I sat in a café today fighting back tears yet staring determinedly at my computer screen. Part of me wanted to run away while the other part thought, no, I have to do this.
I’d begun pulling my poetry collection together and as I began revisiting each piece, one by one, all the emotions they held rose up again within me.
A year a two ago, I found myself working on the same floor as a specialist I had first met in my 20s. As a man with a curious and active mind, who remembered me from way back then, he was keen to read my book as soon as I mentioned it. I still remember the look on his face afterwards. He looked at me intently and said, “It must have been very difficult to write a lot that.”
I nodded and said, “Yes. Yes it was.”
When you’re a memoirist and you write from real life, your life, it’s extraordinarily difficult to hide from yourself and the experiences of your past. You must look at yourself, study where you have been, unpick the threads of your life, then somehow sew them back together.
It’s not an easy journey to undertake. It’s often emotionally challenging. When you write about yourself, you cannot hide from yourself. This is why I frequently use journaling activities with my mentoring clients – what better way to uncover your true desires than to pick up a pen and begin recording your brutal self-honesty in writing.
Just like my first book, my poetry collection is autobiographical and traverses my relationship landscape with all its pain, heartbreaks and disappointments. There is a little humour in there too and this time, I also begin exploring the complicating influence of being psychic.
I’ve found that being highly intuitive can work for and against me in romantic relationships. Yes, it may provide an extra level of insight about the person you are interested in but on the other hand, when your emotions are involved, your ability to easily to discern between your intuition and what your heart would like to happen can fly out the window. Factors like soul contracts and past life connections (or past life hangovers as I call them) can also mess with your head, a lot.
I am not one of those women who can put her emotions in a box. In truth, writing my first book was very much like my own personal version of therapy. It was only through writing about my experiences, editing it then revisiting it again, that I was able to finally clear a lot of debris from my psyche. With the birthing of that book I was able to step back and see where I had learned the lessons I needed to learn, and then let the rest go.
I find that my poetry is far more raw than my prose. It always knows what it wants to be when it arrives. It has a clear intention and energy of its own. Once written I can only change a word here or tweak a phrase there. Further self-indulgent editing inevitably destroys the life of the piece leaving it a bedraggled and shallow version of its former self. So I leave most of the words as they arrive.
The memories in my poetry are vivid. They are unavoidable and, judging by my emotional response today, I still have a lot to process about their contents. Two hours was about all I could manage today before I needed a break. But I am going to persevere. There are other books waiting to be finished and released.
Interestingly the themes of relationships, love, and energetic connections are increasingly showing themselves in my work. I guess my Muse is determined that I learn the lessons that are being delivered to me and I continue to be her reluctant yet committed pupil.
I’m not a very consistent writer. I never have been. To sit down and write at the same time every day doesn’t come naturally to me. Whether I’m working on a book, drafting a blog or creating copy for a client, there are times when the words will not come no matter how long I stare at the computer screen. I can find myself writing, then rewriting the same sentence to no avail. It will still be crap until I finally abandon the exercise and stomp off to another part of the house, muttering with frustration.
But there will be times when the ideas simply flow through me and onto the pages so quickly there is almost a word pile-up as my fingers struggle to keep up. That’s when I am thankful for the strict edicts of my year 10 typing teacher Miss Dunn who taught me to touch-type on an electric typewriter back in the 80s – yes, I am that old.
Those times of natural creative flow are so effortless and when it’s done, I always know it is good. Or at least, it meets my own exacting standards of good.
My Muse is annoyingly elusive though and can disappear for hours, days or weeks. But she has vehemently demanded my attention when I’ve been in the throes of abject misery – recovering from heartbreak or struggling with anxiety and despair. She often thrives in those environments of emotional turmoil and my creativity can feel almost uncontrollable. I once felt her call every night for a few short months. More than 200 poems, some several pages long, were the result.
A colleague once showed me pictures of the huge, beautiful canvasses she would paint when depressed. “When I’m happy, I can’t paint a thing,” she said. A lot of artists will tell you their creativity thrives when they are in emotional pain. Perhaps that is the Universe’s way of giving us a helping hand in difficult times – giving us something to cling to as we ride the glutenous seas around us and try desperately not to drown in the darkness.
Pain has certainly sparked my creativity many times but living a life that is inspiring has done the same. I can remember years ago, leaving my Monday night university class where I taught a bunch of smart, eager students who couldn’t wait to learn, travelling home, walking in my front door, grabbing my laptop then hurrying out to my back deck where I would write a blog in 20 minutes or less. The energy of my students was so inspiring that my Muse was jumping with joy.
Over the last few weeks I have started to hear the whisper of the Muse in my ear once again. I was afraid she had died or disappeared forever. I’m thankful she has not.
Half-formed ideas now occasionally bob to the surface of my consciousness before disappearing once more. But knowing they are there, is enough to make me feel hopeful that the creative tap is beginning to drip.
I am not struggling with despair but I am consciously seeking out the inspirations of books and art and passionate conversations. Perhaps this shift has heralded the Muse’s return? Only time will tell.
In the back of my first book The Men I’ve Almost Dated, I included some poems from my next book, The Madness of Love. The poetry collection is best described as an enticing concoction of reality, fantasy and other-worldly insight. It asks the reader to find the line between madness and love. I’m now curating those poems for publication. Here is another one entitled Egg on Her Face. Can you relate?
Focus on the feelings you felt, she said Not the man you know who gave them But when I did all I could do Is think of the man who raised them
I realised then The drama created Was always derived from me My expectations of being trampled on Let my fear run away with me.
All I wished for now it seemed Was his stillness and his light The feeling that all was well Of calmness with no strife
His air, just present His eyes so kind And frequently warmly smiling While making me laugh I’ve never felt so torn As I do now When I think back And realise what I’ve done I helped create the current stance In fact, I loaded the gun
He had played his part It’s true He had driven it home But I, oh God I couldn’t believe Just what my fear had done All was well Until I lost My way and all perspective And then all he and I could do Was drown in the invective As we rocked from side to side Carried on unsteady waves Of fear, anxiety, never confidence I behaved just like a babe
He had called me so naïve Was that for trusting him But perhaps my real issue Was actually me, not him
He had turned away from me Because I did not stand I had not yet put myself first Fear had the upper hand I did not stand in my power I was quite simply Just all over the place The thought that I had caused him pain Simply left me with egg on my face.
The brick wall was coated with Teflon It stood there staring back Everything she threw at it It just kept sliding back
So she walked around the side To see what she could see But all she could see was more Teflon As far as the eye could see
Eventually she lay down And stared up at the sky The Teflon shadow stretching over her There was nothing else that she could try To shift the weight It pinned her down She was gasping her last breath Or so she thought Then something moved And she got up instead
She knew there were cracks Not far inside That Teflon-covered wall But it wasn’t up to her to budge it It wasn’t up to her at all
She put on her hat She put on her shoes And left her calling card Well actually truth be told She left more than several cards She stuck her cards With super glue All over that God-damn wall Those cards they stuck Didn’t even move in the breeze They weren’t going anywhere at all And every time She passed by She simply stuck on another That God-damn wall would have to collapse She wasn’t giving up No she wasn’t, my brother
But that wall Was fucking determined It liked the safety of Teflon But she didn’t care About any of that She didn’t care about the Teflon She’d keep leaving Her calling card It was printed in colours of light That wall it didn’t stand a chance Against all that beautiful light
Eventually the Teflon would be consumed By the light of those sweet cards The black would fade To leave all the cracks All the indelible scars
She would run her fingers through them All those faulty lines She would reach deep within Or maybe not Who could surmise What would happen When the Teflon left And revealed all that was hidden So much love So well-protected So hidden from normal vision
Perhaps she would just know it was there As days turned weeks turned months Her life expanding And then contracting Seeking always love
But walls are harsh So very hard Wiser ones would say But it’s the cracks that lie deep within I love them she would say
Life is full of faults and pain And some use that Teflon To repel all other advances They prefer to keep it on And that is fine To be sure There’s nothing wrong with that Although perhaps there is actually Something profoundly wrong with that Imagine if they moved the black Moved that dark Teflon And instead they let the light flood in All the darkness could be gone
What did she know Anyway About anything, any of that All the plain eye could see Was Teflon staring back
But she would keep leaving her calling cards That glue was really strong Was the Teflon stronger She wondered As she kept on, keeping on
She didn’t know Maybe she was wrong To believe in any of that Maybe she was wrong To believe The darkness was merely an act
Fanciful flights Circling her brain They flew straight to her heart She was happy right then To let them fly The light still filled her heart