I’ve been writing since I was little. Always writing stories, (even making books) journal entries, songs, poems, everything. I always thought I started writing poetry when I was around 16 (in 2015), but then I discovered an old notebook that I wrote in between age 8 and 11 and rediscovered everything I used to write. Most of it was silly poems I’d write with mum or songs I’d write with my brother, often about the characters we’d made out of our stuffed animals, or various other events of significance like Easter or Christmas. But the first thing I wrote that somewhat resembles what I create today is when I was about 11 years old.
I believe that I can succeed
Just so long as I try
I believe I will proceed
And I won’t go off and cry.
All I need is confidence
To do what I think is right
Trying is my first preference
I won’t put up a fight.
Don’t say that I can’t
Do not doubt what I can do
Because I will prove you wrong
You know I can surprise you.
Funnily enough, I have no recollection of writing this at all. I wonder what made me write it. It’s very similar to what I write nowadays (despite the fact that I’ve improved a lot (I hope)), regarding format and subject matter which is so interesting to me because it almost gives me an insight into the origins of my love for writing. It’s peculiar to see parts of myself in my past self that I didn’t really know existed, and I almost admire the me who wrote this poem, as that attitude is something I still try to carry with me today.
I think 2015 was the year I really started discovering who I was as a person. Once I rediscovered my love of writing, specifically poetry, it felt like I’d found a part of myself I’d lost. I didn’t write at all from about age 12 to 15, apart from school assignments and the odd failed attempt at a diary, in fact I’d pretty much forgotten that I ever did. Then I was given an assignment to write a sonnet and I seemed far more enthused about it than other people in the class, probably just because it was something more creative rather than just analysis. I called it ‘The Path Ahead”.
As I look ahead, all I see is mist.
My dreams swirling around each other,
But when I move forward, the fog desists
And all my surroundings, I uncover.
The path stretching behind me breaks away
Falling, falling, now a part of the past.
I only move forward, never astray
Many obstacles, briefly unsurpassed
Those I overcome, so I can ascend
And unless I act, they do not disappear.
Eventually, approaches a dead end
What is to become of me now is clear.
Now shrouded in the fog, I can’t subsist,
Just a memory to be dearly missed.
I remember being so incredibly proud of this poem, especially the last two lines, and even though I hated public speaking, I couldn’t wait to present it and share it with the class. I didn’t necessarily like the format of the sonnet that much, but the process of writing just felt so natural for me, and in an instant it became another channel for my creativity. I started having ideas for more things I wanted to write and it became a place for me to put all my thoughts that I felt I couldn’t otherwise express.
The very first poem I wrote that kickstarted my creative flow of writing was called ‘What will she become?’ and it is in fact here on my blog. If you read a lot of my earlier poems, they’re quite depressing because starting out I found it a lot easier to write about sad things, and when I was in a dark place or feeling down, I would write. It was my escape, my safe haven. Over time, I grew to learn how to write about happier things, or about love, and I learned to write when I was happy as well as when I was sad. I would write all the time. It wasn’t always poetry, but it was always something. I just couldn’t stop writing. Words flowed through me constantly. My words would often come to me in the middle of the night so I kept a notebook by my bed at all times. I would sometimes write 10 or more poems per night. They weren’t always good but they were there. Writing made me feel alive and it made me feel… like me. Finding my creative flow was the beginning of the becoming of me.
For quite a while I didn’t tell anyone about my writing, and I didn’t share it. I couldn’t imagine sharing it. I was scared, I think, and worried. My poems were such a strong and deep part of me, and it wasn’t something I was willing to just throw out into the world. I also think I didn’t see poetry as something that would be widely accepted as an art form. If ever we studied poetry in class, everyone would complain and groan about it, while I was very excited, and I was concerned that my poems would be received in the same way.
I created this blog in May 2016, because I didn’t see the point in creating things I was proud of and keeping them to myself. I figured a blog would be the best platform, rather than Facebook, Instagram or similar, as the idea of strangers reading my writing was somehow less daunting than having people I knew read it. Even as I started to share my work, I was scared of being thought of negatively because I wrote poetry, and I was mocked about it a couple of times, by one of my closest friends. He always said it was just banter and our other banter never bothered me, but somehow this did. Because my writing meant something to me. It meant a lot. I’d worked hard on it and to share it at this particular time, took a lot of courage, so it hurt. Even more so because it came from a friend. However, I think this actually pushed me to write even more and to share my work more, so as to ‘prove him wrong’ or show him that it could be something. And, well, he ended up buying my book (mostly just to be a supportive friend but that doesn’t matter).
Over time I have become less scared to share my writing, as it has all become a part of the process. I realised that no one really thought any differently of me in knowing how I choose to express myself, so I deemed all my aforementioned fears completely irrational. I think poetry has become a lot more accessible in the modern day. I watched a documentary on Youtube the other day called #poetry by Ariel Bisset, which perfectly described everything I could hope to say about Instagram poetry making the art form more accessible and relatable. Poetry isn’t just a luxury to be consumed by intellectuals, there is something for every person to enjoy and understand. Since Rupi Kaur’s Milk and Honey, which sold over 3.5 million copies, ‘modern’ poetry and Instagram poetry has been on the rise. With such an open, accessible and wide community of poets, it has made it so much easier for me to feel accepted and welcomed as a young writer. Sharing my work is no longer something I have to question, but something that comes naturally, and it feels wonderful to have something to contribute.
I sometimes wonder whether I’ve become less attached to my writing, in knowing it will be shared. Do I write hesitantly or less personally, knowing it will be read by others? Do I write to share or do I still write for me? I do hesitate to share some of my favourite poems, as they are often more personal, because I know it will be making myself vulnerable, or because I know specific people will read them. It concerns me that I may write differently depending on my intention for the finished poem. Will it sit in my notebook for all of eternity or will I share it? I don’t like to think that I am not giving my entire heart and soul to something, just because I’m afraid others will read it and see a part of me I seldom reveal. In publishing my poetry collections, I have somewhat overcome this fear, as it is a way to incorporate these more personal pieces in amongst others. Consequently, all the attention isn’t on that one singular poem as it would be in a blog post, which really shouldn’t make a lot of difference to the impact of the poem on those who read it, but it is an easier way for me to tackle my vulnerabilities.
I’ve written several hundred poems and two poetry collections in the space of three – four years, yet I’ve never called myself a writer. I’m studying to be an illustrator, so I’ve always considered myself a ‘budding artist’ in a sense, but always referring to the visual side of things. From a young age I showed interest in drawing and excelled in art class from about age 10. I’d always had equal interest in writing, yet it had somehow been ignored. I have at least 5 notebooks on the go at once, each containing something different, yet I don’t call myself a writer. At the end of 2018 I had almost 600 iPhone notes with ideas and poems and various musings, that had been collected since the beginning of the year, yet I don’t call myself a writer. At the root of everything, I am a writer. I can go a month without drawing something and it won’t have effected me. Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely love drawing, painting, photography and other forms of visual art, but if I go a while without writing, I feel so lost. Like I completely lose my sense of self. There was a time recently when I had this overwhelming feeling of ‘I don’t know who I am’. Then the other week, I suddenly found inspiration and started writing again. It was as if I snapped out of trance… ‘that’s what was wrong!’ Writing is how I express everything inside of me. It’s how I express who I am. So I’ve come to discover that regardless of anything that might try to tell me I’m not…
I’m a writer. Because I’m not me when I’m not writing.