Although it may not look like it on this blog, a lot has happened over the past few weeks. It’s high time I put out an update, as I was very conscious of the gap between posts getting longer and longer. I’ve been suffering from a crippling case of writer’s block pretty much since my last post from the Grant Arms Wildlife Book Festival in April and it’s been driving me crazy, as The Block has a habit of doing.
Recently my optician told me I have both blepharitis (dry eyes) and Posterior Vitreous Detachment (PVD), which is the reason behind my numerous floaters and flashing episodes. Luckily, neither condition is sinister in my case, but I’ve now become very conscious of straining my eyes from too much screen time. However, as a writer who prefers to type (it’s the only way my hands can keep up with my brain), it’s meant that I’m now reluctant to gaze at my mac screen for hours on end. So, I’ve been considering going full-on retro and getting a typewriter, which honestly is something I’ve dreamed of owning for years. As well as being loads of fun, it would be a screen-free alternative to typing that would give my eyes a rest.
Elsewhere during my long absence, in an attempt to meet new people and also learn new skills, I’ve joined my local writers group and started singing lessons. Verulam Writers has already pushed me out of my comfort zone. I’ve read out several of my pieces during manuscript evenings and got new perspectives on description in a recent workshop. It’s so refreshing to hear how others write because although it’s not always a genre I write in myself, it’s still so useful to hear how different writers approach tackling synopses or developing characters. Although I’m still trying to fight my way out of writer’s block, being around fellow writers has been very reassuring and it’s the right environment for me to get back into it again.
As for singing, I’m having an amazing time. I got back in contact with my piano teacher after a three-year break – it’s hard to believe that the last time I saw her was before the whole whirlwind of university – and asked her about taking up singing lessons, which was one of the best decisions I’ve made. She is an absolute tonic and helps me forget my uneasiness about The Block (and honestly my whole future) for a short time. I love singing; I find it incredibly relaxing and often quite uplifting. To now be able to improve my technique and feel my voice getting stronger is so incredible. After only three lessons I’m already hearing a difference in high notes, which is something I’ve always struggled with.
In addition to singing lessons, I’ve got something else exciting to look forward to: next month I’m going to Madrid! I was determined to make the most of a block of holiday off work and I’ve wanted to go back to Spain and practise the language for ages, so I seized the day and booked myself five nights in Plaza Mayor – bang in the centre of the city. I’ve been shredding through Lonely Planet guides and have assembled a list of landmarks, events and, perhaps most importantly, restaurants that I need to visit. Now I have to schedule a plan of action to see as much as possible without burning myself out. Either way, I’ve indulged in a beautiful new Panasonic compact camera to tuck into my bum bag and capture some of Madrid’s charm.
So, although writing has been agonisingly slow this month, I’m hoping that my new extra-curricular timetable will really help me get inspired. Writer’s block is an inevitable evil that you can try and push through, but I think sometimes it’s best to step back and approach new things that take your mind off it, which can actually help more in the long run. All I can say is bring on Madrid!