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Penny Pepper blogs her ups, downs and creative urges

 

There is a lot going on for me at the moment and I can hardly dare whisper that much of it seems positive. Not only is the novel ‘Fancy Nancy’ Out There now, at least being read by someone, but I managed to submit a radio play to the BBC and tie up several loose ends on several creative possibilities.

I'm immersed now in DadaFest preparations. There's the burlesque event, I am a roving poet and I am also in bed at the John and Yoko Bed-In celebration. I intend to do a piece called Bed Ridden - say each word slowly and precisely, it creates a whole new emphasis.

As the theme is world peace and non-violent action, I am intrigued to think about the powerful women who have spent time in bed through impairment of all kinds, creating alternative interpretations of action and change. I hope to make the piece entertaining and subversive while keeping to the remit.

I've also finished my creative response to the recent focus groups run by the Royal College of Physicians held at Shape. I became fascinated with the story of Sarah Hawkes, an 11 year old who experienced an injury that caused her body to bend into a painful twisted horseshoe shape by the age of 14.

A early 19th century doctor took up her case and straightened her out with physio and stretching... but history neither records her voice directly, or what tells us what happened to her post 'cure'. I've gone on a journey with this, seeing parallels to my own life at that age, and written The Imaginary Ballad of Sarah Hawkes which exists in both a folk song idiom, and a rap. I intend to discover more about Sarah and have longer term hopes to make a documentary about my efforts to give her the life outside of the medical profession which history has cruelly denied her.

Now I reckon I should pause for breath and fuss my cat who keeps sitting in front of the pc monitor. Is this a hyperactive phase? Will I be cautioned by my MH team - as I often am - to slooooow down? After all that's happened, that simply will not compute as I enjoy riding the wave.

 

Posted by Penny Pepper, 19 October 2010

Last modified by Colin Hambrook, 10 November 2010

Fancy Nancy, the novel, is finished!

Amid painful chaos and the world falling in I did a wonderful if tortuous thing. My thoughts still go through a cruel mangle and bits of me come out the other side in jagged fragments. A lot still hangs in a rather precarious balance – housing benefit issues, the benefit trap, lack of regular work, poor mental and physical health.

 

But then….? I don’t know whether it’s the meds – which were increased recently. I am less raw, but also less motivated and removed. I’m in the famous fog, slow in the anti-depressant dirge of non-emotion. At least the blunting of anxiety gives me a rest – you know, from simply feeling too much.

 

Maybe the task in hand needed that. My rational self had to push through, my humour had to kick me up the arse and say get this thing done girl!

 

The classic situation is that of having a novel I could not let go of. One therapist (a very nice one) suggested over some years I was frightened of success as much as failure. It was deep in me. What happens when you say ‘the novel is complete’ and you don’t have it there burning a weighty purpose into your being?

 

Well, the novel IS complete. It made it as a whole entity at 4am on Oct 10th 2010. Only a nine year journey of rewrites, of hiding in cupboards and on different PCs. ‘Fancy Nancy’ is ready to show her brazen face to the world whether it’s ready or not. I need an agent and a publisher – any ideas or pointers welcome! I will work on it, when motivation can be sustained.

 

Things felt different after this scary task. I’m hoping I can sustain it, because as the godly Leonard Cohen says in Anthem, ‘there is a crack in everything, that's how the light gets in.’ This completion filled me with light, and I’d been missing that.Terribly.

Posted by Penny Pepper, 11 October 2010

Last modified by Penny Pepper, 11 October 2010