It’s been another week between posts – a rarity, as I usually am rushing to post about something or other every two or three days. I’ve had this week off work, and it’s given me time to catch up with myself in a few ways. I’ve managed to do things in the house that I’ve been wanting to do for ages, and in the process of sifting old letters and giving the kitchen dresser a coat of linseed oil, I’ve also had some time to reflect.
When I began this blog in May 2010, I never thought I would be posting on it every few days. I had no idea that people all over the world would take an interest in little old Aberdeen; I also had no idea of how interested I myself am in Aberdeen! I was unaware that I really love to take photographs, and never foresaw that I’d soon carry the camera with me everywhere I went. I hadn’t imagined how many interesting, creative and fun people I would “meet” in the blogosphere. I thought that as the Dafter was beginning high school I would have more time to write, and that this blog, “Writing from Scotland,” would have the occasional post about the category I called my “Writing Life”.
How differently things have turned out! The Dafter has had a very difficult year, although I now feel that she is finally beginning to heal from a dreadful experience both with bullying and with a secondary school unable to cope with the blasted Curriculum for Excellence. Between one thing and another there’s been very little opportunity to turn my attention inward during my official writing time, much less to work on something extended. The year hasn’t been entirely bereft of Writing Life – I was thrilled when a poem of mine was selected for National Poetry Day in October; I also hosted Leila Aboulela In Conversation at the Word Festival last month, and I have two short stories coming out later this year. However, all of this turns to ashes when the safety and happiness of your child is in the balance.
This past year has reminded me that the most precious thing in the entire world is my family. I enjoy writing, and I hope to have a chance to do more in the future. But I’ve needed to turn my deepest attention to my darling Dafter. Every step of the way, I’ve been aware that one day soon she won’t be needing me so much, and we won’t be having chats on the way to the bus every morning. It’s been an interesting balancing act of trying to be available to help when she needs me, and at the same time having confidence that she will be fine without me. There have been many days that I have literally prayed my way through! I’ve tried to remember Gandhi’s saying: “You must be the change you wish to see in the world.” This blog, and the many insightful, kind and supportive comments that have come in, has been the biggest help to me! It’s given me a sense of perspective, it’s helped me to look more closely for beauty and joy, and it’s made me feel so comforted to realise how many people are out there who share my values and interests. Thank you, everyone, for that!
So this past week, I’ve enjoyed putting some order into the family archives, doing some redecorating, and also doing some knitting. The tea cosy kit was a Christmas present from a friend and I love how quirky and funny it is. All these things might seem dull and domestic, but I know that when I do get a chance to focus more on my writing, the things I’ve learned in our family life will be threaded intrinsically into whatever comes through. The Dafter, meanwhile, has been highly creative and will be sharing some of her art here towards the end of her holidays.