He told me once of a girl he encountered way way back who’d told his friends at the time (he’d probably not turned up or was late) that he was probably ‘pruning himself in front of the mirror’. It tickled him then and still does. My love has the gift of not taking himself too seriously, and of infinite self-knowledge and therefore is fully aware of his propensity for vanity. I pruned him yesterday, outside on the tip, the dump or for the moment ‘our garden’. I cut his hair. He’d bought a pair of hairdressing scissors and a pair of thinning cutters. Just now I’ve also shaved his neck of all those rogue loose wandering hairs. He looks better for it. Neater, tidier and smarter. He seems pleased with my attempt.

Another warm night. My hips ache. I thought it was muscle fatigue from walking up hills or striding too purposively. But on second thoughts I think it is more likely a reaction to something my body is trying to oust. A bug, a mystery virus, a bad tummy call it what you will, something is fighting something off. I shall be stoic. There is no point in fasting if one is going to throw it all up and take painkillers. And pain has its own gift. So I sit with hot water bottles and herb tea, and try to distract myself instead.

My work frightens me. I am in fear of the empty page. But if I sit with it, give it my time and my attention something always comes through. It is inevitable. It is the reward of that attention and of my intention which is always to do the best I can, to honour those of whom I write and tell the truth as I know it, now. Yes, there is lots I do not know. I do not profess to genius, or skill, I’m a work-a-day writer who tries to throw off artifice and respond authentically to what is before her. That is all. I make no claims. The fear is mastered by my sitting with it. And my work is precious to me, not only as a means, however small of earning money but as a way of creating that stilling, that focussing on something, someone other than myself. It is a gift. Nevertheless be with me when I write. Please.

By Ellen Bell

Artist and writer currently living in Aberystwyth.