By ‘it’, I refer not to my ongoing bad habit of over-using exclamation marks (!!!) but rather to my equally serious, rather more long-standing habit of saying I will do things and then misplacing my motivation.
In this instance, I refer to my declaration, way back in October of last year, that I was going to update this blog regularly with writings and ramblings and ruminations. Yeah. That didn’t exactly happen.
In my defence, this has been a busy year. Also, I think only one person actually follows this blog, so it’s not as if I have an eager denizen of readers weeping into their soy lattes at the lack of updates. But still; I made a commitment and didn’t stick to it, and for that I apologise into the void.
Had you spoken to me ten or so years ago, when I first started writing ‘in earnest’, I’d never have imagined that I would one day struggle to write. There was a time, a very long time, in fact, when writing was just about the only thing that I could do with any consistency. When I was extremely unhappy, the only outlet I had, in the absence of a vocal voice, was words on a page (I should mention here that I had big issues with depression and bulimia in my teens, as well as a smattering of elective mutism). And so I wrote like mad, I wrote when I was mad, I wrote because I had no idea how else to deal with the mess that was me. I wrote because the only time – and this is still true – that I felt like I knew all of the steps and nuances and lyrics of myself, was when I was putting down words on a page and letting their colours mix (have I mentioned that I have synesthesia?)*
Long story short, I wrote more than I spoke and consequently I got good at it, because I had to.
That, I suspect, is where the problem lies: it’s a lot harder to do difficult things when it’s no longer a matter of survival. Because writing is hard. An author whom I like, Helen Oyeyemi, once said of writing:
It’s as if every day you have to put a worm or something really wriggly on you, and let it crawl all over you, and then at the end of the day, you can take it off. It’s weird. It’s self- torture.”
When I first read this interview I was seventeen, and frankly thought she was being a tad melodramatic; the woman did write an entire book about a house that eats people, after all. Now, though, at the grand old age of 23, I really do see what she means. It’s that same feeling of discomfort, like holding a flame to your finger and seeing how long you can bear it, or spraying aerosol onto your skin, like boys used to do at school.
To employ a more relevant simile, it’s like sitting down in a room with a box of all of your issues and letting them out to play. It makes sense, I suppose, that back when all of my problems were right at the forefront of my life, expressing them through writing was a completely organic, necessary process. Now that they’re smaller and quieter and I’m bigger and louder, bringing them to the page is harder. They want to stay where they are. They want to sleep.
For the past five years or so, as I slowly recovered, so my writing slowly changed. It became less obsessive and it became less real. Once my notebook and hard-drive had been chock-full of poems; now I tended more towards prose, a craft that is a lot easier to hide untruths in. Once I wrote about my past; now I was drawn towards fairytales, fable, myths. At the time I just went with it, and I don’t regret doing so: it was good for me, it was a process of healing, for me to let go of angry spillages about playgrounds and school corridors and IV drips in bird-boned arms. I wrote instead about gentler things, and there was still darkness, but the darkness was grounded in a different place, was born of spells and swords, not words, not jibes.
I wrote like this for a long time, and it helped. It was, I think, my mind’s way of purging the poison without forcing me to re-live it. It’s a lot easier to write about persecution, for example, when it’s aimed towards a life-sized automaton and not a little flesh-foddered human.
But I think I’m done with that now. I think it’s time to get real. Or real-ish, anyway. The project I’m working on currently has been hiding in my head since I was sixteen.
I think it’s time to let it out of the closet.**
*This is entirely unrelated, but wouldn’t Synesthesia make such a good name for a character? OR TWINS! Synes and Thesia! I have possibly had too much coffee. I should definitely never have children. God help their hypothetical souls.
**You have no idea how hard it was to resist an ellipses here. NO idea…***