How can writing help you through times of uncertainty? A good question and one that I thought about at length and in depth before putting metaphorical pen to paper.

Cassandra Campbell-Kemp, Cauliflowers Through the Catflap

Cassandra Campbell-Kemp, Cauliflowers Through the Catflap

In my case the uncertainty was initially how I, a lone female pensioner with limited mobility was going to cope, all alone, during the Coronavirus pandemic. I found that by writing I could effectively converse with someone - my alter ego - thus enabling me to build coping mechanisms but more importantly, to discover an aspect of myself that I hadn’t known existed.

I had panic attacks and there were times when, feeling completely helpless and alone and not knowing what was going to happen to me - or anyone else - I sobbed throughout the day. But the creative effort and focus required to put down how I felt became oddly compelling and I came to embrace my time at the keyboard, when everything dreadful magically dissipated and my sole - and soul - focus became turning thoughts into words. I had discovered the joy of being a writer.

My thoughts morphed into a book - ‘Cauliflowers though the Catflap’. I leapt at the chance to express what I was feeling, what I was seeing and how I was surviving, while still maintaining my somewhat dark sense of humour and genuinely finding myself able to laugh at myself. The end result was a self published book which received gratifyingly positive reviews. This then encouraged me to write a second, very different, book about my experiences living for a time in a small Italian hamlet.

Writing became my daily meditation and now that I am working on my third and researching my fourth books, I love the feeling of sliding into a world of my own making where knowing that whilst I have absolutely no control over what goes on in the outside world, at least I have power over what happens in mine. The creative process, is for me, the ability to engage with things that in an ‘ordinary’ day, simply would not surface. It is an opportunity to time slip, bi-locate and remove myself from the increasingly blood-chilling and unprecedented realities of the world today.

Like a warm bath, I retreat into my writing to float unrestrained in the pleasure of my imaginings. My creativity becomes my security, knowing that despite everything going on elsewhere I can conjure up visions, scenes and worlds which are the antithesis of the dystopian times through which we are living.

Lockdown was cathartic for me - it painlessly removed people and situations that had caused me angst. I relished my new-found freedom and being the mistress of my own destiny, it was down to me to make the choices of how to live. If I didn’t want to do something, I simply didn’t do it. The unprecedented autonomy of this way of being and my newly-found creativity led me to undiscovered facets of myself which have set me up for a more positive future.

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