On being a writer: write

Joining in with Kate Motaung’s online discussion group On Being a Writer, which is based on Ann Kroeker and Charity Singleton Craig’s book On being a writer: 12 simple steps for a writing life that lasts. One of today’s prompts, which is based on Chapter 5 of the book, asks us to consider what writing means to us and to share a blog post about what the act of writing means to us. Here goes…

Afternoon

I’ve always written, right from when I was little. One of my best memories from childhood is the day we were stood, at school, in the little garden we’d planted (it couldn’t have been more than a metre long and a few centimetres wide), watering the plants (it was a lovely hot summers day). I had the watering can in my hand and, as I was watering the plants, the teacher came running over, all smiles, to tell me that my story had won the competition in the local library. Things are a bit muddled in my memory after that, but I do remember that someone’s shoes got wet because I lost control of the watering can (I remember they weren’t my shoes) and I remember, to this day, the feeling of pride that welled up inside because someone had liked my writing so much that they’d chosen it to win a prize!

I’ve written ever since then. Loved English best at school (although ended up studying science at University and beyond, for my PhD). Wrote stories all the time as a girl. Wrote letters home from University regularly: not just to family but, also, to friends, regaling them of tales in the Big Smoke. Began to write non-fiction during my studies and then that became a freelance ‘gig’.

Set up an editing business, which took over the freelance non-fiction writing. [All of this coinciding with my marriage; strange that I began to lose the ‘writer’ part of myself as I married…and then my marriage turned in to the place where I lost pretty much the whole of myself between the abuse and the isolation and, well, other ‘stuff’].

I then began to write again, during my marriage, as a way out. [Perhaps ‘a way through’ is a better, more fitting, description, because, even in the depths of despair, trapped in an abusive relationship, I never really thought of ‘out’, I always gave him the benefit of the doubt that we would find a way through. How very wrong I was].

Writing was a way of escaping my reality, a way of imagining different situations, escaping the (often-times) horror-filled days (towards the end) that would mark my passage through my life. I could fly, by writing, even when my wings were cut and I could not fly. It was a way of defying my situation, of reclaiming freedom in the face of terror. It was a way of saying ‘I am me. I am Helen and I am bigger than this’ (even when ‘out’ wasn’t possible and I was caged). [And no, that caged bird did not sing].

Then, well, fast forward a few years (because not even I want to remember all that) and I was able to get out and my writing came to be about recovery. About re-discovering myself, reclaiming all the bits and pieces of me that had been lost, dragged to different poles, stretched almost beyond recognition. Mercury sliding across vinyl, me coming together again, slowly, slowly, testing the waters, seeing how it feels, slowly recovering my senses, trust in myself, my confidence, my belief that I would, once again, be able to fly.

I write, now, in many contexts. I write on I Will Bloom, very half-heartedly. I say half-heartedly because I love my space but it is a source of frustration for me. I’d love to take I Will Bloom places, write fabulous posts that would help women to find the joy, to reclaim themselves (post-domestic abuse and otherwise), to write about entrepreneurship and single motherhood and working from home in a ‘You can do it!’ type style…[I’d love to do that]….

….but I have a deeper desire, to write books, to give talks, conferences, to women who’ve been abused and, in particular, on behalf of women who have had the Hague Convention on International Child Abduction used against them (especially in situations of domestic violence) and who are, as a result, stuck – in limbo – in a country not their own, withering their lives away whilst they wait for their children to become adults

[Yes, you may have realised…it does turn your children’s childhoods in to a double-edged sword; you don’t want to wish away a minute of it, you want them to enjoy every single minute of it, but, all the while, there’s the realisation in the back of your mind that there are many, many, many minutes until they reach 18 and you’ll be free].

So…I guess I’m speaking to the Universe now (in tears, actually)…hands up, palms open, calling all the Divine powers….”Use me, use my talents, show me where to go and what to do….”

“Knock and the door shall open” Matthew 7:7 tells me….I’ve been knocking ever so timidly and now I feel it’s about time to start banging

I want to turn the injustices I’ve faced and turn them in to good. Beyond wanting to write to understand my own experiences, I’d like to write so that others facing similar circumstances can feel less alone.

Writing, to me, means sisterhood. Brotherhood. Unity. Realising we’re not alone. That we’re heard. That our voices are heard, even in desperate times.

Those books and characters you can identify with so strongly? Those books that arrive to you at exactly the right moment?

There’s power in words. The power to move souls and to change lives. To find the good.

That’s what I’d like to be known for, as a writer.

[And that’s the kind of blog post you write, folks, when you’ve been at the police station, in a foreign land, all day long, banging your head against a very thick brick wall….]

Helen xxxx

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26 thoughts on “On being a writer: write

  1. i know the answers will come helen. sometimes i think they come as part healing…all of which takes time. i know that isn’t what you want to hear. but as i look back over my life, one that didn’t include the kind of pain you describe, but still included some. I can see where answers i often wanted right away couldn’t come when i wanted them b/c i wasn’t ready for them. i needed to heal b/f I could go to the next level. i will pray for you as you learn to wait…and allow the healing to take place.

    i love your writing. it is truly beautiful and expressive.

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  2. Words fail me, Helen. All I can say is this – I think you are very brave.

    You are also kind, and honest, and fragile, and stronger than a Damascus blade.

    You are a hero, to writers, to women, to men, and to a dying ex-mercenary on a far-off mesa.

    (But I can’t resist asking…what’s the PhD in? I have one of them, too…structural engineering.On the response of concrete pilings to seismic loads.)

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    • iwillbloom says:

      Hi Andrew, definitely like the idea of being stronger than a Damascus blade 🙂 In tropical ecology, of all things….hence my deep and abiding love of Nature in all her glory!

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  3. Julie K says:

    Firstly – I’m sorry you’ve been stuck at the police station all day. I hope you’re all OK. I wish things would move forward for you.

    I don’t doubt that you’ll find a way to share your experiences and reach the people who need you. I’m pretty sure that when you *can* do something, you make sure you do. And so you will.

    On a practical note – is it actually something you *can* do right now? Could you maybe use your energies to write about all those experiences now, while they’re still happening, and begin building up a body of work, methodically, with intent … but not worrying *just yet* about sharing them? Then, once you have some sort of resolution yourself you’d have an entire collection of essays / blog posts / articles ready to share … you could even launch a new site / book with all the material you’d gathered. I can feel how keenly you want to help people *now* but maybe you’re giving yourself an added pressure. Maybe the person who needs your help today is you. And that’s enough for anyone to focus on for a while.

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    • iwillbloom says:

      Hia, just a routine matter….nothing to worry about (other than having wasted six hours of my life!)….yeah, I do write, I write every single day, not just about my experiences but about ‘things’ that pop in to my head (and which, I know, will eventually ‘connect’ and become ‘something’….and, yes, I’m in absolute agreement that the person who most needs help is little. old. me….but that help arrives fleetingly and not in a manner that rubs all my pain away…..(the writing does help in the meantime)…..thanks, you, for such a beautiful response….(it was one of those posts where I hovered over ‘publish’, the ‘raw’ ones….).

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  4. Julie K says:

    p.s: [!] I hope that doesn’t sound defeatist … it absolutely isn’t meant to!

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  5. Julie K says:

    p.p.s: 😉 Just listening to an interesting programme about bilingualism on Radio4, thought you’d appreciate: http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b067wnnb

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    • Julie K says:

      p.p.p.s: Or …. [clearly I’m still thinking about your post!!] … I wonder if you could find somewhere that would let you write an occasional column about your experiences. Like an anonymous correspondent. https://www.the-pool.com/ is a very nice new site … [OK … that’s it, I would drop any more ‘p.s-es on you today!]

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      • iwillbloom says:

        I think, actually, that’s the problem: I should just start looking for outlets….I’ll check out the link (thank you!)….and should, actually, make a concerted effort to dedicate more time to finding places for my writing. [Feel free to drop P.S’es….I know I probably annoy you more than I should with mine ;)]

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    • iwillbloom says:

      Will check it out at the weekend: thank you! (Hah! The ‘P.S’ bug has caught, I see!!!)

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  6. Christy says:

    Helen dear, what a time you’ve had! As an adoptive Mom, I understand the sentiment behind Hague, but we would NEVER consider adopting a child from a Hague country, way too many hoops and like many things, what is meant to protect actually ends up hurting and hindering 😦 I will add you to my prayers. We serve a Father that is not unable but oftentimes desires to strengthen and teach us through hardships. You have many opportunities for learning. It sounds like our deepest desires are similar. You write beautiful words friend

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    • iwillbloom says:

      Thank you….oh, absolutely, He sends us these things as He knows what lessons we need to learn (and I’m truly thankful for this realisation, and for the lessons I’ve learned, even whilst in the midst of all this). Yes, I was surprised, reading your post, as I could feel your dreams being so similar to mine! Here’s to Him working in our favour and to them being realised (dare I say in a manner that’s perhaps even *beyond* our wildest dreams?!)…

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  7. Gabriele says:

    Helen, I have a young friend who is stuck in Hungary with four children and a divorce. She would love to come home, not for a visit, but for good. But…you know. She waits and tries to acclimate and make this childhood seem normal and safe. You and your blog are such a treat. Thank-you for being a generous contributor to the world.

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    • iwillbloom says:

      Hi Gabriele, firstly your last line is about the sweetest thing anyone has ever ‘said’ to me (thank you!)….and, yes, unfortunately there are many of us, worldwide, in similar situations…research estimated that there are around 240,000 ‘Stuck Mums’ (counting just those who have gone through the whole Hague charade)….can you imagine? That’s a whole lot of waste and frustration and lives thwarted. (But I’ll leave it there as I started to cry, thinking about this). Am looking forward to Wednesday! (Have so enjoyed this online discussion!)

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  8. heyjude6119 says:

    Helen, you have such a beautiful heart and a wonderful way with words.
    Sorry you had the frustration of dealing with the police all day. That would have driven me to drink, or eat a whole bag of chocolates.
    I am not familiar with the Hague thing you reference and will have to educate myself on this. I believe you will do great things with your writing. I believe in you!
    I wish we could talk by phone and tell each other when we’re feeling lonely. Something I deal with far too much.
    And I am so glad that it wasn’t your shoes that got wet. That part tickled me. 🙂

    (((Hugs)))

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  9. carlybenson says:

    I love your writing- i think you express things really well and it’s great to read about how writing is something that has helped you get through difficult times. It’s a great motivation to use your words and your experiences to help others and let them see that they’re not alone and I definitely believe this is one way God can bring good out of your difficult experiences. As you say, it’s about praying and seeking him for the timing of that and how he wants you to do it. I’m sorry you have had such a frustrating day- will be praying for you too.

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    • iwillbloom says:

      Hi Carly, thank you so much for taking the time to read and for commenting. Yes, I’m definitely of the belief that a whole lot more good will come of these difficult experiences. Thank you for your prayers (so much appreciated). Helen xx

      Liked by 1 person

  10. annkroeker says:

    Wow, thank you for sharing this retrospective on the role writing has had throughout your life. You’ve included so many life-giving reasons. No wonder you want your words and work to reach people to whom you can uniquely relate! I am certain with the drive and talent I see here in this space, you will find a way and reach them. With strategically placed keywords and key phrases like some you’ve included right here in this post, some of those women may have already found you but be too shy to connect because of their terrifying situations. Your cries will not go unheard, and the cries of women who need your message will not go unheard, either. I can totally imagine your lives converging somewhere, sometime, somehow.

    Liked by 1 person

    • iwillbloom says:

      Ann, it means such a lot that you’d take the time to read and leave such a thoughtful comment. Thank you. [I hadn’t even considered the whole keyword placement issue, and that’s definitely a good one to investigate and to delve in to, so the blog (when I start delving in to ‘those’ issues seriously) can find it’s audience; thank you]. Thank you for the confidence boost! Helen

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  11. Joy Lenton says:

    Helen, your kind, encouraging heart seeps into every word you write. There’s a power, a depth, wisdom and insight, and there’s a determination to make the most of the moments. I see a woman very much coming into her own, with a great way of expressing herself and connecting with people at more than surface levels. Your readers know you have a desire to help them, and these words very much echo my own way of wanting to write:” I’d like to write so that others facing similar circumstances can feel less alone.” Amen! And those things you still feel compelled to do? They await their perfect time and place. Keep on doing what you already do so well. You’re doing great, girl! Xox ❤

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    • iwillbloom says:

      Hi Joy, oh, absolutely, I think the realisation that ‘the moments’ are all we ever have is what has kept me going, to be honest….a lifeline out, if you were…thanks so much for your wonderful, wonderful words…you know they’re so much appreciated…Helen xxx

      Liked by 1 person

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