No, not Downton as in the Abbey but something many of us neglect in our lives.
In Mslexia magazine, Adrian Magson observed that an overworked brain is not creative. This is important if we are trying to write. How many of us find that we become absorbed in what we are writing only to find that when we read it through the last paragraph demonstrates that we have become blunted.
The same day that I read Adrian’s article an email popped into my inbox from a friend who mentioned having a free day and asking if I had free days. Hmmm yes, I said. I have free days, free evenings, PJ mornings, sofa days and plenty of down time. What I do in between is productive and creative.
I also have exercise mornings and outings which have nothing to do with writing. Well, I have to keep the non-writing partner in my life happy.
In fact, I am so pleased with how I balance my life these days that I am reminded of my 35 years of teaching when I felt guilty not getting up on a Saturday morning. I was exhausted. I had few hobbies other than writing and walking my dog and my writing muse was notably absent through those years. Often I felt I had not recovered enough to return to work on a Monday but my inner voice told me that ‘life’s like that’ and that is what happens when you are working.
But I did spend time on my garden and during the summer months I sat at a picnic bench on my lawn working my way through Open University material catching up on what I had not done during term time. As I was on contracts I had little teaching between early June and mid September so I squashed reading and drafting of assignments into four months. When I finished, I told myself, I would write.
What a mistake! I should have seen the value of writing for writing’s sake, and not ‘for an assignment’, as a necessary part of my health plan. Now, as a full time (just about) writer I wonder why I stayed so long in the profession instead of turning my talents to writing. What a waste of time ………………….. or was it?
I don’t think so! Instead of seeing it as wasted time in earlier years of not writing, I prefer to think that I was in a period of non-writing for a reason. Call it experience or down time, these years were a necessary part of the formation of my identity and interests. I learnt so much from colleagues, in service training, studying with the OU and from the students and I can still recall many humorous times stored up for when I make a start on ‘that one’.
For now I need to polish my next book of poetry as the illustrator has made a start on the drawings. Should I wear Floral and other poems on Life, Love and Leaving will be my second humorous poetry book. Grandma’s Poetry Book is doing well and takes time with its promotion. My 1950s memoir is in the editing and fleshing out stage and there is a large chunk to put in the middle of Deaf not Daft (growing up with a deaf sibling).
And when I have done all that I shall return to my book on my teaching career. Whether I continue the fiction idea or whether I make it a self-help book I am still to find out.
For now I am off for a walk and some down time before my yoga lesson tonight.
The two hours I do on my return should, if my thesis is correct, be startlingly creative and brilliant! Well, it might.