This time last year I didn’t know what a blog was – well, I had a vague idea but had never looked at one in the flesh, so to speak, and would never have imagined that through writing one I would eventually fly to Seattle to spend time with six women I had met online. This blog has given me permission to be creative – publishing poems, prose and photographs – and recently it’s the photography that has been ringing my bell the most.
In 1992 I started a photography HND which I extended to three years of study. Three years of buying films and paper, of queuing to book a day on one of the colour enlargers (which meant getting to college at 7am in an attempt to be first in the queue); three years of angsting over lighting and film speeds and whether I was as good as Wolfgang Tillmans (who’d left the course the year before). Once a year since then, without fail, I hatch a plan to ‘get back into photography’. In the past these schemes have not developed further than a page in my diary – this time it feels so very different. It feels like I was waiting for technology to catch up with my eye, and now… ta da… the digital age is here.
Next year I plan to start taking my photography seriously. I dream of publishing a book of poetry and photographs. I dream of creating a website where I can sell prints of my photographs, and begin to fish for work as a portrait photographer. Cos that’s what I was good at, all those years ago, and while the writing ticks along at it’s own merry pace I fancy that my new life in London should take me out into the world meeting people as the antidote to the hours of solitary writing.
This feels like another layer of grief falling away from me: I can SEE now, and the photographs reflect this. Everywhere I look I see potential images – after so long looking at the world though a curtain of bleakness (and that’s no exaggeration) all of a sudden I’m lost in Disneyworld and it’s amazing.
This is the secret I have learnt this year: to be happy we must find the thing that makes us excited; we must nurture a rich interior life, one filled with images/music/words/scents/yarns/fabrics/paints/beads/glue/films/recipes – whatever it is that make our mouth water, that honours the creative spark we all carry inside. Relationships are very important of course, but before we can commune with another (before I can commune with another) we must be able to commune with ourselves and be able to sit in that quiet space, all alone, and listen to what it is we need on a soul-level. These last two years have been a gift I was given – the chance to really be on my own, meet that woman inside myself and look her square in the eye in silence. I know one day I will consider myself lucky that I’ve had this time – I think I’m starting to already… despite the complicated ‘stuff’ that I deal with in my everyday world, this feeling of gratitude, of okay-ness, is starting to permeate every thought and feeling I have. Perhaps this is the invincibility of grief coming back – knowing I’ve survived I can take on the world! – but I don’t mind its return. No matter what the world throws at me, no matter how many disappointments and let-downs I face, I have found my inner core of self-awareness – I am my own best friend – and that means I will be okay.