Writing from the Hebrides - Lucy Martin
Welcome to the Creative Life, Happier Life Blog, thank you for agreeing to this interview! Tell us about yourself...
I live in the remote Scottish Hebrides with my husband and three children, four and under. Aged 21 I had gained a place to study Fine art in central London. Painting landscapes and the human form was a passion. A few months before I was due to go I found myself expecting my first child. Nine months later I lovingly cradled a baby girl in my arms content that life had taken a different turn from the harsh capital to the softness of a baby.Six months later post-natal depression hit and three months after that I was expecting my second. That time was hard and dark. The memories are painful and I don’t have any photographs that remind me of a happy time. I had a yearning to get out, and yet what I wanted to get out of I didn't quite know. Four days after our son arrived and refusing to leave the bedroom in which he’d been born, my husband half heartedly told me he’d been offered a job in the Hebrides. I didn't know what the Hebrides was, where it was or what it was like, but I was going. My husband knowing I rarely left the front door, nearly fell off his chair. It was like a big shiny ticket. Twelve weeks later with two cats, two babies and a van full of stuff we drove cross country to get a ferry to start a new life on a foreign island. I packed my depression with me. You would think that going to the Hebrides would be a perfect invitation to begin my landscape painting, and maybe that’s where you think this is going, but God had different ideas as he usually does. Instead I began to write. Which baffled me even more than the inability to paint. As a child I was delayed in regards to reading and writing due to dyslexia on the more severe side of the scale so writing was not the obvious choice for me. I suppose it would've been much simpler for God to have put me on the painting path once more but I doubt it would have connected me to so many people and most importantly to him. Eventually I wrote myself out of depression. I’m now 27 and you can call me Lucy, but my kids call me ‘MUM!!’
Here at CLHL we believe that creativity comes in all forms, from accounting to crochet! How does your creativity manifest itself?
I write essays/prose like accounts of how I see and interpret living in the Scottish Hebrides. What it's like to live here full time and what it's like to live away from the hustle and bustle of mainland living. The opposite end of the spectrum to my London dreaming! Alongside this I take photographs so people can visually see the world I am experiencing and interpreting. Like virtually being here with me!
How do you think using your creativity enhances your well-being?
Writing enables me to process and digest the world around me and the many changes we have had to undergo as a family in such a short space of time. Since an early age I have identified with being on the autistic spectrum and the world around me frequently feels too bright, too loud, too noisy, too busy - all at the same time! I see, feel and hear everything times 100. Everything is magnified and I think this is really evident in my written word as the tiniest details that frequently go unnoticed are zoomed in on in my mind’s eye. I love extremes. The extremes of nature. The extreme of tiny details in comparison to the huge big picture we all live in. I’m not really interested in the greyness of the middle. Which is ironic because in Scotland a lot of the days are ‘the grey middle’. In a foreign land with a differing culture and language, writing gave me a way in which to express and tunnel my emotions into something tangible and proactive. At a time when my emotional state was so far beyond me and my control, writing enabled me to catch the wind and sail strong against the current.
How do you think using your craft helps you to connect with God?
How does writing help me connect with God? Painfully! Is the honest answer! It shows me all my failings and downfalls. Shows me how insignificant and ordinary I really am in the huge expanse of his plan! Teaching me letter by letter to come bow my head and kneel at his feet.
Where I so badly need to be. It shows me how desperately I need him. It wasn’t until I was living in the remoteness of the Outer Hebrides, where on a day in day out basis I was isolated that I found and came to Christ fully. It was in extreme loneliness that I found the sheer joy of him.
What an amazing artist he is from the tiny iridescent scales of copious mackerel to the majestic powerful waves of the Atlantic. No detail is too small for him to tentatively care for - including me. It’s through the weaving of these tiny details in ordinary life that I connect and feel him the most. We so often forget that God worked through the most ordinary of people. From Ruth to David. Writing enables me to connect the dots of the details and pass them on to others. I find it interesting that it is both isolation and detail that first connected me to him and carries on doing so. In order for something to be a detail it must in its own way be isolated from the mass. You could say I found him in the lonely details.
Do you think God works through your skill? How?
I think he worked the skill through me. A bit like a weaving on a loom. Or and maybe more appropriately a rag rug! Little by little I have seen the threads weave and connect, painfully most of the time. The writing holds it all together like stitching. He put me in the path of individuals to read and connect the written word and the landscape with. A lot of my readers are in the USA. Many of whom have ancestral connections to the Hebrides
and yet may never get to experience it. The way I write is highly personal and emotional. You are in my head and therefore I, in yours. That's quite a powerful tool and it's one I don't take lightly. I want the people reading far off around the globe to feel like they are here.
With that in mind, what can I breath into the minds of people who are reading? What do we all need to do in this world of vast and fast technological advancement in order to really feel something and be present. Well I would say stop and be still. ‘Be still and know that I am god’. That is what I help people do, be still, and in turn God grants me with a stillness the world around me cannot. The fact I have taught myself to express life and emotion through the written word is to me one of God’s greatest Miracles.
Do you have any tips or golden nuggets of wisdom for any of our readers who may like to try accessing your creative skill?
I do often think about this question, because frequently I have seen advice that says something like ‘Grab yourself a pen and paper for when inspiration hits so you can quickly take a note!’. But what if inspiration doesn’t hit? What if you don’t like pen and paper but actually want to write it all on your phone. What if and this is the biggy, you really are terrible at it! And yet something within you keeps tugging you to do it. With this in mind my advice would be the same as if I was encouraging a child to read, a baby to crawl, an adult to swim or a teen to ride a bike. Just do a little. For a little is enough when you do it everyday. Exercise the muscle and it will grow. Even if you can’t do the dance to begin with. My written word at the beginning was very very basic. I remember it took me hours to upload photographs I had taken into the format needed to match the text. Hours. Basic is an excellent base though, you can always return to basic. The phrase ‘string a sentence together’ is really how I do it. I just string them all together. My overall advice would be write a sentence, and then write another one, and put them together. If you feel it has the hands of God on it, place your hands there also.
Where can we find you using your creativity?
Instagram - @islandwifehebrides
Facebook @islandwife or search Island Wife Hebrides
QUICK FIRE ROUND! The stuff we all really want to know!
Pen or computer? Computer
Home or abroad? Home. It's my ministry .
On your bucket list? My daily existence is maintained by lists. Strangely I do not have a bucket list, nor do I want one. This contradiction sums me up quite well. Who would play you in a movie? Julie Walters. Skill you’d like to learn? Piano - next year’s task. Favourite bible verse? “God hath chosen the weak things - I can do all things through Christ who strengtheneth me” (1 Corinthians 1:27; Philippians 4:13) Is on repeat daily. Chocolate or cheese? Hungry? Cheese. Not hungry? Cheese.
Thank you Lucy! So there you go, perhaps writing may be a new way for you to explore creativity? If you try out any of our contributors skills, pop it on Instagram (@creativelifehappierlifeblog) and give it the hashtag #CLHLblog