Victoria Beesley: William Grant Foundation Open Call Residency

I’m five months pregnant.

I’m sitting in my car in a layby on the A9.

There’s steam coming from the engine.

It’s raining.

Every time another vehicle drives past my car shakes.

I’m waiting for the AA.

This is not how I imagined my week in the wilderness beginning.



The fire is burning.

My dinner is warm.

The compost toilet has been christened.

It’s still here. Quiet. Only the birds to listen to.

Feelings of anxiety at being remote, alone, have subsided.

I’m relieved. Happy.

I’m here.



Aside from the obvious (food, water, shelter, warmth), what are my personal essentials for solitary happiness?

  • Slippers
  • A radio
  • Loo roll
  • Soap
  • Medicine
  • Occasional phone signal for contact with my family
  • An activity: books, crossword, knitting, fetching water, building a fire
  • Kindling (I have learnt that I am not adept with an axe).



Writing in the bothy.

Trying to work a sticky, complex, big idea out of my brain and onto the page.

Like I’m chipping away with a pick axe.

Tap. Tap. Tap.

Where is the drama? Where is the drama? Where is the drama?

Blank page in front of me. Its blankness growing by the hour. How can that be possible?

(We’ve already established I’m not very good with an axe, even if it’s metaphorical).


Take a break. A walk. Get wet in the rain.

The more time I spend here, the more nature sneaks its way into my psyche.

I haven’t seen anyone for four days. It’s just me and trees, wind, birds, the river, bugs, rain. There’s a feeling of being at the mercy of nature more here. Like it could take over me if I stayed long enough. Nature in my everyday life is so controlled, so distant in my mind even when it’s physically near. Here, my only immediate relationship is with nature and I feel simultaneously empowered by it and terrified of it!

And this brings a new idea.

Back sitting in the bothy. Words filling the page. I’m excited. Happy. Relieved.

Nature is driving me on. Sneaking its way onto the page. Becoming a character. Providing the drama. I like this.

The words streaming out of me now. They’re queuing up to be written down. I’m having a lovely time!



All too soon…

I’m sitting in the car. It’s fixed (I hope). I’m about to drive home.

Will I make it home without breaking down?

Will I preserve the peace, tranquillity, space of the bothy… If only in my mind?

Will I miss showering outside?

Will the ideas forged here keep growing? Will the pages keep getting g fuller?

I hope so.

Wish me luck.