On the local news here in the Scottish Borders, viewers voted for their favourite Scot’s word and this actually tallies with the Scottish Book Trust’s findings. That word is dreich, (pronounced dreek), meaning long and sustained wet, foggy weather where there is not even a splinter of sunlight to shine a light. There is literally a dense grey filter in the sky. Well, it has indeed being dreich here for over a week, but just today, the frost and sparkle returned, and what a difference! When I first moved to the Borders I very quickly took to the word ‘dreich’ when I heard it being spoken, and if you roll the ‘r’ it sounds even better, with a hint of German in there too. But apart from that word popping into my head whenever I’m walking alongside the hedgerows in this weather, a nursery rhyme also drifts into my mind, proving that the inner child is always ready to stimulate us if we allow it to have a say.
Here’s the poem below, illustrated by Hilda Boswell (1903-1976)
This was in a collection of nursery rhymes I was given for Christmas so many years ago, where the lilts and paintings imprinted themselves in my memory and imagination forever. And I know I’m not alone in this childhood memory delight. I went on to receive two more collections of illustrated fairytales and poems by Hilda in the following Christmases. Hilda worked in watercolour, which was the first painting medium I really mastered so many years later, and she loved the work of Arthur Rackham, as I do. Here is one of AR’s which I found to pop into this post to fit the mood of the dreich weather:
Now many people really don’t like this November dreich. It can bring down their mood, they may say we’ve got five more months of this to go, as if they want the time to just fly on by and then they can bask once again in whatever Mother Nature bestows upon us in the following summer months, and it surely must be sunshine. But of course, nothing is guaranteed, something we are all becoming very aware of these days with climate change so very obviously exerting effects – like flooding, which we’ve had in the UK in the last few weeks. And at this time of year, some people are prone to seasonal affective disorder, otherwise known as SAD, where depression can really set in and everything feels sluggish and oppressively dark. I know I was affected by this for one particular year.
So what can creative people do when dreich November ushers in the winter season and how does that relate to us never being too old?
Well, this is actually where creative people are quite fortunate because of what we are already predisposed to enjoy doing, and because our inner child loves to learn more. Without this inner child, I don’t believe actually enjoying, or even being, creative is possible. That’s why it has to be a case of us never being too old for new things.
So in this dreich, we can go for COLOUR. I always make sure I have a painting on the go with a daylight lamp blazing onto it. Here is the peony painting prepped for the marbling pattern to ensue. You can see I haven’t got much further than the last time I shared this, but that’s fine, it sits there waiting for a bit more work.
We can give the light bulbs in our house a ‘review’ and see if some of them could do with a power boost to brighten the ambiance. We can utilise a bit of light therapy with a daylight lamp on our writing desk or painting desk.
We can get out and exercise when the rain stops. Just go for it before the rain returns, you’ll feel better for it. In the misty moist you’ll be glad to get into the warmth when you get home. In the frosts you can savour the scintillating splendour and soak up some sunlight.
We can enjoy wearing scarves, hats, or jumpers, with multi-coloured yarns, that we may have knitted or crocheted ourselves, or have bought in a craft shop, or have been given by a friend. These have a cosy glow all of their own.
We can craft our way through the dull days, where one project soon leads on to another and another, as the inner child gathers momentum. It’s the ideal time to try something new.
This is my current crochet project :
I never ever though I could learn to do afghan squares. I never ever thought I could crochet a hat for myself, but I now have two. I know it must seem as if I do all sorts but I’ve been at this creative life for a while now. I’m 57, so I’ve had time to learn and develop new creative passions to express myself. The idea of letting one go because I have embraced the challenge of another is anathema to me, and creativity, by nature, doesn’t like being restricted, as I’m sure many of you know and understand all too well. I sometimes worry that doing more than one creative ‘craft’ can be interpreted as not taking each one seriously, or not deciding which is really ‘you’, with the subliminal message being you can’t be a committed writer as well as a committed artist. Obviously, you have to prioritise one over the other when necessary – that’s a given. But there are so few blogs for people doing more than one creative pursuit, that it often feels to me that you must be purist to be professional. One creative person I know who springs to mind, relies upon being multidisciplinary – and that’s my online pal, Andy Pope, who writes, composes, and performs. That’s how he came to write a musical for the theatre. As my thinking escalates, maybe this is a topic best left to a future post :>) Well, I am bound to two purist pursuits and they feed eachother well for me. Writing and painting are my priority work, with crochet and sewing for leisure, and I’m very pleased to get this off my chest!
Going back to the dreich of the season, we can write and escape into another world where the time really does fly by, but where you do not have to suffer the pull of the outdoors, where the sun marches through the window and taps on your shoulder saying Hey, you can’t ignore me! Get yourself out! With dreich weather we are sanctioned to stay in.
Another thing I never thought I’d be able to do is design ads and promotion visuals to advertise my novels or anything else I need to draw attention to. In the past I had the ideas but had to get my hubby to help, and that sometimes became quite fraught ;>) Arty versus techy can be a volatile mix. But in the last few weeks, I have found such pleasure in this design work, primarily due to a slow building up of skills over the years, and then finding the wonderful free designing website of CANVA. If any of you are curious, I urge you to have a play. Believe me, if I can do it, so can you. Another site that some writers amongst you may like (for those of you who don’t know about it already) is HERE for 3D images of your books. So simple and free to use and the designs look great – I’ll share one next time.
And in the last few days I’ve been ready to press the publishing button for After Black – feeling this strange sense of tense suspended animation. Then this morning, I thought, enough is enough, and the button is now pressed! It will take a little while to become active, and I guess I will have to designate a ‘launch’ day, which doesn’t come instinctively to me at all. But at least my inner child has let go of their paper boat from the side of the pond in the park and the boat has sailed into the mist. And I’ve decided that the approach to Christmas time is a touch of serendipity as the story begins straight after Christmas.
Here’s hoping you are all keeping warm, enjoying your crafts, whatever they happen to be, and remember to nourish your inner child – you really are never too old.
(PS the home flooring plans went from plan A to B to C – but all sorted now!)