Following My Heart’s Desire

img_3702I published this post in October 2014, back in the early days of my blog. I came across it the other day and realised that it still rang true. So I thought I’d share it again.

As I walked home from school after dropping my daughter off the other morning, I pondered, as I usually do, the latest plot twists in the book I’m writing. Then it struck me that this is what I do now. I thought back to a couple of years ago, before I started writing about Ambeth and all the other stories coming through me and was amazed by how my life has changed.

‘Will I always be like this?’ I thought to myself. ‘Is this it now, or will I look back in a few years time, shaking my head at how obsessed I was, how writing was a compulsion, a daily requirement?’

You know what, I really do think this is it. After forty something years of life, three different continents and a myriad of jobs ranging from martial arts instructor to waitress to casting co-ordinator and photography producer, I think I’ve finally found my groove. My place to stay, my happiness, as they say. Sure, I’ve been writing all my life, just like my bio says, and for the last eleven years or so have been writing for other people. But this is different. This is writing for myself, tapping into the muse and weaving stories to life, words shining silver in the slippery darkness of the pond, fossils emerging from the forest floor. It is discovery and catharsis and creation and desire all rolled into one, a wonderful compulsion to put words on the page, to bring characters to life and tell their stories as they come through me.

So lucky me. I will say this, I have never given up the search for my heart’s desire. Through jobs I’ve hated and tolerated and thought perhaps I liked, through moves across town and state and country lines, I’ve always needed some sort of creative outlet. For a long time it was painting – I’ve sold a few, been exhibited once (just a small show) and several pieces adorn the walls of my own home. There is a peace and joy in painting once I get into the mood, music and brushstrokes a form of meditation. But it is nothing like the fire and excitement I get from writing, the pictures in my mind coming on to the page so much more easily than they did onto the canvas. There are times when I laugh a little and sigh, that my passion is not for some sort of fiendish financial calculation whereby I can make a fortune, but I am rich in so many other ways. Writing has conferred upon me a freedom, a confidence to be myself and express my thoughts, a confidence that grows and brings me back to the true self I came so close to losing some time ago. There is more value in that than in anything else I can think of, for it allows me to love and be free, to care for those around me and appreciate small wonders in the world, seeing them for the story they tell.

I love writing and, even though there are rejections and frustrations to suffer, none of them do anything to change that fact. So I thought I would write a post on how I feel about writing, letting my fingers flow. And so they have, reminding me of why it is that I write now, and why it is that will always be so, as long as I have ideas to dream of.

If you enjoyed this post and want to read more, you can find me on Twitter @AuthorHelenJ,  Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest. Plus my latest book release, A Thousand Rooms, is now available on Amazon.

A Gift

It’s no secret that I like to write. These days, it’s my main creative outlet and likely to remain so, as I explore my ‘voice’ on paper.

I do, however, have other creative interests. Both my grandmother and grandfather were talented amateur artists, and I can remember sitting in the Sunday School room with my grandmother before class started, watching her draw an illustration for the lesson on the big blackboard, amazed by how she would use the limited palette of chalks to create a world of colour. Later, in the quiet warm space between Sunday lunch and high tea, she and I would sometimes sit in the big living room at the Vicarage, tick of clock on the mantel as she would draw something and then get me to copy it, my small hand struggling to repeat the lines that came so easily from her pencil.

Several years after my grandfather passed away, she gave me a tin containing the drawing pencils he was using on his last work, a keen painter up until his untimely death. We have some of his work framed, stone cottages on a jetty under a lowering sky, a canal boat dappled with light and shade, and of course his beloved church, snowbound. I’ve never used the pencils but keep them as a talisman of sorts, a small piece of memory.

I painted for many years, even pursuing a degree in the creative arts, sure my artistic calling lay down that path. But the twists and turns of employment and life meant I ended up working in advertising instead, swapping the joys of painting and drawing for producing and casting – still creative in its own way, but not quite as fulfilling. Painting was reserved for my downtime and, while I did produce some work that made me happy, I never had the time to pursue it as I wished.

I haven’t done much painting since moving back to the UK, simply because I was concentrating on my writing instead, capturing the world of Ambeth as it poured out onto the page. However, I recently picked up my brushes again to create a painting for my husband on his birthday. And here it is, just for fun (don’t worry, I’ve already given it to him):


What about you? Do you have any other creative strings to your bow?

Oh and yay! This is my 100th blog post – can’t believe it really 🙂 Thanks to everyone for reading along.