I’ve been trying to write with competence since my teens, and a lot of my issues have centred around an inability to listen to criticism. Once my daughter was born and I had my issues with PND, it became apparent that obstinance and arrogance were not going to help me get better. I would have to open myself to the notion of change, like it or not. Not for myself, but for the kids I was expected to bring up not being narrow minded as I’d become. The first step towards the change was diary writing, or in my case Live Journal. LJ was the beginning of a journey that eventually granted me sufficient confidence to begin blogging, and from that I finally pushed myself into what became and abortive Open University course, beginning with Creative Writing.
I realised very quickly that formal study was not the answer I was looking for, and even a study group at the local Adult Education College made the process too rigid. However, what these two things managed to combine to do was crack my creative brain open, pushing me into the realisation that daily repetition actually improved my mood and ability. The revelation, at least for me, was when I was able to combine this routine with my desire to get fit, once and for all, after two children. It began simply enough: I’d walk around the block to drop my daughter off to school. One day, I just kept walking. I made a playlist on my phone to listen to, and used this to help me work on a piece of fiction (which became Duet, as it happens, you can read that here.)
I’ll talk more about my visualisation process in a separate post, but for now all that matters from this was that writing drove my feet, and eventually I would miss the longer walks when I couldn’t take them. As soon as this happened, I knew I’d made some progress. The understanding that the daily writing routine could produce physical as well as mental well-being was something of an epiphany, I must be honest. Most of this however hinged on the knowledge that I am lazy, I will easily allow myself to be distracted, and both of these together can be potentially catastrophic. Understanding how everything links together in my brain has helped a lot towards releasing the clamps on parts of my life that were before almost dangerously restricted.
Relaxation is still a problem, but undoubtedly the process of problem solving in my fiction alleviates the issues. Except, of course, when I find myself presenting a writing problem that has psychological connotations. For instance in Default I’ve written a section around the mental torture of my female protagonist. To do this I undertook research that I found actually quite unpleasant, and have come to the conclusion that people who think that psychological warfare is either fair or right are deeply disturbed individuals. Needless to say the section was written, but with a level of objectivity given to Ronni Flemmings that she didn’t previously posses as a character. My understanding of the situation gave her new strength to cope.
However, undoubtedly at the core of all this understanding came the real belief I’d failed myself when my daughter was born, that I wasn’t good enough to be her mother. That quote in the header is particularly apposite: a series of circumstances prior to her birth (and to a significant extent the birth of my son) made me cut ties with just about everyone I knew at the time, simply because I needed to start with a clean slate moving forward. I have one friend that remain constant from my LJ days, and one from before. That’s it: everyone else is gone, and when (inevitably) someone attempts the Facebook/Twitter friending process, they are quietly and positively ignored. I have no desire to go back to the past, nor to ever live there again. I look now only forward, and with good reason.
I am responsible for all of my failings and shortcomings. Although I’d love to say circumstance and other people are to blame? It’s so really not the case I’d be foolish to attempt to suggest otherwise. I was the selfish, arrogant and thoughtless individual pretty much from start to finish. When I accepted all these things it became a great deal easier to move everything forward, with the understanding that building from scratch has its drawbacks. If I met certain people again I’d happily apologise for my behaviour, but I wouldn’t want to be friends with pretty much all of them. I made all the wrong choices in pretty much every single department, based on a fatally flawed outlook. Now that’s fixed? I still make the wrong choices, but it doesn’t matter nearly as much because I’m able to say I really cared to begin with.
In my journey to explain how writing is therapy, it’s important to grasp that the words can’t be used to lie. There’s no point in trying to sugar coat your perceptions of the past. I was a bitch for a very long time, and I hurt an awful lot of people, often unintentionally. However, there were times when that wasn’t the case and I knew exactly what I was doing, and because of that fact alone, I have a lot of sympathy for anyone who struggles to find themselves a voice of sanity on difficult days. You’ll never be perfect. You’ll never not fuck shit up. That’s life; make it a small part as much as possible. For all the other times in between, it’s a constant balancing act, and no-one is perfect.
If you can find a way to express your frustration as you live? So much the better.