Saturday, 5 May 2018

restoring my sanity with some free writing and a bit of window cleaning

dusk, camber sands © Caroline Fraser

This week I signed up to a writing workshop in the hope to restore my ability to put pen to paper ( or fingers to keyboard).

Writing a blog has been difficult; chiefly because I am struggling with who I am meant to be right now.

As a doctor I find myself disatisfied with the pace of work; unable to do my best for people who deserve more than 10 minutes of my time. I would rather not do a job if I can't do it properly, so am doing less and less work.

And then feeling guilty.

For if I have skills as a doctor then surely I should use them. There is such a shortage at present.

In my recent spell in New Zealand as a locum the pressure of time as a GP less, and I felt able to practice in the way that I used to; time to sort problems properly and go home at night knowing that I had done my best.

Now I am disillusioned and feeling uncertain what to do.

Should I be a doctor or an artist? Can one exist without the other?

I don't earn any money as an artist. But the need to create is very strong.

Being an artist can be a purely selfish occupation.

I couldn't resolve these issues in my mind. I felt tense.

So frustrated that I had resorted to window cleaning as a means to expend some energy. I have a new gadget for cleaning windows.

Here is the water from the washing of my indoor panes.

As you can see; the windows really needed cleaning.

But I didn't really feel much better after that.

I tried zumba and pilates; still my head was pounding.

I hacked bushes in the garden. Still no improvement.

So for reasons of sanity preservation I signed up to a creative writing workshop with Hilary Wilce at Smallhythe studio.

I hoped it might free me up a bit.

I was feeling irritable for reasons that were difficult to understand.

Eight of us sat around a table on a cold and wet, early May day.

Pens poised. Notebooks at the ready. A clean, fresh page.

I felt tense. Angry, amongst other things about all the litter I see on the beach and in the streets.

beach litter

What was the subject we were presented with?

We were asked to do some free writing about SPRING. Nothing could have been further from my ideal subject matter given my mood.

We were given a few words and then asked to write whatever came into our heads without stopping for several minutes.

The rant began...... I put pen to notebook. No bluebells and green buds from me....

I wrote;

'I didn't want to write some happy little ditty about lambs frolicking in the fields

The sheep are wet and muddy. 

Wool matted and grey.

One dead. Stiff legs outstretched in the turnip field. ......"

As I wrote I started exploring my thoughts about work, vocation and the fear of being perceived as selfish for giving up on a job that I have loved for so many years.

I began to understand where all my anger was coming from.

We did some more exercises about clearing out the rubbish in our lives and planning a to-do list.

Top of my list was to do some free writing once a week.

I talked, we shared our thoughts and feelings and wrote a poem together.

I felt calmer.

I drove home. The rain stopped.

And the sun came out.

At dusk I took my phone to the beach and captured the last light of the day.

dusk, camber sands

dusk in the other direction, camber sands

I am working through my to-do list;

 And for now I am undecided about what next, but I now realise that the problem is probably one that everyone nearing retirement from a profession probably feels.

And that it is normal not to be certain about my future.

And rather than feeling angry, I took a dustbin bag with me for my next walk on the beach, and picked up all the plastic that I could find.

litter, camber sands