I described it as feeling like metal. And yet, in reality it is more like a hard shell, a carapace. It curves around the back of my body. It has protected you, she said. Give it time. It needs time to let you go. Let me go. Yet I get so disappointed when it returns, taking hold as it has done this morning. Can I help? he asks. Do you want to talk about it? Do I? Indeed, can I? When I try to articulate it it comes out so clumsily. What is it about? I lie in bed at night, though it is still day, and think about this. How does it feel to be nothing? It this just about the ego? This fight, this battle, is it just my ego trying to live, to reassert it’s dominance over me? How is it to be nothing? And what do I mean by nothing? I suppose it is to do with no longer being acknowledged, noticed. Ah, this sounds ridiculous. Let’s get to the nub.

It’s about work. It has to be. I get days like this when I do not know what I am doing, where I am going with it. I work inwardly. At least that is my impulse, I work to understand, to make sense of what I am, who I am, why I am here. And by work I mean both my writing and my making. Neither of them bring me an income, well not much anyway. This fact alone, if I use the paradigms I have been raised under, questions their worthiness to call them work. Work equals money where I come from. All of it is been thrown up in the air, my work doesn’t pay, isn’t made for the outside world’s approval, so what is it? And if I don’t know what my work is, then who am I? My work is me and I am my work. No?

In one of my dreams last night I was in a large dormitory with lots of people. There wasn’t much space. Outside the door was a pile of stuff, my stuff, with my name written on labels tied to them. I was to take them upstairs, that much I understood though why or where, I don’t know. Further inside the dorm were some working areas and open plan kitchens. I could see my aprons, I had three hanging up. And 3 identical cutting boards. I need to get rid of some of those, I thought, or find somewhere to put them. It was about stuff, clearing out, making room and dealing with all those other people. Upstairs was clearer, less cluttered, I knew this.

A metaphor, clearly. I wanted to organise my stuff, clear things out, make space in my head. It’s what I am doing know. The desire to sort out my studio is over whelming. To clean, to make order, to find out what this work is about.

Do I really want to pursue this idea that he was so hard on? I don’t know. Do I want to expose myself to public scrutiny again? All that pursuing. Perhaps this week I will sit back, wait and do nothing. Nothing but sew. And write. That is enough.

I can’t go out on Saturday, a youth was shouting outside the Why Not? club. I can’t go out on Saturday, I CAN’T go out.

And then I remember a couple by the Prom yesterday morning. I’d watched them walk to the railing, she sat on the floor at his feet and lit a cigarette. All of a sudden he was shouting, his head leaning over hers: DO YOU UNDERSTAND! DO YOU UNDERSTAND! She made no response, just carried on smoking.

By Ellen Bell

Artist and writer currently living in Aberystwyth.