Seven years ago, I decided I was going to write. Before that, there was confusion. There were things I thought I wanted to do, things that I tried, in the name of getting experience. I tried working for charity research, in administration, and within another charity before I decided I was going back to University to study a Women’s Studies MA. Nothing was wrong at all with the work I had tried, and I feel thankful that I was given those opportunities. But part of me was always looking for a challenge – mentally and emotionally. I felt as if something was unresolved and hidden within that needed exploring. One way or another, I wanted to do something in a direct way to contribute to the world, to pull out whatever was hiding away inside. Like many people in their twenties at the time (and now) I felt stuck and overwhelmed with which direction to go in. I didn’t know what I wanted to do.
The research I did as part of the MA gave me the chance to look closely at my own and other women’s deaf identities. A large part of women’s studies research is about inserting yourself into the dialogue – the idea that we are co-opting the ‘objective’ establishment that values detachment in research. Nothing is objective. I chose to focus on asking deaf women to tell me their autobiographical accounts of their experiences as deaf and as women. I’m not sure what happened, but at some point in the process of writing and analysing the thesis, I fell right back in love with writing again. I was sure this was what I wanted to do: write. And somehow make a living from it. It filled me with joy to acknowledge this about myself. It was the first thing I had been certain of in terms of my career. I knew it was going to be rocky and tough, but I felt it was worth persevering with.
Seven years later and I’ve finally decided to get out of my own way and bring the magic out of myself. Admittedly, even though I knew it was going to be tough, I didn’t realise just how much life would push me around and how much soul-searching and growing I would need to do until I could access my own writing voice. This blog has been crucial in that process. This blog is nine years old. I figured out I wanted to write eight years ago. You might find if you explore my archives just how many setbacks and slumps I’ve gone through. I didn’t know how to write and get my work out there until recently – following a number of writers and creatives who self publish and make their living through different streams of income has helped me to see how possible it is in this day and age to make a living being creative.
I turned 30 two years ago. I’m going to be 32 in December, and I’m only just starting to work things out. I’d be the first to admit that maybe I could have written and already published something before now. Yet sometimes things have a way of telling you when they’re ready to come alive. Maybe I wasn’t ready. Something’s changed this year – even within the heartache and the painful growing, I feel a little stronger and I’ve been writing my heart out into this first book. I don’t think it will be the best book I’ll ever write, and it won’t be perfect, but if you like reading my essays and blog posts, I hope you’ll like it. I’m dedicating it to two wonderful women, my Granny Mary, and her cousin Marjorie, who both wanted to read my first book and never got to.
It takes a kind of Herculean perseverance and inner courage to keep writing in the face of dark things. When the light seems dim and the only way out is to write, you have to keep going. The alchemy is in making something from nothing. A magic trick, making light from darkness. I believe we all have that magic waiting to be explored and nurtured within ourselves. It takes time, like all beautiful things do.
‘The universe buries strange jewels deep within us all, and then stands back to see if we can find them.’ – Elizabeth Gilbert, Big Magic.