The Itch That Must Be Scratched

Alex Craggs
The creative itch can only be scratched...

Sometimes life takes aim and craps on you...

In September 2012, my wife told me she no longer loved me. I saw it coming, but it was painful to hear, and it changed everything. At the time, Creative Me was going well, there was publishing interest in a story I was writing about a caveboy, my humorous poems were regularly being pumped into to good reviews, my illustrations were better executed and I’d added canvas painting to my creative repertoire. Although pre-published, I felt close to getting noticed, when my personal upheaval slammed the brakes on. 

At first I lived in a state of denial, I hung around my home in the hope I could fix things, but the more time passed, the more I accepted that we would be happier apart. Those bits of my life that involved my sons, I remained fully committed to. Like me, they’re sport mad, and for years most weekends have been devoted to their rugby and football. I coach both sports, it takes a huge amount of time, but in a situation where their world was changing too, I wanted to keep as much of it the same as possible. 

Time is something I have always been short of, but last year it pretty much disappeared. As well as my boys’ sport, I trained for a huge charity cycle ride, plus I had to attend to all the things to do with the restructure of my life. There were the mediation visits, divorce paperwork, the desire to form a constructive rather than destructive relationship with my ex, the house sale, two house purchases, the division of everything we owned and the big moves. Once I moved out, I was busier with housework, cooking and gardening – those jobs we used to share I was now doing on my own. I also made time for dating, for years that feeling of partnership had gone, I longed for someone’s arms around me. Creative Me got pushed out. 

It wasn’t just the time issue though. I didn’t feel creative. Despite being halfway through writing a novel when she met me, my ex never really supported my creative interests and identified the time it took, as time not invested in our marriage. Creative Me was being blamed for our problems. While figuring everything out, I wrote just enough to keep a place in my critique group, but nothing else. After five consecutive Winchester conferences, I missed one. I wasn’t writing. I wasn’t drawing. I wasn’t painting. I wasn’t feeling it. Much of what I create relies on my harebrained sense of humour, but life had become too serious, I’d lost my funny bones.

Creative Me was still there though, jumping up and down, doing cartwheels, blowing raspberries, pulling moonies, flapping his arms and trying to get my attention. I believe a lot of creative people feel this in times of artistic paralysis, the urge to keep creating even when the inspiration is lacking. Before the break up, I had spent thousands of hours creating, but not because I am desperately trying to be the next published big thing (I would love to be published, but concluded long ago that publication does not define my worth as an artist). The reason I create is that something deep inside my being tells me... 


There are no potions or creams offering instant relief to my creative itch. That overriding need for the creative hit is nestled deep within my DNA. The periods in my life where I ignored the urges have never been permanent, because the creative itch can only be scratched, and I am once again scratching mine. My peculiar and slightly naughty spectacles are back on, my words are playing, and I’m seeing the world in my own weirdly humorous way. I’m not as prolific as I used to be (that will come), but my caveboy has climbed out of the drawer and back onto my keyboard for more edits. I also have an enormous and complex canvas on the go in my living room with a looming summer deadline. 

Whisper it quietly, but Spring is springing and I’m springing too. 
Creative Me is back! 
And I’ve missed me.

Alex Craggs lives in a small village in Berkshire. He describes himself as a creative free spirit, injecting a quirky sense of humour into poems, and in texts from picture books to YA. Alex also paints and illustrates, with one line (Squiggle) or with a cartoon style.

For more information about Alex, and other examples of his work please try: 


  1. Glad to hear the Creative Alex is back! We missed you at the conference this year. Things happen in life that change us but not innately--we are who we are and always come back to who we are eventually.

    1. Thanks Rebecca, life would be boring if it didn't have the rough to go with the smooth...

  2. This is such a beautiful and inspiring piece. Thank you for sharing your journey with us. We're so dang glad that Creative Me is back. And back to stay! Truly awesome post. Thank you.

  3. Thank you Louise, l think my journey echoes many others, full of ups and downs. The essence of what we are remains the same though, sometimes we need time to rediscover it.

  4. Alex, apologies for arriving so late to this - your words made me sit up and take notice. Thank you for sharing your energy and spirit. Spring is most assuredly in the air - I look very much forward to reading all about that caveboy...

  5. Thank you Nancy, although it didn't feel too springlike coaching small boy sport this weekend - needed the extra layer!

  6. Hey, Alex - glad to hear you're back on the horse (or is it a mammoth?) Onward!


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