Finally getting back in the groove again after several super-busy months of doing everything but creative writing. Aside from having a number of part-time jobs – like maybe four! – I’m edging towards the final stage of my PhD in Creative Research Practice, so I haven’t had much time to devote to new work. But over the last few weeks I’ve been thinking a lot about a new idea that will combine my two passions in life – singing and writing – with a fascinating slice of Spanish history. Olѐ! I’ve also made progress on ‘The Bakery Stories’ novella, and, after working on my PhD for what seems like the last eight hundred years, I finally understand the concept of a ‘research question’ and how to master the academic voice. I tell you, life is good!

I didn’t get a Hedgebrook residency and still haven’t heard back from the publisher, but I feel buoyant and happy. One thing which helped was re-reading The Artist’s Way, especially the section on ‘Recovering a Sense of Strength’. In this chapter, Julia Cameron offers a range of strategies for dealing with artistic ‘loss’ – for example, instead of thinking: ‘Why me?’ after a rejection, we can think: ‘What next?’ Simply changing a thought can help us keep moving forward. Julia Cameron also writes about the importance of ‘filling the form’ – which means taking one small action each day towards achieving a creative dream instead of becoming stuck because life isn’t presenting the perfect conditions. The concrete goal that signifies the accomplishment of this dream is an artist’s ‘true north’.

As I read through Julia Cameron’s advice on ‘Recovering a Sense of Strength’, I realised I’d become ‘stuck’ in recent months because I’d been thinking: ‘I can’t possibly write anything new until I finish the PhD / secure an agent / get published / go to America / win a $40,000 grant / hang the washing / cook dinner / (insert any excuse here).’ But since I started taking one small step every day – like reading through my father’s recollections of the war in Holland, or writing an updated synopsis for a grant application, or having a go at writing a parable – I’ve re-discovered the joys and the excitement of the creative process, and I’m back to thinking: ‘Holy heck! How lucky am I?’

Another thing which helped recently was a friend’s advice: ‘Energy follows intent,’ he told me. ‘Work out what it is you want, then go and get it.’ So I’ve set the compass to my own version of ‘true north’, and, step by step, I’ll get there!

Until next time …