Bless me someone…

  1.  I don’t have the right notebook.
  2. I don’t have the right pen.
  3. What am I doing, using paper and pen?
  4. I’m not in the right mood.
  5. The sun is not in alignment with Sagittarius.
  6. My desk needs dusting.
  7. Great film on BBC2.
  8. I have run out of lipgloss.
  9. My kitchen needs painting.
  10. I hate painting.
  11. Olympics.
  12. I am way too busy sharing my annoying first world problems with the blogosphere.
  13. It’s raining.
  14. It’s windy.
  15. The phone’s ringing.
  16. The phone hasn’t rung for days, I must check it’s working.
  17. It’s time to write my Christmas cards.
  18. I have to unfriend some people on Facebook.
  19. Just joking about that last one, I love you all!
  20. Is it on my To Do list?
  21. My postillion has been struck by lightning.

And these, oh gods of creativity, are but 21 of the reasons I was unable to create much of value this weekend. Tomorrow is Monday. Let the juices flow again.

And no excuses!

Hope you all ‘got stuff done’.

Mel X


Can we take a Holiday?

It’s Easter Monday. It’s about 8pm, so the holiday weekend is all but over. But is it a holiday from creating stuff? Well, I just can’t get my mind out of ‘holiday fun and lazing around mode’. Am I wrong?

Of course, I can put it down to recharging the batteries all the better to free up my creative flow. Some people will have used the four day weekend as an opportunity for some uninterrupted creative activity, even if it’s only painting the kitchen. Not me. I was looking forward to sightseeing and walking the countryside of south west England. The weather prognosis wasn’t looking so great, but I’m certainly not put off by a bit of rain. A bit of rain? It poured down in buckets, accompanied by the horrific winds that preceded Storm Katie, so walking was pretty much off the agenda. Even a short walk yesterday to Durdle Door was the most stressful mile I’ve ever taken on, walking straight into a headwind.

Yes, it was just a mile, and I was almost defeated. That’s what’s wrong. The sense of defeat and of something unachieved. The very activities intended to recharge said batteries didn’t get ticked off the ‘to-do list’. So there’s a feeling of deflation and, yes, of something missing. Damn you, English weather. A weekend lost and I’ve got to focus on the ‘to-do’ list for the rest of this week. I actually need to read a work-related book, but I’m using this blog as a displacement activity – there’s a first!

Happily, I have lots of interviews coming up for the podcast, so watch out for those. I am genuinely thrilled to have so much great stuff in the pipeline. It’s been a while. Another writing project is making slow progress, too.

So, what have I learned this weekend? Well, I’m not sure. Maybe it’s to let myself off if I don’t create anything, even though that could be a slippery slope, the start of me always forgiving my own inactivity.  Maybe it’s that I need to press on, whatever happens. A little a day, I’m really not good at that. I have learnt that even out of adverse weather, you can occasionally get a good photo. Well, I think it’s good. It’s Lyme Regis just before sunset. Wait a minute, that was creative, right? Go me!



I hope your Easter break, if you had one, was productive -or not, if that is what you chose. I hope also that you’re ready to tackle the challenges of the week ahead. I hope I am too.

Happy creating.



Episode Two of Squatting Toad – Emma McArthur

Here it is, Episode Two. So now, Squatting Toad is officially a series.I really hope you enjoy this interview with Emma McArthur of emmalucymakes.

As I’ve said before, I love what Emma does and wish I had the patience and staying power to create like that. If you’ve previous posts, you will know I do love a  good displacement activity (or even a bad one!).

I was really struck, though, by Emma’s description of the creative colleagues she’s met in her life in publishing and bookselling. Bookshops and publishers are natural homes for people who do interesting, creative things in their free time. Last year, I met a lovely bookseller in Switzerland who was passionate about her sideline as a make-up artist. One day, she hoped for it not to be a sideline, but, in the meantime, was enjoying her days surrounded by books and her spare time brining joy to people on their wedding days or other special occasions. Her passion was infectious and meeting people like her made me want to start this project.

I hope we’ll hear more from Emma as we progress. And, Emma, some Squatting Toad bunting perhaps?

In the meantime, if all this creativity and mindfulness is too much for you, there’s always displacement. Showjumping Swedish rabbits anyone??

Claudette Colbert and the Fine Art of the Displacement Activity


Heck! It’s been two weeks since I last posted. For shame. But I’ve been busy. What? Ooh all sorts of things. Those kitchen cupboards really did need a scrub. And then I ran out of cat milk, so that was at least one trip to the pet shop. And then there was Claudette. She’s not solely to blame,but can I help it if YouTube has an inexhaustable supply of Hollywood classics available for my viewing pleasure, at all hours of the day?  No. Am I at fault if the lesser known vintage film ‘Sleep My Love’ ensnares my feeble will within 90 seconds and I am compelled to watch on?  No.  I mean, it was clear from the start that that Don Ameche was a wrong ‘un, but how much he was willing to torture his poor, beautiful, sophisticated and, did I mention, wealthy, wife, I had to know. One hour and thirty one minutes later, all was resolved. But wait, if I liked that movie, perhaps I’d like this one, or that documentary…and on it goes. Another blog post unwritten and another few hours set aside for the podcast gone in a puff of Claudette’s elegant cigarette. (Is it just me,or must everything have stunk to high heaven of smoke and tar in the 1940’s?)

Why do we procrastinate so, when getting the job done would be infinitely healthier for our stress levels? Are we afraid, or is it pure sloth?

I posit, in the first podcast episode (coming soon, I promise!), that the little voice inside one’s head is the most insidious barrier to creativity I know. Maybe I should give mine a name. Claudette, perhaps. But I’m not sure whether it’s male or female and this is not the place I want to start any musings on gender interplay.

Can you deafen yourself to the words of the little voice, or would doing that mean it shouts all the louder in the future?  My personal view is that you can train yourself to do just that, without the risk of greater harm down the line. Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, which has gained in acceptance and usage in recent times is predicated on exactly this, so there’s a theory behind it. How successful any of us can be at ridding ourselves of what is,after all, a fear of failure, without outside help, I just don’t know.

I interviewed a good friend and creator for the podcast the other week. She said ‘If you wake up in the morning and you don’t feel like doing a blog post, maybe it’s the wrong thing for you.’ She used blogging as an example, but it could apply to most creative endeavours, and Squatting Toad is all about the creative endeavour.

Do you feel excited if you sit down to create something of your own? Or do you feel nervous? For some, that fear can be channelled healthily into driving the process. On a personal level, that’s what I’m working towards.

Episode one of the podcast is nearly done and it will be a milestone for me. I’m not aiming for millions of listeners. I am aiming to create something I like and that I hope others will too.

I want to believe that every day she was at work, making those glamorous films, Claudette Colbert, and others like her, revelled in the excitement of it all, and that it went some way to overcoming any anxiety. We know, of course, that the self-medicating anxious, nay neurotic, star performer is a cliche with its roots in the reality of the high pressure put upon the highly successful. Well, let’s not aim to get to that right now. Let’s take joy in the fact that we have so many opportunities to create and, for some of us, a finished product is almost a reality.

Happy creating