning and a series of waystations where I pivot on my good foot, pick up the mug from place A, spin and swoop to deposit it at place B, pick up the crutches, and so on and so on till I get to my goal. I then repeat the whole process when I want a second cuppa. On mornings when I’m feeling particularly adventurous (or caffeinated) I may even try for a third. A fourth is out of the question.
The injury hasn’t helped when it’s come to writing, sure. But, in honesty, I’d not written much in the months beforehand, either. Why? I don’t know that I can entirely put my finger on it, but I do know that day after day after day of grim news – the pandemic, climate disasters, a corrupt government which does little but feather its own nest and foster culture wars, and a media which does nothing like enough to hold them to account – really didn’t help. What’s the point of writing poems with all that going on, eh? I couldn’t find one.
Then, for Xmas, someone bought me access to a month of poetry workshops. A chance to start each day in January with an hour of listening, sharing, and writing. It was a stroke of genius – on their part, not mine, of course. One week in, and the poems are flowing. More importantly, I’m enjoying writing them, I’m remembering I have a voice, and what it is, and how I want to use it. I’m writing poems which are personal, and observational, and comic, and reflective, and – yes – angry, and it’s bloody joyous.
So I guess what I’m saying – apart from Hello, I’m back! – is that if you’re a writer who’s struggling to pick up the pen at the moment, hang on in there. Read, take some time off, be good to yourself. Find inspiration at a workshop. Whatever it takes. The words will be there. They’re just waiting.