Wednesday, 9 July 2014

Why I write

I've been totes MIA lately. Earlier this year I was writing quite often, almost daily there for a while. My head seemed so full of ideas and epiphanies. So many stories. Often when I write, it open parts of me that are kept kept inside, linked with other things I haven't pondered for some time - writing triggers memories, if you like. But for a moment there it got slightly intense, so I've been taking time out to just stare off into space, rather than focusing so much on expression. Mulling over my thoughts, reflecting and making room for quiet.

It's important for me to do that sometimes.

Anyway this week a friend of mine asked me if I would participate in something. An explanation on why I write.I love the "why" in everything, so it's obviously a big yes from me. There are a few people participating in this online, and so here is mine...

Why I write...

An awful lot goes on in this brain of mine. My thoughts often get all jumbled up, intertwined in a complex ball of tangled mess. I enjoy clarity of thought - but that clarity comes after three things have happened. 1. Time. 2. Mulling. 3. Conversation, both external (with other people) and internal (often through writing, sometimes I just talk aloud to myself).

I've always written. When I was younger, I wrote letters to people, mostly friends. I thought I couldn't write stories or essays (or anything else). I honestly didn't know I had it in me - but I had just never really given it enough effort. (And whether I do or not is subjective - you decide that part).

But I reckon anyone can write. For some it comes naturally. For me, it did not and often does not - but often I can only enjoy things that challenge me. I bore easily, I guess. Writing is a craft that is refined and developed over time. It's challenging to find the right words, and order them in the right way, but so rewarding.

When I initially started my online writing, this blog (formerly the beauty within it) - I was writing to try and un-complicate those complicated thoughts, to untangle the messy ball of string that is my life.

Eventually I realised (thanks to some gentle nudging by my former therapist) - that the idea is not to untangle it, but fall in love with the mess of it, with all the complication. That accepting that part of myself and embracing it - is far more effective than trying to "fix" it (for lack of a better expression). And in any event, wasn't it possible that, given I love a challenge, un-complicating my life would mean it would bore me senseless? Interesting.

Anyway, happily for me, language is such an incredible tool for me to explain the mess and complication. To put words to these often wild and wonderful things I experience - to give them a home outside my heart. To free up some space in my head - but put it somewhere safe that I can return to later.

I do it for myself privately. If I suspect my musings may benefit someone else, I post it here.

What am I working on?

I am working on a number of things. Always...

In my day job I am a property lawyer. 90% of my job is writing, maybe more... lucky me! Even though the style and the approach is different I still enjoy the process of legal drafting and writing, and still find ways to incorporate my writing style into my work. The more complicated the issue, the better, obviously.


For the past 5 years or so I've also been working on writing a book, a memoir. I feel I'm too young to write one, and so it hasn't been a constant thing. I go through phases of not looking at it, and then for a brief window of time it's almost like I cannot stop the words and I must write, and sentences quickly start spilling off multiple pages and into multiple chapters.

The name of the book has changed around 6 times, in line with changes in its theme. And I don't know if I'll publish it. I'm enjoying the process more than anything.

How does my writing differ from others in its genre?

I think the biggest thing I struggle with is focus of subject matter. The complicated mess of tangled wool makes it difficult for me to limit my writing to one or two somehow-related topics. Often my posts are philosophical in nature. Sometimes my posts are nothing more than something I've found amusing. I've also posted about my political persuasions and personal views.

For me the only singular subject matter genre I can narrow it down to is everything in life, because - my life is my life and to me it's all relevant. I no longer have a desire to untangle the mess. I've worked hard to not separate it all, or "fix it" and so it makes sense that my writing would reflect that.

It's all there, intertwined. It evolves over time, depending on what's going on. I go with it.

[throws a handful of (environmentally friendly) confetti in the air]

I'd like to think this gives my writing space an authenticity, or a rawness. I try not to self edit too much.

If nothing else, it's real. Realness is important to me. It's all I have.

Why do I write what I do?

People I know are often puzzled (and sometimes critical) of the openness of my writing style.

Honestly, I feel as though I'm not open enough. And I do it consciously, in a bid to cut through the bullsh!t, something I despise. I've weighed up the pros and cons of being open or closed. I've tried a few different communication approaches.

This one resonates with me the most. It's not the most comfortable. But it's the one I'm satisfied with, holding myself to the same expectation I hold others to.

I've been through a couple of patches in my life where I didn't have a scrap of internal hope to hold onto. Periods of bleak depression (to varying degrees). During one in particular, the absence of hope was so black and hollow and empty I gave a lot of thought to oblivion (living the way I was somehow seemed impossible). Some say depression is the complete absence of hope, and I can relate to that.

What got me through those periods was reading other people's stories of how they found their way through it. Found their 'hope', if you like. Actually I couldn't read for a time (*chuckles) - so my mum would read stories to me, or I'd listen to audio books.

The stories that helped the most, were stories courageously told by people who were open and real enough to admit the big and scary things that had happened to them. Their bravery was so empathetic, so accepting and non judgmental. There was no stigma in it, just raw honesty.

It was a relief to hear I hadn't been the only person feeling that way. And I connected so strongly with the courage they showed by writing their inner most thoughts.

And so for a time, I lived on hope, borrowed from the pages of other people's stories.

And so, on the off chance my story could give someone hope - I've done my best to write it here as honestly as possible. With some funny stories thrown in to break the intensity, and to give context on who I am and the cheeky sh!t I get up to.

Putting my thoughts on paper is often scary, honestly.

Sometimes when I click "publish", or "send", my heart races. I have to catch my breath.

But truthfully, I have never felt regretful for allowing other people to read my thoughts. Not once.

If anything, I've been pleasantly surprised by some of the things that people have said in return. Not so much about the writing style, more about the content - and how they could relate or how it gave them hope or a new perspective.

It has easily been one of the most rewarding experiences of my life.

How does my writing process work?

My writing process varies depending on my subject matter. But broadly speaking, I first outline what it is I want to say. This is my 'message', if you like. I usually try to cushion it with some personal philosophy and a story or two. I am most receptive to ideas through hearing people's true stories, and so that is the process I've adopted.

I generally attempt to challenge my readers to adopt a different view point, or even just to see a different viewpoint - perhaps as an exercise in empathy, or spreading the love. And throughout my own life, I am always most engaged with a person or an idea when I am challenged. And so I carry this into my story telling in one form or another. Sometimes directly, other times subtly so (although...subtlety is not my forte).

Once I've outlined my message, or my story, and the challenge, I attempt to resolve it through clarification. I find it difficult to post anything without some sort of resolution for the reader - even if that resolution is simply acceptance of something that cannot be resolved. But this is as much for me as it is for the reader. It is difficult to resolve everything, and so often the challenge or message is scattered over multiple posts, with the resolution slowly growing or altering over time.


The final part of this post is to introduce you to one or two people who write, like I do.

But also, to point you towards a blog I read often. Eden Riley is a woman I do not know personally. But her stories are real. And I love reading her words. She is possibly the most courageous person in online writing land. Raw and honest. No bullsh!t. I love it.

And finally, my friend, Kate Moore (who is also participating in this sharing of the why).
Kate is passionate about life. She coaches others in work, life and health to master and love what they do, live intentionally, design the life they want, build a healthy lifestyle and feel at their best. You can find Kate over at Lift Coaching where she blogs about all things life, love, health, work, motivation, mastery, passion, values, gratitude and inspiration related. Kate takes a very practical and action-driven approach to … well, everything and loves helping others get ‘unstuck’ by identifying their personal strengths and using real life skills and tools to change habits and behaviour, and get people where they want to go. You can also find Kate on Facebook where she shares daily quotes, interesting reads, recipes, workouts and lots of other bits of pieces to brighten your day.

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