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  • Writer's pictureMonique Sliedrecht

Pilot Light

The day is misty here in Freswick Bay. In the meantime, I've been told that the rest of the UK is basking in sunshine! I could drive out into the sun today to escape the heavy fog, but I only just got back from Orkney and need some down time before a busy week. Chances are the sun will shine again and the 'haar' will have moved elsewhere or it will burn away. That is what I am hoping!

I’ve been reflecting on last weekend's trip to the islands. It felt a bit like a holiday. Any time spent on a ferry and travelling across a stretch of water feels like a holiday to me! I don’t get out much these days. :)

One of the main purposes of the trip was to pick up my paintings from the gallery where I exhibited last month. Some of you have asked how the exhibition went. I can say that it was good overall, though the smaller, detailed pieces were more difficult for people to see properly through the glass. I've put that down to experience, and will handle it differently next time. That aside, it was a great opportunity to display my work during this time of lockdown and a gentle way of easing back into things.

After making my stop at the gallery, my friend and I met with a couple of local friends from Stromness. We sat outside for a cup of tea. We managed to catch a ray of late afternoon sun which beamed into our open-air tent, enhancing our time together, and adding to the warmth of the occasion. It was lovely to share stories of how we each ended up in the north.

Eventually our conversation moved towards writing. I was surprised to find out that all of us wrote in one capacity or another. While I would not claim to be a 'writer' like the others are, I do write, and through that practice I discover new things, about myself and the world around me. It is a way of processing and digesting and has helped bring focus in my days and structure to my weeks. It enables me to feel a little more grounded when the world seems to be in such upheaval.

Writing as an art form, whether through poems, novels, plays or other, is a step further into a creative place which can sometimes prove elusive. The ability to 'find the right words' to describe something is no easy task. As with any style of creativity, it involves constant decision making, and often requires our full attention. Sometimes the space of thought can be filled with the fog of a busy life, overtaken by other commitments which come swirling in, and the creative work gets sidelined or even stifled.

My friend mentioned the pilot light, always glowing at the base of a traditional gas boiler. The flame is always there, however small and unseen, ready to burst into full power when the heat is turned on. Sometimes we have long periods when we feel detached from creativity and even lose confidence. But the pilot light of our creative spirit never goes out. Journaling, making mental notes and observations, or just resting and relating to the writings of another author, keeps the flame flickering while other parts of life are occurring and requiring our immediate attention. One day that inner light may spark and create a blazing fire. One day we might be able to create the conditions that enable the words to flow and light to grow.



by Wendell Berry

To go in the dark with a light is to know the light.

To know the dark, go dark. Go without sight,

and find that the dark, too, blooms and sings,

and is traveled by dark feet and dark wings.

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