So, it’s fair to say that things have been more than a little weird of late. This year, or 6 months of it, has seen a living experience unlike any other. It hasn’t all been bad, and I’ve begone to reflect on life during lockdown, and the good things it brought me, such as time and space to explore creative ideas. I’ve written half of my novel during lockdown, several poems, finished a draft of a Black Mirror episode I’d been working on as a ‘fun’ project on the sideline of my regular work. I wrote a lockdown diary, which I’m considering publishing one day, based on the experiences of being separated from my long-term boyfriend who has always lived outside the 5 mile area that Welsh government imposed. I also ventured into the world of video recordings, posting weekly readings of my work on my Facebook authors page. Something that I never imagined doing before the lockdown. and which pushed me way out of my comfort zone. Yet I enjoyed doing it and the feedback was great.
Oh, and I landed a new side job, writing for Lifeseeker Wales about wellbeing and positive living within West Wales. Something very close to my own heart. So creatively, things had never been better. And I notice, as things start to move towards some essence of normality, albeit slower on this side of the border, that as life and adulting begins to take over again, the anxiety, the lack of time, the lack of space for creative ideas, begins to take hold again.
So I’ve been completing a journal exercise, through Psychologies Magazine, which has enabled me to reflect on life in lockdown. On the good things, as well as bad, what I’ve learnt, what’s surprised me – particularly the realisation that I love to be creative in other ways, crafting for instance. Never could I have imagined, a time before lockdown, when I would have made the time to make bunting, out of card and ribbon, for Hay Literature Festival. That week, back in May, was one of the all time highs. Daily events with authors and public speakers, joining online with people from all over the world, to watch, to listen and learn. The highlight was the 250th Anniversary celebration of William Wordsworth, with readings by famous names such as Margaret Atwood (I’d only recently discovered her Handmaids Tale), Simon Armitage , Vanessa Redgrave and a very frazzled looking Tom Holland. Another highlight was Shakespeare every day of the year, a pre-recorded out door event which featured a fabulous Helena Bonham-Carter, Dominic West and Allie Esiri as narrator. The wonderfully colourful and enchanting production showed what could be done under the harshest restrictions. The random props and allusion to social distancing, with Bonham-Carter waving a tape measure and telling West to ‘get back’ very much in character, added a humour and delight to the viewing. While Ali Smith’s essay, read in her poignant Scottish accent, over a film montage of images created by Sarah Wood, added an element of thought and reflection to the lockdown experience, breaking down the very beginning of language and looking at how the meaning and use would change. It was so thought provoking and dense that I had to watch it twice. As in life before 2020, Hay Festival lead the way in digital festival viewing, where the likes of Henley and Cheltenham would follow. They offered all online events for free via the crowdcast platform, simply asking for donations and offering a £10 subscription to Hay Player, to access all events of the festival past and present.
I’ve also had time to read a lot more, having recently finished Booker Prize winning novel, Girl, Woman, Other by Bernadine Evaristo. A wonderful and refreshing look at women of all ages and backgrounds, exploring gender identity, race, sexuality, relationships and family life. It really made me think what it might be like to be a woman of colour, to live the life of any of those characters. The prejudices we face and show ourselves every day. How the world is changing and we need to move with it.
I’m currently reading Matt Haig’s, The Midnight Library. A beautiful tale of one woman’s struggle to fit in in a world where she feels alone, and depressed. A surprise visit to the midnight library, when she contemplates ending her life, offers her the chance to address her regrets and try out the lives she never got to live. It’s no coincidence that both of these books I have chosen deal with living a different life, with the changes of society and the way we live, the way people treat us and how we see ourselves. I think we will all be looking to learn and grow and change after this. We will be looking for new opportunities and experiences. When we have realised that what we have is so precious.
Life after lockdown for me, is much slower paced. I am still writing and enjoying my new role with Lifeseeker. I read and watch TV series. I meet friends occasionally for lunch or coffee. I ensure I get enough sleep and eat well. I still do pilates weekly. I take walks (a regular thing during lockdown) and drink tea.
I am waiting to start back at my theatre role in the very near future. A world which I have missed dearly. A world of creativity, of magic and life. I miss the people and the atmosphere. The buzz of a full auditorium and a live show. Yet I have appreciated the calm and the quiet and the free time to be me. So I guess life after lockdown for me, will be one of balance. Of choosing my priorities and ensuring I have time and space to let things settle. There are some big life changes underway too, so things might look quite different in the near future.