WORDSMITH

I AM WRITING

I am writing because I love to

I am writing words on a page,

That dance,

And skip,

And run on paper.

Words that calm,

Excite, enthuse and trigger.

Words that have magic

When strung together,

In rhythm, or wild and free.

 

Words unique to me,

To my expression,

My history,

My emotions.

Words that warm the heart,

Or break it.

Shattering the world

To tears and deep blue sadness,

To gut wrenching fear

And the fiery gate of anger.

Words to ignite,

To aid our flight

Awaken our soul, alive.

 

And words that

Feel too small to tell the truth

Of wonder.

But, words it is and words they are,

That help me

Speak and feel

And learn and create

And feed a passion

Of mine.

 

I write because I long to write

It’s simple really

There black and white.

To write, to write, to write.

sharpen-snoopy-writing

 

When I was young I was a very good reader and had read all the set books by the time I was 7 and so became a “free reader:” a pupil who was able to read anything at all on the shelves. I don’t remember all the books, but I do remember visiting the book shelves time and time again. At home, we hardly had any books. I remember one of my grandmothers’s buying me a whole set of Enid Blyton books one year and I read them again and again. I read anything, even my brother’s “Fantastic Four” annuals or my mother’s Catherine Cookson.

I loved reading and escaping into worlds other than my own, enjoying adventures and imaginary places, away from harsh realities. When I was older, I read a lot of Jane Austen, which were one of many I read out loud in order to hear myself speak differently and experiment with how it felt to talk as they did in the 19th Century. This is something I still like to do. I am fascinated with words and language: how they sound, feel and what they can express. But words are not limitless and I feel there are many things where words are not enough, but words can and do express a whole realm of wonder, information and imagination.

At some point during my childhood and certainly by the time I was 12 I started to write a diary or journal and to this day I continue to do so. It has never really been a daily event and there have been long periods where I wrote nothing at all. When I look back at my diaries aged 12, 13, 14 or 15 I cringe at some of the topics; boys, what my friends are doing, that kind of thing. But in between the normal sort of teenage stuff are painful entries of insecurity, fear, anger, frustration and sadness.

Then as a teenager some of that expression started to form into poetry and is still a form I love as it can be uninhibited by form, structure or grammar. It can flow in any direction, made from three words or three hundred. When I was teaching English for a while, I told the students that everyone is a poet (which I still believe) and then I proceeded to read a short, but powerful seven-word poem by my son. After their exclamations of approval I would tell them Ben has Down’s syndrome and could hardly write when he thought of that poem. All he did was tell his teacher what he saw and felt.

For me, it is that simple, poetry is about your physical senses and most importantly your feelings. What can you see, hear, taste, smell, touch and feel? What colours are in that butterfly? What happens in your heart when you watch her flitter around your face? How do you feel when you see scenes of war on the TV? Or hear that teenagers are lazy? It is human nature to respond to everything around us. We can try to shut it down and do successfully at times, but never completely: there is always a feeling their somewhere.

I recently watched a great documentary on the BBC called “We are Poets” about the Leeds Young Authors.  These are a group of 13-19 year old who are taught how writing can help them find their voice and expression and even discover who they are and want to be. It helps many young people deal with difficult life circumstances and take them away from negative life choices. They performed their poetry, sometimes called Slam Poetry and what impressed me the most was the passion with which they wrote, the passion with which they spoke and also that they never shied away from difficult subject matter. They said it – as it is for them and thanks to the project they have discovered all this at a young age.

For myself, I am nearing 50 and it was only about  5-6 years ago that I started to tell others I liked to write and that maybe I would like to do this more and maybe I had something to write about. It wasn’t easy to say. I felt others would laugh at such a dream or read something I had written and confirm what I felt inside that maybe I couldn’t really write and like a tone deaf singer I didn’t know how terrible my voice truly was.  Starting this blog over two and half years ago was a big step and a big statement. It was the moment when I decided I had to stop worrying less about what others thought and just do what I love.

Robby and I had been to a talk about six months earlier, when Jesus had given an example of a friend who had followed his passion to make music, sing and play his guitar. He had started off just playing for himself, just because of his love for it and over time as he worked through emotions and grew his desire he was now getting paid to do what he loved.  The story stayed with me and so the blog started. Since then, I have cried tears over all the years I didn’t follow my passions and dreams and having cancer really put into perspective the time I had wasted in not writing, not painting and not doing what I love and even discovering other new loves.

A creeping apathy had overtaken my life, a slowly creeping ivy where I had focused more on my son than myself, where I had found it easier to avoid feeling fear and live in it; avoid my feelings of self worth, therefore stifling and strangling my creativity. Suppressing sadness, fear, anger also suppressed joy, creativity, spontaneity and wonder. I had become addicted to struggle and made myself so grey, so small, I was barely there at all. I had sinned against myself, by denying a huge and vital part of who I am and who God designed me to be: creative, colourful, wondrous.

Writing this blog was the beginning of something – a place where I have explored my emotions, uncovered lies, truth and facade. It has been a journey of self doubt and self discovery, but most importantly it has been a place of growing confidence in my own expression. I have made mistakes, ones which devastated me at times, because I have an injury to always get things right, but which over time have taught me to be softer in these mistakes and just enjoy the process of writing. And I have enjoyed  it all and in the last few months my passion to write has grown, along with my confidence.

I have taken the first steps on this yellow brick road and I am loving it! I started writing the other day and a character grew from it, a character with a story. I found and edited a children’s story I wrote six years ago. I continue to write my journal and my poems and I am planning to go back through the boxes now with all the odd bits of paper in them of ideas and bits of writing in them and see what’s there. I have also signed up to a writing magazine and I sent a little article to a local one.

God has heard me and many Law of Attractions are happening to confirm my desire. A book appeared called “Freeing the Writer Within;” I was given a free ticket to a poetry and storytelling event; someone else has offered me a free place on a storytelling and performance workshop; I went to a cafe and got chatting to a lady opposite me and she turned out to be Marcia Willets, who has written 28 successful novels and then I met an amazing group of people who work for and with artists who are migrants or refuges and with the aim to portray a different message and challenge perceptions via music, writing, performance and film. Amazing hey?!

We were made to be passionate about what we love, to be passionate about life and all it can offer us if we allow ourselves to feel all the things that have stopped our passion in the first place and taking action will cause this. Writing and my deepening desire to write more is triggering issues of self worth, also reflected in the work I currently do to survive, rather than do work I love.  Every day I feel the pain of this in some way, but also feeling more will to keep writing and expressing and dancing with words and see where it takes me and what it creates in my life.

So in celebration of this dance here is a little poem I jotted down after watching “We are Poets.”  Thank you to the Leeds Young Authors for the inspiration and for showing me how to slam it, and to Jesus and Mary for helping me know it is good to do what I love and demonstrating to me the joy in doing do. If I could perform this poem it would not be meekly said.

I WROTE

I wrote when my heart was Breaking 

and I was Aching for more.

I wrote when my world was crazy 

and the in- fighting

Never stopped.

I wrote to make sense 

of the times when nothing did.

I wrote to soothe my pain

Or scream insane

When they did, what they did

To hurt me, ignore me, 

confuse me and taught me 

to hate me. 

Words were my only friends

The only honesty

In the lies that burned into

my heart

By the ones who were 

meant to love the most. 

But instead broke

me.

In words I found my strength,

my dance, my ‘I’ again.

In poetry 

I am me. 

 

Maxine Bell @2016

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