What have I been doing in the last three months?

Added on Saturday 17 May 2003

Three months since this diary was updated, and if I was asked what I'd been doing in that time, I'd be hard pushed to come up with an answer.

I have been working. On Tuesdays I teach Adult Literacy and Life Skills for the Worker's Educational Association, and on Wednesdays I'm at Trongate Studios in town, running creative writing workshops. This is a project involving Project Ability and Survivors' Poetry, whereby visual artists and writers take part in Art workshops on a Monday, and writing workshops on a Wednesday. Eventually there will be an exhibition and a publication featuring work from both workshops. I'm assisted by the wonderful Donna Campbell, whom I first met years ago when I worked for Survivors' Poetry, and the standard of work being produced is extremely high.

Sometimes working at enabling others to access their own skills and creativity can leave a writer a bit drained of inspiration. I had been feeling arid and blocked creatively for quite some time, but then my friend Deborah January sent me a wonderful book 'The Artist's Way?' by Julia Cameron. The Artist's Way is a 'course in discovering and recovering your creative self' and is aimed at everyone, not just writers or painters. Unlike a lot of Self-help books this one is extremely practical. Writing three pages of longhand writing daily. on whatever comes into your head is prescribed for accountants, teachers, shop assistants, everyone. So is the Artist's Date, where you take yourself off out for a couple of hours once a week. Your date is something just for you, to roam, look at things, clear your head so there's room for ideas and inspiration, whether it concerns your next novel, or what colour you want to paint the bathroom, or your toenails.

The book is published by Pan at ?12.99, and is worth every penny; I can't recommend it highly enough. I've been making collages, writing poetry, which I haven't done in years, and slowly getting over my fear of re-writing Precious Little, and making it the book I've been trying to write all this time.

On the social front, until recently I was a complete hermit, but things have brightened up in the past couple of weeks. We had visitors from Sweden; Rose Britten-Austen and her husband Peter. I met Rose's parents, Paul and Margarita when I was in Grez a few years back, and they were very kind to me, so when Paul emailed to say his daughter and her husband were coming to Scotland I was delighted. Rose is a sculptor, who resembles a young Virginia Woolf, and Peter is a classical singer. They came to dinner one night, and we had a lovely evening. Rose would hate me for saying this, but having Ingmar Bergman's niece in my wee Anniesland flat was quite something. And just last Sunday I went to the Ubiquitous Chip for the first time in ages. I was with my friend Mary Long who is an extremely committed and busy family therapist, and we were both dying to just sit somewhere and people-watch. However, we ended up in good company which included Arthur McGough, development manager of the Annexe in Partick, and friends of his. Arthur is a really nice, funny guy, and we had a great time. One of the topics of conversation was the tunes you find running through your head. On Sunday mine was When Johnnie Comes Marching Home, Arthur's was the Doors?' Hello I Love You, Won't You Tell Me Your Name' and another friend' was Swanee River. Mary said she didn't have one, but I didn't believe her. Anyway, when you start talking about stuff like that, it becomes contagious, and I spent all day Monday with D I X IE going round and round in my head, and I assume Johnnie came marching home through some other poor soul's.

I don't have any writer's news for you, apart from West End Festival events which can be found in their programme.

I do have some fantastic news of my own, though. I'm going to be a granny again. My daughter Cara (see photo at the top of my Character's page) and her fianc? Kevin are expecting their first child in December. So Aimie, who is four, will have a wee cousin, and I'm back to haunting Mothercare again. Also, I'm going to be fifty in July, but the least said about that the better.

Till the next time

Maggie Graham