I wrote the other day about the joy of playing with words, the re-capturing of the knowledge that, in fact, I am a writer. That I can choose to take delight in words, in the way they come together, in the images and feelings I can create with them, the taste of them and the colour of them in my mouth.
This morning, I found the notebook entry I’d made on that day, some of the sentences and fragments of poetry that had come together on that beautiful country drive. And, as usual, it’s been so busy that I couldn’t actually remember what I’d written – I came to it fresh, objective, with new eyes, and I actually found myself thinking: “That’s not bad!”.
It’s a good feeling.
I never used to question my identity as a writer. I was confident in it. I was confident in my capacity to work with words, in my respect for them, in their capacity and their beauty. Then I spent the better part of ten years being convinced I had no value. How could someone so stupid be a writer? How could someone so boring ever have anything worthwhile to say, let alone write for people to read? What value could anything that came from my mind possibly have? Or, how could I be so selfish to spend time writing rubbishy stories and poems? I wasn’t in high school anymore, I was married and had responsibilities for a husband and a house, and writing didn’t meet anyone’s needs but my own. And things happened: notebooks went missing. My computer was damaged beyond repair, with all my writing irretrievable. A framed certificate for a prize in a writing competition was smashed. A box containing hard copies of my poetry was drenched in beer.
It happened so insidiously that I didn’t notice it – and at the same time, writing at home became impossible: the demands of living with a person who tried to undermine my creativity in whatever way possible simply took precedence. And then things got more fraught, more volatile, more dangerous – and it’s a rare and very special person who can keep their creativity alive when they’re trying to survive a war zone. I don’t have that strength, that determination, that single-mindedness. Creativity needs to be respected, and nourished, to thrive.
I’m re-learning about myself as a writer. I’m re-learning how my own creativity works. I’m re-learning how to take joy in my writing, in my creativity and sense of whimsy and adventure. I’m re-learning how to play with my art.
One day I might find myself voicing the words “I’m a writer” without even thinking about it, in the same way I’d say “I’m a social worker” or “I’m right-handed”. I might even find myself saying the words with pride in my voice.
But for the moment, I’ve spent the last two years regaining something precious that I thought I’d lost for good. And, incredulously, I can start to whisper those words: Actually, despite it all, I am a writer.