Paper Nations is an arts organisation which commissions writers throughout the South West of England to create new work. Earlier this year, they ran a scheme called ‘Time to Write’ and invited writers who face particular barriers (time, money, location, opportunity) to apply for up to £1,000 to enable them to develop a writing project. The decision-making process at Paper Nations overlapped with the start of the Covid-19 lockdown and a decision was made to award a small commission to every writer who applied to the scheme, as well as the opportunity to take part in a year of writer development and mentorship, and to join an online writing community, if they choose.
I applied for a commission in order to fund some time to write and I am grateful to Paper Nations for this opportunity. The commission asks for a creative response to isolation during this extraordinary period of time we’re living through. I’m going to use my blog to document my process and to share some of the pieces of work I develop.
Although I’m not alone at the moment, because I live with my husband and our two children have been sent home from their respective universities, I’m isolated with my thoughts. This has lead me to be more conscious about my own creative practice. One thing I’ve noticed during this time of lockdown is the creative energy and satisfaction that sharing work provides. For the past ten years I’ve been writing and publishing poetry – writing much more than publishing, as only a fraction of what I write is ever accepted anywhere. I have chosen not to publish my creative work extensively on this blog, or in online social media channels, and have only submitted to online journals where someone makes an editorial decision about what is accepted. Work already published online is ineligible for most print journals and so I have held back in freely publishing, in order to give my work a chance of print publication.
However, during lockdown there seems little point in holding back. In particular, the collages I’ve made recently using found natural materials and newspaper texts have required immediate publication. I shared them as soon as I made them, first for MPT magazine in response to their online workshop, and then for my own writing practice. I’ve shared them on this blog in previous posts, and I’ve shared them all over social media, on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook. This is very unusual for me!
Working with fractured texts and natural materials suits my current frame of mind and situation. I have very little time alone now so sustained work on longer pieces of writing is more difficult to achieve. I intend to make more collages for this commission and I will share them here. Who knows, some other forms of writing might also decide to make an appearance.
Do, please, let me know about your own creative projects and process during this strange time.