Recently, I decided to look into something that had been bothering me for a long time, because I needed to understand where it happened, at what point, and why. In 2014, I began writing for Cultured Vultures. I wrote 11 articles, was running my own blog and was co-running a poetry night in Manchester. In 2015, the blog was mostly inactive, but I wrote 35 articles and finished my first – still unpublished as of writing – poetry collection. In 2016, I only wrote 4 articles and the poetry night in Manchester had come to an end. But, I was still making big plans for my poetry collection; I added more to it, shaped the story I wanted to tell and planned to get it published in 2017.
2017. The year I stopped writing.
Well, not completely. I wrote a total of 2 articles for Cultured Vultures, and I wrote a couple of poems here and there. But the plans that I had for my poetry just seemed to…dwindle. Worse than dwindle. They just stopped altogether, completely abandoned and left to gather e-dust in the cold and unforgiving confines of my laptop. And it wasn’t something I thought I could explain, or more to the point, I didn’t want to confront. I wrote about writer’s block in the previous year, and I was convinced that I could use that as a viable excuse for as long as I could swing it.
I’ve promised myself that this year, 2018, is the year that I get back to where I once belonged; getting lost in the wondrous and whimsical world of nothing but words, grabbing letters, phrases and sentences and weaving them to make some magic. But to do that, I had to ask myself the toughest question of all, and get some answers: why did I stop writing in the first place?
My life dramatically changed
Last year, a lot of things in my life happened. I moved out of my parents’ house for the first time and became a real adult, or so people keep telling me. I got a dog – something that I never thought I’d do – and he gets all of the attention that I once had, but I love him anyway. I got a new job after over a year of trying to get out of the soul-sucking retail hamster wheel that I had been running on for the past four years. And lastly, I got married to my partner of a year and a half. So to say that things changed in my life would be a bigger understatement than saying Theresa May just needs to get gone. Now. Thanks awfully.
Because of all these things, I realised how little time I actually had compared to when I was living in my bedroom at my parents’. I had no real responsibilities back then, other than occasionally being asked to clean my room or texting my mum if I wasn’t coming home that night, and now suddenly I had a flat in my name, bills to pay, my own washing and tidying and ironing to do – not that I ever iron, but still – and another person to consider, two if you count the dog, which I imagine most people would take issue with if I didn’t. There was absolutely no room for ‘writing’ in my brain at the point.
My mental health took an absolute beating
I have bipolar disorder, type II, and one thing I’ve found personally when it comes to my mental health is this: I don’t react particularly well to change. And you see all those things up there? Yeah, you see where this is going. Believe me, it wasn’t a pretty sight.
Now usually, even through my darkest hours, I have still been able to write. In fact, I’ve found that in times of extreme emotional turbulence, I’ve written my very best work. But the problem I had at this point was the fact that before, living with my parents, I had the time and opportunities to hide in my room and do very little, in between working and eating, whereas when you’re trying to run a flat, it’s a different story. The dog still needs walking, the dirty clothes and dishes still need to be cleaned, we’ve got no food in the house, and oh, did I mention that my husband also suffers from mental health issues, and therefore we often rely on each other in times of support?
Although I’m generally quite good at understanding my own mental health and knowing what to do to make things easier for myself, this was some expert level shit, and believe me when I say I’ve gained a hell of a lot of experience points, probably enough to take down a final boss (three cheers for gaming references!). So again, writing was not really pinging on my radar.
I’d just stopped enjoying it
And now we’ve reached the crucial point, the part that I was quite honestly dreading, because I don’t want to admit that this is how I actually felt about it, and it’s such a simple statement.
I no longer looked forward to writing.
And that was anything, to writing an article, composing a poem, even my legendary ranting on Facebook – which, even when I stopped doing any other writing, was pretty much a weekly thing – had been reduced to something I only did every now and again, when I was really riled up about something. It was as if someone had extinguished the fire that I had inside me, the one that lit up my words and made them into fireworks, and I had no idea how to get it back.
It was only when I took the time to look back at the work I had done over the years – my poetry, my articles, my contributions to blogs – that I realised that the flame was still there, even if it was only a flicker. I was good at what I did. Brilliant, in fact. I finally looked at my work as I imagined that a casual reader would, I and I remembered comments that people would say to me that I dismissed as ridiculous because I was young and naïve and believed that the only way to accept a compliment was to hysterically laugh and say, ‘OH STAHP’. After years of soul searching, I realised that I was actually still a writer, and that I still could be a writer, that I might just have to work a little harder at it, and find the time to fit in it around the life that I now lived.
So I suppose this is officially me saying: I think I’m ready.