What do you do, away from the desk?
Apart from ‘procrastination - with another coffee …’, there’s an enormous liberation in walking …
We live in a very rural county
Yes, we live in big city, an overcrowded city with more child poverty than the thousands of tourists who visit every year to cram our streets and shops and ancient buildings from Christmas to summer holidays inclusive would believe. But, this is primarily a rural county, with hundreds of acres of farmland, estates owned by private landowners, by the University, and by its various Colleges.
A few years ago, some of us from church formed a small, unambitious walking group: pilgrimage had been featuring on the church calendar, and we decided that although we’d not do a big Pilgrimage such as Compostela or Jerusalem, or even Canterbury, we could manage an escape to our own countryside. Where we wander between two or three country churches, and end up with refreshments in a village pub. This year, the weather and ‘stuff’ has delayed plans since last December: but last weekend enough us were free, and the weather was great for walking. We did about 10 kilometres, and we all felt blessed.
It's something I suspect we writers can feel guilty about
- not getting on with the W.I.P. does have that effect. But … having set myself a deadline for novel number 3 in the ‘Mullins Family Series’, and then finding that Life, or rather God, had knowledge I didn’t in terms of the wider picture, I’ve realised that it is at present a time for Other Things. While the story is on hold, there’s time to find the me who writes the story … While attending a church where I’m not on any rotas and have no responsibilities I’ve learned and worshipped better… Beyond ‘doing stuff’ at a small LItFest, I’ve benefitted from re-visiting all that Away from the Desk means (for me):
Baking lots of cakes/cookies
Doing the garden
Turning up to my Book Group
having read the book
Praying with friends,
in a garden,
urrounded by birdsong
Being available to properly listen to a friend in a 2-hour phone conversation (her call!)
Finding a really nurturing church,
with imaginative worship and great teaching
Paying real attention my painting,
and engaging with an on-line
artists’ FB group
Dog-walking with a
neighbour in our nearby nature reserve
Being a creative human being created by our Creator
and, of course the wider country walking …
Our Scriptures are full of creativity …
- gardens appear there more than once, as does the Wilderness, the Psalms are full of descriptions nature …Jesus and his followers spent a great deal of time outside, walking … praying … interacting with others … all of this is nurturing, and in order to be creative, we have an inbuilt need to involve ourselves, deeply, in God’s creation - for we ourselves are part of it all … Consider the lilies, how they grow … Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.
Mari Howard is a writer and painter: her novels Baby, Baby and The Labyrinth Year, and the ‘WIP’ Love You to the Moon, engage with a contemporary Christian/secular romance and the subsequent family, living through the present time of secularism and social change, and including an element of mystery and social commentary.
She grew up in London, studied at Newcastle University, and lives in Oxford. Her favourite places are Scargill and West Cornwall.
Mari is also working on some spiritual non-fiction.