Friday, 17 October 2014

Writing Myself.



We were on our long drive home from the city after yet another disappointing and disheartening medical appointment. I was contemplating the injustice of the world, the universe, and life in general, and a blog post was already forming in my head. Words and phrases, the panacea to life's ills. If I could order my thoughts on the drive, I knew I could transfer them to my laptop when I finally made it home. I could write a post. Get it all out. And move on. In that moment I knew the need for words. No choice in writing. Just pure need. If people read, great. If they understand, even better. If no one reads or understands, the need is still there. And words will be written, if only for myself.

Each time the words build up and there is no room to breathe. Then slowly they trickle from my mind to my fingers and fall on the keyboard. I watch them appear on the screen in front of me, slowly drawing the venom from the bite of bad news. And then there's room to breathe again. My spirit is lighter and I can face the day. That is writing for me.

I've been ill for eight years now and the last year has been particularly challenging (multiple ED visits and my specialists admitting there's little more they can do for me). And yet I've taken leaps of faith I may not have without that sense of having nothing left to lose.

When I finally had to admit just how ill I was and leave work in 2008, I felt defeated. Work was my life and I didn't know who I was, or where I was going any more. In 2009 a lovely Social Worker I was seeing, suggested I start writing again. I used to write when I was younger, but life had gotten in the way and it had simply slipped aside. Slowly, I started putting words to paper. I showed her, then on her insistence, my family and some other therapists I was seeing. Eventually I started blogging. And in the process I found a renewed love of writing. Therapy in a sense, just in the shape of a keyboard. But I never had the confidence to go further.

Then in 2013 I went to my first Write-ability workshop, offered by Writer's Victoria and Arts Access Victoria, and I began to believe that maybe, just maybe, I could take the next step. Another Write-ability workshop this year on Memoir and my confidence and excitement grew. I took a leap of faith and offered up a piece for a Write-ability Salon at the Emerging Writer's Festival, and suddenly I was in front of a room full of people sharing my words. Then, more recently I took a deep breath and applied for one of the Write-ability Fellowships and was lucky enough to be selected. And suddenly I feel like I can do this.

I wonder if I would still be sitting in my bedroom tapping away at the keyboard and hiding my words in the safe zone of blogging, if not for the Write-ability program? In all likelihood the answer is, yes. Becoming seriously ill and living with a progressive neurological illness challenges your sense of self in ways I cannot fully articulate. For a long time I thought I had nothing to offer the world as who I thought I was, was slowly stripped away piece by piece. And my confidence took a battering in the process. But now there is a real light in my life. I may not have my health but I do have my writing, and a new sense of confidence. Where it will lead I have no idea, but I am ready for the ride. The Write-ability program has been a huge part of that realisation.

So I wanted to take the opportunity to say thank you to both Writer's Victoria and Art Access Victoria, for creating the Write-ability program and for the fantastic team headed by Fiona Tuomy. It provides so many great opportunities for writers with a disability and means a lot to me, as a woman muddling through life with an acquired disability, and I know to many others.


Excited to announce that I was awarded a Write-ability Fellowship recently. Can't wait to start the mentoring process with Sam Twyford-Moore.

Michelle

For those who missed it, this isn't the best quality, but it's my first time publicly reading my words. And the first time since I left work where I've done any public speaking. I've presented research in a room filled with a couple of hundred other researchers, but this moment was one of the most anxiety provoking I have ever experienced. Plus, I had only been discharged from ED two days beforehand, so not in the best state. Go the power of good pain drugs! And supportive family and friends who convinced me I could do it.

1 comment:

All who are lovely enough to comment should be showered with cup cakes, glitter and macarons. I promise to use my spoon bending mind powers to try and get that happening for all who are lovely enough to share their words. Those who go the extra step to share posts should really get a free unicorn. Or at least the gift of finding the shortest and quickest line at the supermarket on a regular basis. xx