My collection of poems about motherhood, family, old friends, spiritual journeys and the sea entitled, ‘RISE’, is available to download for free on Smashwords.
I’ve had all my poems sitting together in a folder for a while now. I’d published them in drips and drabs on my blog, but I’d been planning to do something with them for a while, maybe a chapbook or a simple ebook. But I was lazy.
Yesterday I was invited to read my science fiction poem ‘Future Imperfect’ as part of a gathering, but unfortunately I wasn’t able to attend. Instead, I sent a recording of the poem (which you can hear here) and it was very well received by the group. It will now be included in a chapbook of poems, dedicated to the late New Zealand author Brian E Turner.
Also yesterday I had an unexpected visit from the Head Weasels, more commonly known as anxiety and depression. Their timing was irritating and rather ironic. An article by writer Lee Murray focusing on writers and mental health, and which I had been quoted in, had just gone live that morning.
I was in a funk. I didn’t want to write. Instead, I did some digital doodling and ended up creating two new “Goddess” pieces – Ocean and Stars.
Inevitably, as these things often prove to be, the latter piece spoke to me as potential book cover art. She had come to me at just the right moment and reminded me that I don’t always have to focus on one creative area, even if that’s the one that is shouting at me the loudest and demanding my attention. A sense of achievement can come from enjoying the journey just as much as the destination.
To use old words to explain new feelings: (from Becoming Open, Nov 2018)
“Mental health forms a large part of my inspiration. I write about it, draw and paint about it, and talk openly about it. On days when I am emotionally exhausted and demotivated, I might only manage a few lines of writing, short shower-thoughts or in-the-car ideas. On heavy, black days I write of the darkness; spitting out harsh, sharp, bitter thoughts, born from a place of emotional hurt. Sometimes, when I can feel things changing, I focus on the good and the positive and being grateful. I can manipulate my emotions in this way, turn the metaphorical wheel and steer away from any negativity for a while.
“Writing for mental health is not the same as writing about mental health. Granted, it can be, and sometimes exploring the darker or more complex side of your emotions is an important and useful strategy in establishing a positive mental space, but I think it is simpler than that. Writing for the pure enjoyment of writing, brings focus. Pouring a part of yourself into something you create is both liberating and invigorating. It allows you to take time to explore your thoughts and emotions in the way you need to. It gives you connections and opens new doors.”
I feel like I have shoo-ed away some of the Head Weasels now, or at least whipped them into shape a little bit. Honestly, though, as much as I detest their visits, I do accept that they are a part of me and my life, and they shape me just as much as happiness and positivity do.
“I write to make myself feel better. I always have. That doesn’t mean that I write because something is wrong, rather that things are more likely to become wrong if I don’t write. I write to bring focus to myself and my experiences, to put things into proper perspective, so that I can acknowledge and assess the impact those experiences have had on me. I write because sometimes it is easier to put my thoughts on paper than to verbalise them, especially if those words are difficult to say. Writing every day helps me challenge my anxieties, release tension and frustration in my mind and body, and brings order to my daily routine.
“I write because often the stories I really want to read have not yet been written, and the characters in my head are so real to me that writing them into existence can feel like a powerful exorcism. I write because sometimes it is the only talent I have which I feel quietly confident in, and yet despite that confidence the demon of Imposter Syndrome quite frequently raises it’s critical, disparaging head. I write to vanquish that demon. I write because I believe my words can influence people. Not in a “save the world” kind of way, but in a way that means the reader can take an idea away with them, that they may find a spark of inspiration or reflection, perhaps even go on to write something new themselves.
“I write mostly because it brings me joy. Joy in the crafting of a narrative, of weaving the words into complex threads that entwine themselves around their readers, bringing joy to them in turn.”