Writing my way
I can’t exactly remember when the urge to write first came upon me. I recall being given a creative writing assignment back in primary school – we had to come up with our very own super hero. As a kid I loved Vegemite (actually, I still do), so much so, that I based my hero and his adventures on that famous Aussie sandwich spread, and, to my delight, took out first prize for the class! I was rapt that I had won, but it was the joy of being creative that struck me and stayed with me.
I also recall writing essays at school and Uni being quite the drag and longed to write romance fiction – my favourite genre as a teen. That desire never held but my love for reading quickly switched from love-stories to self-help literature at the age of 18 when I received my first diagnosis of IBS. Desperate to make sense of the condition and try to manage the erratic symptoms and accompanying emotions, I read…anything and everything of a metaphysical nature that might help me understand what was causing this ‘incurable’ condition.
Since then I have read in the hundreds, if not thousands of such books. It was as if that diagnosis was an initiation – an invitation to delve deeply into the human condition and discover what it means and takes to heal. The more I read, the more I learnt, and the more I wanted to write my own version of a self-help text. So I did.
It was 2005 and the yearning to share what I was learning from my own challenging ill-health journey became all consuming. It didn’t matter where or when I had a revelation, I just had to write about it, there and then! This went on for months and 50,000 words later I had written my first manuscript – an easy-to-read bright and positive self-help book called A New Leaf. And no, before you try googling it, it was never published…but the distilled wisdom I had learned and lived as a result of the writing process was. Note to Self was published as a card and booklet set by local publisher Innovative Resources in 2009, and ten years on is still empowering and inspiring people to choose to change. Stay tuned for that workshop!
Around the same time I was introduced to the wonderful work of Julia Cameron and her book The Artist’s Way, and before I knew it I was hooked on her daily writing practice very simply called Morning Pages. It was suggested as a rescue remedy – I was feeling quite lost once Note to Self was published and wondered would there be any more creative juices in my tank. That was almost 15 years ago, and I can honestly say I wouldn’t be the person I am today without those Morning Pages.
Every morning I would rise and write, three pages, longhand, no matter how tired, grumpy, sick or lazy I was feeling. And everyday those pages supported me as I struggled with increasing physical pain that had no straight answers. I found so much comfort in writing that I began to write more and at other times and other places. I had all sorts of journals on the go (see photo…a current sample!) each one a valuable place to explore what I was dealing with physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually. With each sharp increase in symptoms and flare-ups the need to seek meaning and understanding would also peak and I would dive even deeper into my experience, writing in response to the wisdom I was discovering, both from outside sources and the sage within.
I wrote my way through the pain, the struggles, the suffering, and the despair. I wrote abusive letters to my bowel and my body, declaring war at the outrage and injustice of the seemingly superfluous symptoms that would not let up. I wrote of gratitude for the sunshine on line-dried bed sheets and the tea drunk in fine bone china teacups, my ever-present shadow of a dog, and the pages…always gratitude for the pages. I wrote of my dream to one day write a book of my own that would this time reach the masses, and my vision to heal the world one person at a time. I wrote of my fears and disappointments, the grief of not being able to live without pain and without answers, and of the hope that one day it might be different.
After several years of writing for my psychological survival, an editing class beckoned – skills I thought would be helpful as an aspiring writer. Desperate to get a small dose of people to break up the pain and isolation, I enrolled. Just one subject, three hours a week at our local Tafe. Five subjects later I had all-but knocked over the bulk of a Writing and Editing Certificate, enjoying the writing as much as the editing. Again, the urge to share what I was learning from the journey of life was growing and the creative impulse was again ignited and Seeker & Sage the blog was born.
I finally felt like I was home – not just writing about my experiences and the wisdom I was gathering, but sharing it. It was the beginning of my vision coming to life. But it didn’t stop there – I was serious about my writing and also enrolled at LaTrobe Uni undertaking a Masters and writing about the healing journey I had been on – the power of love and forgiveness and their affect on our health and wellbeing. But my private writing – the journals and the Morning Pages – were revealing what I could no longer hide…the increase of symptoms and the mounting secret fear that my voice was getting too big and too loud for the world to hear.
So I let them both go…the Masters and the blog and returned to writing for myself – to the audience of one – the one that most needed a place to be seen and heard as the next leg of the healing journey made itself known. That was six years ago and through it all – through all the diagnoses, the tests, the ops, the hours and days and weeks of uncertainty and all the why’s and when’s – I wrote.
Writing is my constant companion, the blank page a place of refuge, a place for me to speak and be heard, a place to show my heart and allow myself to be seen. And always, always the blank page unconditionally available and accepting. I write my way, and I write my way through everything. And I know without a doubt I am who I have become because of it.