Creative Chat ‘n’ Blog – Belona Greenwood

Writer Bel Greenwood reflects on her podcast chat with interviewer David Johnson and poet Leanne Moden. As part of a podcast series of 8 regional artists discussing the challenges that they have faced during Lockdown and what they have learnt as a result.

June 2021

Listen to Bel’s podcast episode here.

The Challenge

It was a shock. I lost all my arts in education work and income overnight.  At first, I pretty much panicked in that I applied for any work, anywhere with a sense of dread that I would end up having to leave behind a creative life I had spent so many years trying to put together. At the same time, suddenly there was a space which I couldn’t negotiate productively.  I would have loved to have used the time that opened up before me creatively, but I was too anxious about money.  And then I benefitted from an emergency grant from the Arts Council. I was so grateful and promised to use my time well, even as I disinfected everything in sight, even as I limited going out to an early morning gallop with the dog, even as I stressed about my keyworker daughter exposed to the public.

Developing Ideas

Gradually, my heartbeat slowed, and I began to think and write again – in that gloriously beautiful weather in the first year. I sealed off the world and zoomed.  It has made me think of hybrid theatre forms and I have discovered the potential for intimacy, as well as theatre’s wider online reach, but still, a year on the yearning for the energy of live performance is very strong.

I count myself lucky. I was commissioned to write a play with funding put in place before the pandemic. It was a stop start experience for the theatre company – even as auditions, and script read throughs were held and rehearsals began, they were postponed, the project settling into a waiting time as theatres closed and new variants emerged and made being together impossible. I think we learnt patience this year. 

There are limitations to not being in the same room.  Part of my working life is spent in a writers’ room with two other scriptwriters where we develop television and radio drama.  It is a crucible where we hammer out a series, it is so much harder to interrupt each other passionately, the creative energy is missing in action. We adapt but it is not evolution. 

Belona Greenwood’s book The Flying Shop of Imagination, is full of inspiring ideas to get children writing and inventing.

Final Thoughts

It is a year since I have spent time in a school with real, 3D children.  Delivering an arts project to six-year-olds for a day in maverick weather this week was brilliant. A real return. But I cannot forget. We all carry a sorrow for the suffering of then and now.  I cannot but believe that as artists we are in a fragile peace, we live in uncertainty and with that there is a challenge. Out of chaos comes creation.

Written by Belona Greenwood.

Listen to Bel’s podcast episode here.

Read about Bel’s Writing the Landscape project here.