At the start of the pandemic, I was a full time freelance journalist. I always had work to do for various different magazines. I rarely took time off, unless it was a planned holiday. I’ve been very lucky that in over 25 years of freelancing, I have always had work. When the lockdown was announced, one of my employers, a regional publisher, emailed me immediately to say that I shouldn’t do any more work for him until we knew what was going to happen. It was a big contract – 50 per cent of my business and it was a massive blow, especially as it happened overnight. At first I hoped the work might come back, but over recent weeks, it became clear that I, like many other people in my industry and others, would never be getting that contract back.
I need to work, so I had to look for other things to do. I have always loved art and craft, ever since I was a small child, and it’s been something that I have been able to incorporate in my writing work in a minor way. I started posting lots of my projects on Instagram on a daily basis, just as a way of keeping focused and busy. Someone in the town where I live saw these and asked if I’d ever considered teaching art, and if so, would I like to run some Zoom workshops for the charity that she works for. I had never used Zoom, or taught arts and crafts, but I thought, why not? Now is the time to take some new opportunities if ever there was one. I was booked for four classes and so far I’ve covered simple printing, flower pounding, making books and paper collaging.
Every other Tuesday, I have been setting up my table, my laptop and my coffee, assembling the kit and teaching for an hour. This is my potato printing station.
As I’ve said before on my blog, painting and drawing is one of my coping mechanisms. In the past it has helped to keep me going through bouts of chronic illness. It has certainly kept me on the level in recent weeks. If I began to have worrying thoughts, I would stay up early or late to find some silence and solitude, where I could paint and draw the flowers that I love. I began to post my paintings on Instagram and Twitter, resulting in some unexpected sales and commissions. This is continuing and it’s something I am looking to expand further.
These two pictures are of flowers that I’ve grown in the garden from seeds, and turned into small oil paintings. The little striped Rye Pottery jars came from a charity shop last year. Everything I am doing seems a part of the same circle. These pictures sold very quickly and now I am doing some more for people who have requested them. It seems to be bringing something positive out of a potentially negative situation.
I’ve also started writing a novel. I’m not sure how that will pan out – it’s really not an easy thing to do, and I’ve considered giving up several times, but we shall see. Currently, I’m 35,000 words in. Of course, it has a garden theme. No surprises there!
I’m sure there will be hard times ahead: there are strong predictions of second waves of Covid 19, and of life never returning back to the way it was. The reality is that none of us knows. I’ve found a way to get through for now. It might change again. Until then you’ll either find me at the laptop, downstairs in the kitchen with paint everywhere, or failing that – watering the garden.