I find comfort in going through my old sketchbooks, though often, as with this one, I can remember where was but not what the words, or as in this case, the list refers to. Where did I read about Winifred Nicholson and her belief that ‘artists accepted the discomfort of poverty out of a desire to live differently’ for instance? It too is a comforting thought. Find your heroes a medium told me years and years ago, meaning find people who are like you, who live like you, it will comfort. I keep thinking of James Joyce with his second-hand coat, failing eyesight and other deprivations he went through for his writing. Ah, but he believed in his talent. Doesn’t that make all the difference? I keep finding little sparks of something – a residency, a writing residency. Just up your street, he says. Yeh, I reply, but they want people who are living in London. Let it go. You already have much ahead of you this year. Wait. It will come. Where is my belonging?

My research begins to take root invading my dreams. Mothers in seventeen-century France literally throwing away their babies. Motherhood is a social construct, claims the author, and only fed by a society that sees its worth. I long to fall into it, to let it swallow me up. There is so much to find there. I think this is important, and yet I want to run from it too and find something impersonal, ordered, regimented, straight-lined to do instead. But it hounds me. Over and over. It must be written. Be steady.

She has it easy, a friend had said of her. Maybe so but I like to be around her. I like the ease of her, the soft meringue-like aura around her. She does have troubles, has had, who hasn’t, but she chooses not to dwell, manages, holds it all together. There is such a peace to her. I hope we can meet. Speaking to her on the phone was nice. Can I own that I need more women like that in my life? I need the care. Truly.

I was shaking with the shock of it for over two hours. Alone, on the floor. Two women’s voices came through, hers and my sister’s. Comfortable women, with a strong sense of self, home-owners, beautiful, feminine – I yearned to have them near. I cannot make such things for myself. Never have done and can see it happening now. What do I have to offer them?

I wrote about streetlights in the forest. Was I still in Norway then? I remember the lights, such a comfort in the dark.

A letter in the post. You’ve won, it reads. And I have £25. That’s nice. That is a shining thing. Some days are….

If I make myself lighter might I just blow away?

By Ellen Bell

Artist and writer currently living in Aberystwyth.