My back is rigid from the battle I’ve been doing with myself all morning. Well, since 1.45 am when I woke. I have no path to follow, it is entirely of my own making and that should be a freedom and yet all I do is harangue myself for the choices I make.

We’d talked, he and I, and he’d suggested that I look through my plan chest drawers of begun projects and see what I could find. I told him of my yearning to make ‘something beautiful’. Anyway I did, in between going back and forth to work. And I did find some cheer in it. There is much work there, and endeavour but each needs time to be completed, and more importantly faith. I need to believe in what I do. As I need to believe in myself. It is a pattern. I finish an intense piece of work, usually some writing, and then I panic. How to fill the gap? What should I be doing? And then my mind is off, shouting, declaiming, digging in.

I want to keep open. I want to accept what is but also keep open. There are many different strands to my practice. It may not always have been the case, though I remember even when I was deep in the production line I still hankered after more conceptual projects. And actively sought them. Perhaps the kindest, calmest thing to do is accept that that is who I am. I need to do lots of different things. Though each, in my fastidious way, needs to be done equally well. I need to write, I need to design bigger projects to get me out of the house, my head and my comfort zone (they are rich things, though scary to me) and I need to make, to be involved in something that evolves, grows, uses my hands and allows my mind free-rein. To do just one of these things won’t suffice. I’ve tried but it won’t. And yet, they are all work, all have creative significance, even if they don’t, as in most cases, have much currency in the outside world. My reasons for work are manifold. It’s as needful to me as breathing. And yet, I am wobbly, am still wobbled by a path that is no longer clear.

He rings up after reading yesterday’s piece to tell me of spelling mistakes. I snap a little. Once a teacher always a teacher. He is trying to help. But it isn’t always welcome. I should ring back and apologise. I will.

My laptop is failing still. The part has yet to arrive. Meanwhile I write this at an angle, else the screen goes like fizzing mist. I give in. Other work time.

And I forgot to tell you of them. The alphabets I found. Cross stitch designs from the 1900s, German I think, of alphabets. And I can download them for free. Marvellous. They are so beautiful. I want to make them. Why or for what, as yet I cannot say but the joy I felt at finding them was so strong I have to act on it. And yet, my tension comes from the uncertainty of it. Can I allow myself this seeming indulgence? I just want to try. To see what comes from it. I’ve begun drawing them out. I’m terrible at following patterns. It is a discipline. I want it, I need it. Let me.

By Ellen Bell

Artist and writer currently living in Aberystwyth.