Artist in Recovery is the title of my next book. I am excited to share the news that Lionstower Books (Mount Books imprint, for poetry and romance volumes) will be publishing it, and that it forms my first poetry collection.
The title was written and intended as Woman as Artist: Walking the dark forest path from maiden to mother, the collection weaves together the grief, beauty, love, and ecstasy of pregnancy and motherhood; the trauma, pains, grief, and loss of hiding your artist in the shadows; and the excitement, fury, and process of emerging as a creative artist.
There are so many ways in which woman overlaps artist and creator, and so many ways in which it’s an untold, sacred tale.
This book is a poetry collection about woman as artist.
This theme of Woman as Artist is the beginning of a new era of place-being for me. In fact, it’s not really my work. I feel as though I channeled most of it. It’s just that I was the best creator for this material.
I’m not done with this space. There is so much depth to plumb. So many stories untold. So much hidden.
In my experience, women don’t tell stories of beauty and love. There are many moments of shared trauma; of angst, failure, limitation. We get lost among them, when the beauty of life can be so intense that it catches your breath. Women are creators; I realised in writing one of the poems for the collection that people became obsessed by their ability to render humans in perfect realism, that this has been a benchmark for artistic output for hundreds of years. But women create humans perfectly, at a rate of three hundred per minute, and nobody ever puts them on a pedestal and cheers them for doing divine work.
Perhaps it’s time that we did.
I wrote Artist in Recovery over a period of 8 weeks; the first four to a self-imposed deadline; the second four to a publisher’s deadline. It comprises approximately 150 poems, all of which were written by hand. Mostly in the dark. Usually very late at night. (Or extremely early in the morning.) Always with a sleeping one-year-old beside me. This equates, I realise, to about 3 poems per day, and what it tells me is that I am capable of continuous artistic output even when I don’t have vast tracts of time in which to do it.
It surprised me to begin writing in what Past Me would have considered to be a ‘feminist’ space.
Right now, I’m just rolling with it. Because it feels amazing.
The learning has been immense.
Writing this poetry collection has taught me how to listen.
It also taught me:
- how to be led by a force bigger than me
- how to write without paying too much attention to where the puzzle pieces go
- how to trust that the collection will be complete, even as each poem comes out as it will. I had to learn that when I sequence them afterwards that it will be perfect.
- how to write even when I apparently have “no time” to do so.
One of the most astonishing things that I learned was that sequencing afterwards always works! I’d become so analytical, so stuck in literal logical, so bound by the apparent need to plan that I had caused my inner artist to atrophy. She’d not only been closed up in a prison, but I had choked off the only outlet that my inner artist had! This is supposed to be playtime. It’s supposed to feel like I’m pouring my heart and its energy into the page. It’s supposed to feel effortless, and it’s supposed to feel like I won’t live unless I write.
I remember feeling like this when I was much younger and much more prolific.
More info on Artist in Recovery is to come
Pretty soon I’ll post some more about this collection, including:
- snippets from the collection. (You can see some of them over on my Instagram channel, which is the main place I’m putting them at present.)
- artwork once we’ve got a cover in place that everyone is happy with (and cross your fingers that the cover I desperately want in place is agreed to!)
- some of the thinking behind each of the pieces, and the collection as a whole.