Category Archives: Truth

Wonder Weeks

Bungay from the banks of the River Waveney

Bungay from the banks of the River Waveney, the perfect place to contemplate my own personal Wonder Week experience!

You see, I haven’t forgotten you!

Taking a bit of a blog break has been less of a necessity and more of ‘I only have so much energy and something has to fall off my todo list in order for me to survive’ thing.

Its not that my life has been event-free; more that it has been so event-packed that there has been no room to breathe.  Recent weeks have been so full of stuff – appointments, health problems, elder care, visitors, travelling, and aggravation – that there has been almost no space to remember who I am, let alone what I want to create.

One thing struck me this weekend, though, as I talked with my song-writer friend.  There are times in life when we have these emotional growth spurts, when life is difficult and challenging, and when all our energy has to go into dealing with whatever mountain we have to climb.  These are the times when we learn and grow.  They are not necessarily when we are in the right place to create the Great English Novel! (Or poem, or song lyric!)

I am reminded of friends who have become parents talking about their baby’s ‘wonder weeks’, those stages in development when an infant’s brain grows to allow it to gain new capacities to interract with its world.  These are often times when a child is grouchy, sleeping badly, and crying for no reason.  Get to the other end of a wonder week, and your baby has learnt to sit up unaided, or vocalise in a new way, and it was worth all the pain and sleepless nights.

As adults, I think we have wonder weeks too.  Its just sometimes we go for months or years without development, and then a dozen wonder weeks come along all at once, leaving us feeling like we have been hit by a steam roller.

If, like me, you are caught in a chain of adult wonder weeks, it’s worth noting that while your brain is preoccupied with making new neural pathways, and driving a bulldozer through old ones, it is unlikely to have any energy, space or interest in anything else.  Time to be kind to yourself.

I’ve had to accept that this is not a time in my life during which I am going to have the ability to concentrate on complicated activities.  I’ve given up trying to read fiction, watch drama or write anything complex.  I seem to be only able to cope with reading books about history (which feels strangely comforting), or wellbeing (which are directly relevant to my situation), or to watch TV documentaries.  I can’t even read blogs at the moment.  I just can’t take them in.

But that’s okay.

My brain is doing other stuff.  So I’m not trying to force it back onto the straight and narrow.  I’m trusting that it knows what its doing, and that eventually I will come out the other end with my pockets stuffed full of psychological doubloons from this unplanned diversion.  It may be an adventure I didn’t sign up for, but that’s how life sometimes is.

Don’t pile yourself up with SHOULDS.  The blogosphere is full of exortations to fulfil your Life Purpose, organise your house, build your dream business, learn Mandarin in a week – but if that week happens to be a grown-up wonder week for you, believe me, trying to learn Mandarin at that point in your life will be the emotional equivalent of trying to run a marathon when you are lashed to the Rack.  And just as pointless.

Give yourself a break.  Don’t live in SHOULDland.

Unfortunately, adult wonder weeks don’t arrive in calendar-friendly order like those for babies.  We never know when the Universe is going to clock us round the chops with the Frying-pan of Enlightenment, or fell us with what feels like a very back-handed ‘opportunity’ for growth.  But that is what they are – opportunities.  No matter how wretched they might feel.

Give yourself a break.  Be where you are.  Accept where you are. 

Stop fighting it.

Rather than try to soldier on when brain and body are apparently no longer willing to cooperate, it is far better to let them do their thing and hang up the whip for a while.  Preferably permanently.

Give yourself a Break.  Choose a new way. 

Choose kindness towards yourself.

In the meantime, I’ll keep you posted as to when I surface from my wonder weeks!

Happy Creating,

EF

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Exhausted and Overwrought – and Deleting ‘Not So Innocent’

Following mature and thoughtful discussion in the comments section of my last post, I’ve decided to take ‘Not So Innocent’ off AO3.  The whole thing has upset me too much, especially since we are now facing a new personal crisis in RL.  Its just not worth it.

Right now, I don’t want to publish a fanfic ever again.  I just can’t face it.  I’ll get over that, I suppose.  I always do.  I certainly don’t want to spend today writing, as I had planned.

I want to say something erudite about the way women are treated by society, but I just don’t think I can.  I’ll just say this:

Jimmy Saville’s victims number in the hundreds.  More come out every day.

Accusations are now filtering out about not just sexual and physical abuse, but children being killed as part of sex parties by a ring centred in Westminster in the 70s and 80s.

Bill Cosby’s career is in freefall after accusations of rape.

Rotherham.

Birmingham.

Rochdale

Oxford

Telford

Syria and Iraq

Boko Haram

Women being executed for bringing ‘shame on their families’ by being the victim of rape.

Just about every photoshopped photograph in every glossy magazine published anywhere in the world.

Every diet company that preys on women’s poor self image.

Gala Darling’s recent revelations

Every girl who’s afraid to walk down her own street at night, but thinks the only way to be acceptible to her peers is to go out scantily dressed on a Friday night and get so drunk she can’t even stand, let alone take care of herself and keep herself safe.

Every boy who thinks that when a girl says no, she means ‘yes’ because she’s ‘playing hard to get’.

Every person who judges me because I don’t have children, or because I let my hair grow grey, because I’m not behaving like a ‘proper’ woman.

My husband’s 86 year old aunt, who weighs no more than 6 stone, telling me her thighs are fat.

And the fact that the acceptance of abuse is so ingrained in both my mind and yours that often we don’t even notice it.  Because I certainly didn’t.

EF

 

Unexpected Attack of the Killer Critics

“Well, it smacks of arrogance to me,” she said, when I explained to her what a blog was.  “To assume you have something to say that anyone would want to read.”

After that, I admit I lost track a bit of what she was saying, distracted by the fact that the word ‘ARROGANT’ seemed to be written above our heads in flashing red neon capitals.

And then was somehow branded on my forehead.

This, from a long-time friend, someone I have known for many years through both ups and downs, hers and mine.  I thought she knew how much my writing meant to me,  I thought she understood,

Of course, it all comes from fear.

Fear that the world is changing, and she doesn’t understand it.

It is fear that makes a person, however intelligent, assume that because they don’t understand something, it has no value.  The irony of this position is that it puts the fearful person in the centre of their universe, which is as good a definition of arrogance and egotism as I have seen.

Driving home, I realised my heart was hurting.  I looked up at the sun piercing shafts of silvery light through the evening rainclouds (“God speaking”, as my mother says whenever she sees such a sky) but I couldn’t see the beauty of it.  I was hurting too much.  But it won’t stop me, her criticism.  I will make lemonade.

Why?

Because I can’t not write.

Regardless of whether anyone thinks that what I have to say has merit (and I know some of you do because you kindly subscribe, favourite, like and comment, for which I am eternally grateful), I will go on writing because I am compelled to write.

Because its my job.

It’s my life’s work.

Its what I do.

I don’t get paid for it – not yet anyway, though I have hopes.  Some friends still don’t get that, either.  Their measure of success comes in pound notes.  They can’t understand my ‘failure to monetize’.  They don’t understand that to me, success means averaging 400 readers a day of my fanfiction, over 400 subscribers to this blog, or on some days, just managing to write two or three coherent sentences.

My critical friend doesn’t understand the compulsion to be creative, to have a voice.  She doesn’t get that if I don’t write every day, I turn into the Evil Twisted Passive-Aggressive Psycho-Bitch from Hell.  And she doesn’t understand that:

EVERYBODY HAS THE RIGHT TO SPEAK THEIR OWN TRUTH.

So if you take nothing else away from my work, and from my complaining about my thoughtless friend, or why money-oriented people don’t understand creativity as an end in itself, please take this:

SPEAK YOUR OWN TRUTH.

IT IS YOUR RIGHT.

This is my message to you, and whether it has merit or not, it is my life’s work to say it, over and over again.

Happy Creating,

EF

Life – A Work in Progress

Saxlingham Summer Blues:  Partially finished, hand stitched quilt made by me.  Each square is 4x4cm.

Saxlingham Summer Blues: Partially finished, hand stitched quilt made by me. Each square is 4x4cm.

One weekend, I found myself doing some major revisiting.  Old issues, old passions.  Let me explain:

I was having a clear out, and I opened a box to find a large stash of fat quarters.  Patchwork and quilting enthusiasts amongst you will know what I’m talking about.  Fabric shops sell specialist, high quality cotton patchwork fabrics in small amounts, as well as by the metre – by the quarter yard or metre, in fact, or, in the trade, ‘fat quarters’. (Don’t ask me why ‘fat’ ones, I have no idea.)  They are much cheaper and allow you to build up a big selection of colours and designs for patchwork projects with a lower investment, because you usually need fairly small quantities for such projects.  Every quilter will have such a treasured stash.

I haven’t done any patchwork in quite a large number of years, and I don’t see myself doing any again for a while, if at all, so I decided to hand my stash on to someone who would use it.  Going through the wads of cloth reminded me of the time in my life when quilting was my main creative outlet, of the colours and patterns I was into then, of William Morris, the Pre-Raphaelites, of earthy reds and browns, and sage greens.

I’m a different person now.

I’m all grey and blue and white and Modernism these days.

It is not that these old perferences have dated.  Its just that I have moved on.

Later that same weekend, I found myself discussing an old trauma with dear friends, something that happened long ago, but that is an underlying influence on my life even now.  I have processed so much of the pain and damage of it that it has become part of the landscape of my life, as much as the tree outside my gate, and like that tree, I acknowledge its structuring presence, but I rather take it for granted, and essentially ignore it unless it specifically comes up.

And when it came up, it raised with it new issues.  I realised I would have to revisit my past, and look at old hurts with new eyes.  As I do so, I realise that I am a different person now, that I have come a long way.  On our journey through life, we bump up against some issues repeatedly, and its easy to get frustrated when this happens over and over again.

Life is not a circle

Bad, hand drawn graphic of how I’m trying to explain this…

Our lives are not circles in which we come up against the same old stuff every time.  Each time we encounter them, we are further along in our healing process.  Life is like a spiral.  Each time we encounter our pain, we can see it through a new perspective.  It re-emerges for a reason, because more healing is needed, more work must be done.

Another bad, hand drawn graphic to illustrate how we encounter triggers as a spiral on our life journey

Another bad, hand drawn graphic to illustrate how we encounter triggers as a spiral on our life journey

It took me a long time to understand that I was not a bad person because my tastes changed over time.  There is nothing wrong with leaving old interests behind and developing new ones.

Going back over old hurts doesn’t make me a bad person either.  When there are new things I need to explore about them, it is okay to do that.  Writing helps.  I am now able to engage with my old wounds through my writing.  Last time I did so, the result was one of my most popular stories, ‘The Case of the Cuddle’.  Now I find myself finally working with commitment on its long-anticipated sequel.

I wasn’t ready to do it before.  I did not have the impetus.  Now I need to speak the truth that its plot entails.  If I cannot do it in my own life, then I can do it through my story worlds.  I thought I had left the ‘CuddleVerse’ irrevocably behind.  I thought I was healed.  Now I understand, that healing, just like creativity, is a process.

I can’t tell you when the final installment will be ready to read.  I can’t even tell you if it is the final installment.  I may still have more healing to do.  Like the half-finished patchwork in the picture above, it has sat in a digital drawer for two years, waiting for me to be ready to handle it.

Some things we leave behind, and some things we need to come back to, time and again.

And that is part of Life – The Process.

Happy Creating,

EF

 

I want to talk about Truth

sussex churchI was having a conversation with a friend who is a songwriter.  A lovely, talented man.  He has left his old pattern of working, writing what he described as ‘pop songs’ in pursuit of his own, original voice.  He wants to be true to himself.  He says he has yet to find his own voice, but I am sure he’ll know it when he does, and it will be a truly special and deeply needed contribution to the world.

For me, this summer’s events have echoed continually his struggle.  I have time and again come up against issues surrounding truth-telling, authenticity, and being heard.

We all need to feel heard.  We all need to feel that our message has got through, that we are understood.

We each have a unique voice, too.  Maybe we don’t need another historical novel, or a pop song, but we need the original perspective of the person making that piece of art, because everyone has one.

Everyone has a unique experience of the world.  No one, not even a twin, can have exactly the same perspective as you, because no one has the same thoughts and reactions, or the same past, to bring to an event.

YOUR TRUTH NEEDS TO BE TOLD

I can’t count the number of times I have looked at what I have written or drawn and thought: ‘Gods, this is shit!  I’ve got nothing new to say.  Its all just copying.’

(Incidentally, there is nothing wrong with copying as a practise to learn an art form.  Its been used in art schools for centuries, and if you go into any great gallery, you will find students sitting on little fold chairs in front of paintings, copying away.  Presenting someone else’s work as your own is quite another thing, however, and its nothing short of stealing.)

Eventually, I will find my own, unique voice.  Perhaps I already have, I’m not entirely sure.  But I have my own opinions, my own truths to tell, things that no one else can share with the world.  No, the world may not need yet another historical romance novel, but it may just need mine.

After forty-odd years of being in this world, this is what I know:

We are all unique.

We all have a story or truth to tell.

We all have a right to tell that story or truth in whatever way makes sense to us.

We all have the right to be heard.

We all have the right to develop and acknowledge our own voice.

If there is one thing I want to say to you this weekend, it is this:

TELL YOUR TRUTH

You might find the following links useful:

This, from Liz Lamoreaux, about truth-telling.

This, from Andrea Sher, about the gift of allowing others to help and comfort you.

And this, which is one of my most popular stories, but which was probably the most difficult thing I have ever written, because it comes from a place of deep truth for me.

I can’t sign off by saying ‘Happy Creating’ today.  I just want to ask you to somehow, in whatever way you can, to tell your truth,

With love and thanks for your support,

EF