Let’s Get Started

“I haven’t read any posts on your blog lately, are you still writing?”  This question has been asked of me more than once in the past several months.  I’ve asked it of myself as well, though I know the answer.  No.  I haven’t been writing my blog.  I haven’t felt inspired, nor felt I had any ideas worthy of putting into words.  Where are my stories?  Do we have any stories worth telling?  Of course, the more time passes, the more this creeping doubt and fear of being unable to produce grows.

What’s behind my creative slowdown since March?   I’m certain it’s normal, but it has been months.  I don’t want to throw in the towel.  Instead I’d like to carry on sharing our adventures and misadventures.   I have my list of ideas.  I make little notes and observations on scraps of paper.   I enjoy the connection with others when I share what I write.  This blog isn’t just a summary, it is an exposition for others.  Selfishly, it is also a record for Roger and me.  In writing, I am offered a chance to reflect on our environment, our projects, and the very essence of what it means for us to be here at Crockern.  And yet, I can’t seem to sit still and think.  Is this what it means to have writer’s block?

I suspect the truth for me lays somewhere else.  I have been in recovery mode since my Dad died and the year of closing of his affairs.   Being his executor occupied me with so much to do, but left me no time to sit with the feelings of grief.   Being busy had become my destiny and the only way I knew how to operate.  Do.  Do some more.  Then do even more.  But don’t stop and think about it.

We also lost Roger’s Mom about 6 months ago.  At 91, Win lived a life full of adventure and quiet introspection.  Her times at Crockern have been captured in various essays.  There was her first visit to Widdicombe Fair shortly after we moved to Crockern, something she never thought she would do in her life.  Bookend this with one of her last visits to Crockern on a wet and muddy December, remarking as she stepped out of the car, “This place is a dump.”  We know it’s not, but we quote her regularly, particularly after extended days of wet weather.

To break through this so-called writer’s block and squash my growing belief of having nothing to document, I try everything:  Go for a walk.  Eliminate distractions.  Engage in distractions.  Change my environment.  Read.  Listen to music.  Turn music off.  Create a routine.  Free oneself from the tyranny of routine.   And still, nothing.  What is tempting is procrastination.  But my procrastination comes in the form of being busy with projects, usually work related.  Stay focused and not a single drifting and uncensored thought can appear.

The house is clean.  My closet has been culled.  My project list for 2020 is evolving nicely.  And for the first time in what seems like weeks, it isn’t raining.  Today, as I put on my hat and coat heading outside with the dogs, I begin to work on the garden.  It is in need of tidying.   I like gardening in winter for exactly this reason.  As I am clipping back dead plants, emptying pots so they don’t crack when it gets colder, clearing drains and picking up fallen branches, I noticed my mind begins to drift.  Not just to making a mental note of the next thing to do, but really drift.

While I’m bent over considering how to repair a loose stone in the garden wall, Brock is busy guarding the front gate.  He lays under what he must think is deep cover in order to launch a surprise attack to any dog approaching the gate.  From stealth repose, he leaps up and erupts into a chorus of protective barking.  As the surprised dog and its peeps move on, Brock knowingly races to the back gate, lies in wait and recommences his barking.  There’s no point in trying to stop him.  He sees this as his job and he intends to do it well.   Meanwhile, Millie wisely lays in a spot to see if she needs to provide any support to Brock, but never letting me out of her sight.  Who knows, she’s wondering perhaps I’ll take a break from gardening and take her to the river.  She is keeping all options available.

High in the trees, the birds are happily singing.  I stand to stretch my back to an upright position and am struck by the views.

Today the light is hazy, adding a softness to the winter golds and browns on the hillside.  The grey tors of Dartmoor are in view, perfectly framed and proportioned.  They make me think of John Constable paintings beautiful and brooding in equal measure.  And then it hits me.   The desire to sit by the fire and type away.  Not for any other purpose than to simply enjoy it.  I don’t have the feeling of “I better do a blog posting or give it up entirely.”  No, that towel is not being thrown today.  Just get on with it, there are more than a few stories yet to tell.  Where to begin.  There is the one about the new generator.  Oh, and the radiators.  The near fire.  Our swanky PH regulator and UV filter for our water system.  The wildflower meadow and the beginnings of our pond.   Erosion.  Endless pot holes.   Fun adventures with friends and family, Millie and Brock, and any number of other critters about the place.

Oh there are ideas.  There are the words.  And there are all the distractions to get me inspired.  Off to take Millie and Brock to the river.




37 comments on “Let’s Get Started

  1. Eileen says:

    Welcome back Catherine and Happy New Year! xx

  2. Beth says:

    Been wondering how you are. Thank you for sharing your thoughts. Give the dogs a good run for me.

  3. Paul Blaney says:

    Good to have you back

  4. Mary Framptom-Price says:

    Welcome back, Catherine! Your thoughtful, not to mention entertaining and often amusing, writing has been missed. What a lovely way to usher in a new decade. Happy New Year to you and Roger. xx

    Sent from my iPhone


  5. Jenny Stewart says:

    Lovely writing Catherine. Wishing you all a happy new year 💚xxx

  6. Jens says:

    For me, healing took time, too. Enjoying what’s good has helped, and nature and our dogs are great healers for me. So can be other people, if I can connect with them on my own terms. I could never force my creative writing, it always comes back when I’m in a good place.
    You will be fine.

  7. Nice surprise, your post in my inbox this morning, Catherine. Glad you’re feeling able to write again. It would be a shame to waste all those good stories.

  8. jllevitan says:

    Welcome back! I offer you this quote “May the tears you cried in 2020 water the seeds you’re planting for 2020.”

  9. Mary Ann Swerdfeger says:

    Nice to read about your country life. I miss you, my friend.

  10. We were as close as Buckfastleigh in October! Had we had a car instead of travelling everywhere by train, I’d have been tempted to look you up…perhaps another trip. Always said I’d rather have UK weather over our Eastern Ontario winters, but after this last trip, I’m not so sure. Really had to work hard to come home with memories of good-weather days, but I managed it. After so many weeks of rain, I’m not surprised “The Dump” has been muddy! Reminds me that when my Brit husband’s mother first visited his northern Ontario home many years ago, her comment was that it looked like a shanty town!

  11. carolyns says:

    You must be a mind reader! Just yesterday I looked at the blogs I follow on WordPress and wondered how you were getting on at Crockern. Your wonderful description of Brock and Millie above are reason enough to continue your blog – you write so well and always make me smile. So I really hope you find your muse in 2020 and share with us your stories of the new generator and the radiators. The near fire. Your swanky PH regulator and UV filter. The wildflower meadow and the beginnings of the pond. Erosion. Endless pot holes. Fun adventures with friends and family, Millie and Brock, and any number of other critters. Not to mention your wonderful photography which I love. So here’s wishing a happy, healthy and creative New Year to you both. Carolyn

  12. Ann Segrave says:

    So good to read your lovely writing again! And it certainly struck a chord with me – I have written little since Daisy was born, and she is now nearly 6 and a half! But I feel the sap rising… It will return Catherine.

    A very happy new year to you and Roger

    Ann & Mike

  13. Dana Crowe says:

    Cathy, This is Dana. Just wanted to reach out and say hello. Lots to talk about, on both sides of the ocean. I will write more when i get the right moment.

    Love, Dana

    Sent from my iPhone


  14. Great post! I get writer’s block sometimes as well. My mom and dad have both passed now and it does take a while to move forward. At first, we don’t notice what the problem is, and it may not even be that our parents have passed. We have memories of them that linger, and sometimes remembering words they have said that were unpleasant. Every day is a new beginning and time to take a deep breath and step out of the bed and be thankful for another day. As gardeners and landowners, we have a lot of responsibility not just to ourselves but to life around us. They are glad we are here and need our attention just as much as we need theirs. We just need to be thankful, stay positive, and always move forward. We do indeed have a lot to be thankful for. I am sure when the time is right you will once again be inspired to write, and write you will.

  15. Patty Hilton-Johnson says:

    Hi Catherine,

    Nice to hear from you via the blog again! Thanks for your e-Christmas card. I did wonder if you’d given up the blog writing. Sorry about Roger’s mum. She must have been quite the character. I do love hearing about your life on your lovely farm–and I’m sure it’s not a dump!

    I’ve been totally uninspired by my writing–and I’m in the middle of a six-month online historical fiction writing course with The History Quill. Getting good peer/tutor comments, but I look at the comments and think I can’t be bothered about making the revisions. Quite disheartening, really. I’ll stick out the course, but after that, not sure. I have a stack of books in my TBR pile, and all I want to do is sit by the fire and get stuck in!! And we haven’t even had any snow yet….

    Happy new year to you, Roger, Brock, Millie and other assorted animals!

    Pat xx

  16. Caryl says:

    I am glad you are feeling it again as I have missed your blog. I am sorry that you have had such a distressing year, here is to a good and productive 2020.

  17. Joan says:

    Oh Catherine it’s so good to be transported to Dartmoor and to know that you are back again.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s