So that’s me back in the Hobbit hole then, which feels so different to the first time I came up here to shield last March – like going back to square one somehow.
This time last year just before Covid hit I was about to start what I thought would be a year dedicated to travel. This started with going to Wells-next-the Sea for my birthday then North Sweden to see the Northern lights then to Manc to have coffee and cake with writing good buddy Gaynor Jones, then oop to Bolton to see my sis, dad and nephews and nieces and go to a concert in Manc, then off darne sarf for a Writer’s Retreat with other writer buddies Ali McGrane, Sherry Morris and Amanda Saint, then off to wales for a week with Booboo pug to write in a wee cottage in Llan-non. Me and grumpy husband were then going to go to Italy to visit bessie-mate Kat who moved to just outside Milan in Dec 2019, then Poland to visit my son who lives near Gdansk with his lovely fam, then we were off to Havana and Las Vegas for the trip of a lifetime which of course didn’t happen.
As I look back to this time last year – so much has changed – people I loved have passed away, my pet sidekick too, close family have (and continue to be) be seriously ill. My mum-in-law had a stroke, was in hossie for weeks and weeks then in rehab miles away where on Sunday it was confirmed she has contracted Covid. We can’t visit and as her speech has been effected by the stroke – phoning is not easy. My dad-in-law, who has just about every medical condition you don’t want in a Covid situation – level 6 kidney disease, diabetes, heart failure – had a fall in November and broke his hip. He came back home last night after we’d spent the Christmas break working like furies to get the house adapted, bed downstairs, rising chair borrowed from friends, everything cleaned and cleared – then as we were waiting for him to arrive home last night the news that we are all going back into lockdown. Feels a bit overwhelming if I’m honest. Never have I needed my writing crutch more.
I look back on 2020 as a very difficult time in most lights but writing wise, with having had more time to give to it, I actually had my most successful writing year – I won the Segora short story comp, Flash 500, Write from the Heart micro comp, came second in The Fountain essay comp, third in Bath Flash, was a finalist in the Aesthetica Creative Writing Awards, Comma Press’s Dinesh Allirajah Award and Fish Flash Fiction Award, and was published in lovely places like Fictive Dream, Ellipsis, Molotov Cocktail and Reflex Fiction’s A Girl’s Guide to Fly Fishing. And that is what I have to build on as we enter the dark days of January 2021. Its weird I was so looking forward to waving goodbye to 2020 just a week ago. It didn’t occur that 2021 might turn out to be even more challenging. But I have to remember there are bright lights on the horizon – doing Matt Kendrick’s flash course next week (my Xmas pressie from grumpy husband) and Retreat West’s flash course in Feb with the uber talented Amanda Saint (birthday pressie from the fam) and then the launch of my memoir-in-flash The Naming of Bones on 22nd April. So I really need to give myself a talking to as I move back into shielding. I’m so lucky to have a safe place to retreat to, a family around me, and a writing passion to distract me from thinking those thoughts that think themselves. My lovely kids made a wee book for me as a Christmas pressie. (see above).They scoured the internet for my flashes then set them out in this lovely book. I was soooo moved and I love the picture on the front too. Last summer there was a butterfly that visited often. I put garden flowers on the table outside the hobbit house and it came back again and again and sometimes landed on my head or arm and one day when it did Paulina took this photo. It’s another blessing I need to remember to count.
Anyhoo in the spirit of dredging up some positive thinking – here’s my micro from Writing from the Heart. It feels hard taking my own advice at the moment but as there’s nowt we can do but roll with the punches, I thought I’d post it here just in case it helps anyone anywhere.
It’s my birthday on the 12th which is a crap time to have a birthday at the best of times – right after Christmas with decks all packed away, freezing cold, when everyone’s skint and sick and tired of eating and drinking, which is why I celebrate half birthdays in summer when we can eat out or walk by the river and sing in the garden in drunken bad harmonies. I really hope we will get to do that this year. Happy 2021 blog readers – here’s to the coming summer – when this lockdown will be over, the kids will be back at school and uni, online mates will be meeting up face-to-face, and we’ll be going to concerts and museums and libraries and sitting in cafes watching the world go by, and by midsummer 2021 mass vaccinations will be done and dusted, elderly relies will be well and home, my best friends and family will be sitting round the fire dish in my garden having just stuffed their faces and drunk too much red wine singing Don’t Look Back in Anger at the top of their football crowd voices like there’s no tomorrow, like there was no yesterday.