Journeying down the rabbit hole

The beginning of March last year, I was feeling very buoyant after holding the book launch of my latest poetry anthology, a Poetry Reading in aid of a local charity.  The evening had gone very well and they had asked me about the possibility of running some others in the future, for the same charity.

Over the next few weeks however, we entered what felt like our own dystopian film set, as we set off down the rabbit hole into our first lockdown.

The arrival of lockdown

For me, the biggest change is being unable to see friends and business colleagues. We don’t have children or family locally – not that we see them anyway. This makes us sound a very solitary couple, but in fact we are not. We do have lots of friends. They are who we miss the most.  

The weirdest thing was watching the news and seeing empty streets around the world, devoid of the usual rush hour traffic, and commuters scurrying to their offices. Viewing crowds of masked faces, and watching a seeming conveyor-belt of coffins. Unashamedly crying, as families talked of loved ones lost to this terrible virus we couldn’t see, and some believed was fake news.

It was as though the whole world was holding its breath, scared to inhale.

Changes to my business life

Just before Easter, when the cases of Covid were growing exponentially, whilst out on our healthy, exercising walk, I tripped and damaged my arm. It felt serious, and was incredibly painful, although I didn’t think broken, and certainly didn’t want to take a trip to A & E, which in my mind, held far too many fears and dangers.

Over the next weeks, and even months, my arm took its time to heal, making putting any weight on it, or lifting anything heavy, difficult.  I hadn’t even considered picking up my camera, which with lens’ attached is very heavy.

I was still writing, albeit one-handedly typing, obviously at a slower rate.  

People photography is something I love, but I wasn’t as busy as I’d have liked, and lockdown made it impossible to continue at that time.  And I wasn’t missing it.

I made the decision to close my photography business of twelve years.

New ventures

Greatly supported by my husband and my best friend, Fiona, having already begun to mentor a few people with their writing, and having run several writing workshops, I decided to fully embrace my author persona.

First, I contacted my regular photography clients to inform them of the change, and aim them towards other photographers I recommended.

I closed my photography website and social media pages, and set up a small one-page, author website.  I already had author social media pages.

Prior to lockdown, I had met with a contact from a publishing company in Bristol and over the next few months, they sent two people my way who required a mentor to help them organise and finish their books.

I started writing blogs for my friend, and was also approached by some other people who required writer mentoring.

Amazingly, my new writing career has taken off.  This month, two of my mentees have sent their manuscripts back to the publishers and I’m hoping to see their books published later this year.

I started an online poetry group, which meets once a month and have enjoyed seeing the growth in the members writing. My own poetry writing has also developed during lockdown as I’ve attempted poems based on a broader variety of subjects.

2021, in Lockdown 3,I’m one year away from my three score years and ten, and this is my third career change since starting work in 1974.  Not surprisingly, as the arts were my best school subjects, all three have been in the creative fields; Music (education), photography and now as an author- writing mentor and poet.  No-one could accuse me of having a fear of change!

The lockdown has been a horrendous time, with far too many people leaving us, and too many people losing their livelihoods, but I am grateful that I have been able to change my direction, and continue to explore my creative side.

As an optimist, I know there is hope.