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New Beginnings: Lessons Learnt

Welcome to a new year and a new issue. One of the themes of this month's issue is New beginnings.

As Laura, covered in the last issue, the New Year 2020 was one of great excitement as a new decade approached and the excitement of change was in the air.

If only we had known that change was indeed in the air but not in the way we anticipated. A global crisis would begin.

Time and experience took on a new meaning. It was illuminating to realise how many things operated through social and business contact. It was surprising to discover how far we had come technologically that we could find many ways to ensure communication and social engagement continued.

Change and adaptation made up most of my 2020. I found I was in a cycle of new experiences and recycled skills. The adventure of becoming a poet was one of those life changes that encompassed both spheres. Prior to February 2020, I had put away my pen for a few years after a run of writing/adapting theatre shows. I genuinely believed that I had run out of concepts to discuss in the language of theatre and did not yet feel ready to redevelop a few pieces that sat unfinished.

In the quiet of lockdowns and inability to easily visit London for inspiration, I started writing shorter poetic pieces instead. It led to meeting Kassie and Mel, and a whole host of excellent poets. In a moment where patience and conserving energy was necessary, art returned. It was one of the first positive lessons of the year.

Try to be open to opportunities to practise your craft without over perfection. Just be present doing what you love.

I think that may be a hidden secret to new beginnings that often goes overlooked. Moving into a new year, decade or epoch it often feels like we need to wipe the slate clean of the previous year, lessons, projects and experiences, forcing ourselves to put all our history behind us. I had thought that I had to leave art behind me as it was something, I didn't have time for anymore. Life's greatest joke is that we never know what is ahead of us. Time became available, practically daring anyone to utilise it. It challenged many of us in times of silence to reach out in media and materials to speak about what and who we were missing in this time.

So, it may seem that a person must strive for productivity above all things when time is abundant. I have seen numerous discussions online about the hidden pressure to appear productive in fear of losing time or sense of purpose.

The old adage that necessity is the mother of invention became another lesson of this year. In spite of the feeling that time had little purpose or a general feeling of ennui for favourite activities missed, the global community was very innovative in 2020. By being responsive to the challenges of Covid19; new systems, technologies and inventions were created.

Looking at the world and paying attention to the news cycle gave many opportunities to be socially engaged. Artistic responses to Black Lives Matter, endless lockdowns and confusing policies became fertile ground for new creative opportunities. There were writing competitions, special features and collaborative works built around connecting to issues that the new world of 2020.

It seems that this is the best approach to new beginnings. To look at what has been happening around us and find our personal contribution to it. I have two examples of this concept from 2020 to conclude this introduction.

The first is that responsiveness to the opportunities and experiences around us in 2020 can come from play as much as from difficult circumstances.

My favourite example of this was a community of TikTok users who happen to be theatrical obsessives. While bored at home and unable to work in an industry they were deeply passionate about they found togetherness through a simple idea.

One user who loved the film Ratatouille provided a concept for a musical adaptation. The bare bones of an idea for a song and maybe some staging. From this concept, artists from across the industry flooded in with their expertise, sharing their knowledge and talent for costume design; lighting, directing, song-writing and choreography to build on a fantasy show. The community around this concept built upon each other's ideas and building each other up.

I have seen this sense of creative kinship paralleled in the poetic community. Video performances, newer forms of poetic presentation and a spirit of sharing material and feedback has become de rigour. Performance groups and training geared towards new poets have amassed over this last year. It seems that the lyricism has been able to fill a gap that older communicative methods have left behind.

Leading to my second example. The very magazine you are reading.

Our two founders created this magazine in September last year. They took time to cultivate it into a regular community of contributors and an inviting space for new artists. Utilising their talents for editing, writing and storytelling Kassie and Mel also released anthologies in 2020 building on their own experiences of the year and previous adventures. They took inspiration from their experiences of the year to fashion art and open the experience to others. Both of these stories are a lesson in utilising what you know and what you've known to create a platform for a community.

As we move into our next stages with this decade there is much to celebrated in how we have approached the circumstances in which we have found ourselves. To ensure we stay resilient and prepared for the next challenges I think we are best to keep writing, responding and learning from each other. We are beginning a brand-new year; this is opportunity to combine lessons learnt from the past with new energy and renewed spirit.

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