#NaNoWriMo2016 Day 8:

I know that it’s not for every writer, every year, but I am loving this NaNoWriMo business and I am thankful that my story is just flying out of me. It is just working for me in the here and now. I also love the style of writing that I have chosen for this book which is not something that I am hugely familiar with.

Basically a few months ago I was asked to write a chapter for a book that was going to be published next year. They only needed a single chapter from me, a single piece of my story without any need for context, characters or details that would complicate things. They just wanted my experience in it’s most raw form. As is (or as it was).

This was a new way of writing for me, but it really opened something up in me as I was able to ignore everything but the experience itself without having to explain anything. I wrote in the first person for the first time ever which is very differently to how I usually write. I was so chuffed with the outcome and I am very proud of it, but before I could send it in the project was cancelled. I was so disappointed as it was a fabulous opportunity for me to get my work and my name out there and it would have been my first published work. But at the same time I was pleased that I hadn’t already sent it in so that someone else had it and without a book!

So as I was pondering on how to find another similar project as it was so specific, it dawned on me that I could actually write a whole series of similar stories about my journey with my condition. Instead of expelling a whole bunch of details and a long boring story, I could simply write it as a series of essays that take the reader deep into my experiences on my journey. It doesn’t really matter who was there and who wasn’t. It doesn’t matter how the medical system of the time worked or why we were in the particular country that we were at the time.

All that matters really is how I felt and what I went through. I could list all the things that happened to me or I can write a much shorter list and go much deeper into those experience. I can take the reader deep into my most significant and interesting experiences so that they know how I felt and how scary it was for me.

My condition is multifaceted and the way that I was often treated varied massively from those specialists and doctors who tried to leave no stone unturned, those who apparently just couldn’t be bothered and to the other end of the scale where they were not only neglectful but on occasion abusive and took advantage of me.

Screen Shot 2016-07-11 at 8.04.50 PMI love the saying that “Writing is easy, all you do is sit down at the typewriter and bleed!” There is so much meaning in that for me. It shows how costly writing is emotionally and that it is actually really hard. But what I find harder is to sit down and write something about which I know nothing. I find that if I sit down and spill my guts and tell my own story, it just pours out of me. The writing is the easy bit, but it hurts my heart and soul.

The Joan of Arc in me…

img_3986-1As most of you already know or have worked out, I am writing my story of my life and my abandonment and abuse, as well as all the many things that I have learnt and am learning along the way. I see a brilliant doctor at the moment and she is the best Psychologist that I have ever had. We see her together sometimes too, and he sees someone else as well. It sounds complicated but it isn’t really, …. we each grew up in deeply confusing and abusive situations and as a consequence we came together in an extremely cliched way… drawn together in our pain and as bad for each other as it gets… the worst combination. But we didn’t know that, and our love for each other, our faith, a gazillion life altering mistakes and a hell of a lot of hard work means that we are at last now breaking the chains that have bound us all our lives …and we are winning. As individuals and as a couple.

I cannot explain to you how proud I am of each of us in completely different ways. In the next few months we are going to be delving into the hard stuff and I will be writing about much of it. It is painful and it is hard, and all the people who broke me were without fail the exact same people who were supposed to love me and protect me, not break me and abandon me and crush my heart soul and spirit…

So today DrA and I discussed the upcoming topics and she lovingly hit me with one of her doozies; one of those comments that for her are probably par for the course, but for me are life changing in ways that are hard to explain…

Today she told me that we need to be careful with me going ahead, that she is worried about me being hurt by the process, and that we need to keep on top of keeping me safe. She said that over the two years that I have been with her, (that’s nearly 100 sessions alone, wow!!!!) she has come to this conclusion. She told me this:

“Because of what happened to you as a child, because it was such an injustice, the little girl became a warrior. A warrior for righteousness and justice and principals.

….It was the only way that she could find a voice, it meant that she survived.

….She became a very effective warrior and she is very accurate. She speaks truth and she stands up for people and against wrong. She became Joan of Arc. A young woman with a passion and an empathy for the downtrodden. I can’t fault her, Joan was wonderful, an amazing warrior … and you Jenn, you are a great Joan.

….But the problem with warriors is that nobody can see the broken damaged person underneath, and worse than that, …warriors get killed !!!

….Do you want to fight for justice or to be seen and heard? You can’t have both at the same time… “

I am feeling so many mixed emotions. There is something hugely complimentary about being compared to someone like Joan of Arc. But more than that there is also something extremely validating about the things that she described in me… but I’m not quite sure that I’m super excited about being burnt at the stake!

Why Read?

The more I have wanted to write, the more I have wanted to read! I have always loved reading,

….but when I started writing my own abuse story for myself, I stopped reading anything else because I wanted my voice to be only my own. I was scared that I would “accidentally” steal or borrow from someone else, and I wanted to be able to say everything that I needed to say and know that it was from my own heart and soul, even if someone else had a similar experience (which I have no doubt many have). And so I stopped reading altogether for a season.

But then I needed a break. I was having nightmares and really struggling with some of the things that I was writing and so I took some time out to read a book that I found lying around and had no idea what it was about…. it was Alexander Fuller’s “Let’s Not Go to the Dog’s Tonight” and I drank in every word. My story is nothing like hers but having grown up in the same era and in the same corner of the globe there was much that I could relate to.

At the moment I am reading Rachel Thompson’s “Broken Pieces” which is completely different to Fuller’s writings but I am soaking in every word of this book too.

Neither of these are my stories, they are their’s alone, so how and why are they good for me? Because they give me permission. When I started writing my story, I wanted it to be pure and raw and “as is”, but I also knew that I had to fit in to a “standard length” novel, and to write it in a way that people will want to read and understand. Which for me was a certain box that I can’t quite explain. But now that I am reading the works of others that inspire me, they have give me permission to be more of myself and less of that “box”.

Far from restricting my own voice, they are setting it free!

Fuller gave me permission to not have to cram my whole story into one book. To stop my story at a really obvious point, and then to move onto a new book for the next part. Thompson has given me permission to describe feelings even if they didn’t make sense to me then or make sense to everyone else now.

Both writers have given me permission to write my story “as is” without justifying anything or having to explain it so that the reader believes me. Neither of these writers judges anyone, themselves included. They state their experiences and simply leave it at that…

There are many other writers who have put words to my feelings, feelings that have been bottled up for decades but without a voice I had no idea how to describe them or what to do with them. They are still my own, but I needed to isolate them in order to deal with them, and deal with them in order to start healing. Then I could start telling my own story, and use my own words that I learnt to find.