I have always had a passion for the written word.
As a child, I was a bookworm in the truest sense. I could curl up for hours with a book, lost in worlds that allowed me to experience lives much different than my own. Sometimes those worlds were fictional — harbouring trolls and fairies and the like. Sometimes those worlds were real — allowing me a glimpse into the inner minds of others. I was whisked away to Nazi Germany or the Wild West or somewhere equally as captivating.
Written words allowed me to experience people and places that I had never dreamed of before. My imagination flourished and became a place of infinite possibility. As a young teenager, I began writing short stories of my own. I began to dream of being an author.
I was in high school when that fire was squelched and reduced to ash.
We were reading The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald. We were tasked with writing an essay on why Gatsby was great. As I mulled this over in my mind I felt no inspiration. I approached my teacher and asked if I could write the essay on why I thought Gatsby was not great. I even offered to write extra words to argue my point more clearly.
No. That was not the assignment. I was not allowed to think outside the teacher’s provided ‘box’. I was to fall in line with all the other students.
For the first time, I resented the written word. I became petulant. Books were deconstructed and debated to the point that I resented having to attend class. I had enjoyed reading because of the sheer pleasure it allowed, and the worlds I could explore. Debating the meaning of passages written three hundred years ago became an exercise I loathed. I grew to hate English class, and I knew that I could not follow my dream of becoming an author if it meant years of similar education to do so.
While I never stopped reading I did put down my pen and did not pick it back up for twenty-five years.
Those ashes smoldered for twenty-five years. Until the day I picked that pen back up (okay, fine, the keyboard) and began writing again. For the sheer pleasure of it. I was reintroduced to an outlet that I had forgotten I loved. I began writing for myself.
That writing became my first published book. My memoir, about my journey with postpartum depression after the birth of my son in 2007. The exercise was cathartic — allowing me to relive and work through moments that had haunted me for years.
The flame that was sparked in that exercise was small. It was driven, focused with laser-precision on the task at hand — publishing my memoir. I wanted to help others know that they are not alone. To tell them about my experience. To show that I had struggled with PPD and become successful despite mental illness. To help someone, anyone, to get through hard times. To help break the stigma around mental illness.
What came next was, in ways, much more exciting. The flame began to grow. I knew I wasn’t done writing. I didn’t know what was next but it was thrilling to not know! To realize that the only limit was my imagination!!
It was suggested that I consider blogging.
I had of course heard of blogs. They were not something I’d ever paid much mind to, and not something I’d ever sought out. What would I write about? Why would people care what I had to say? ‘That’s the beauty of a blog’, I was told, ‘There’s always someone interested’.
I wrote my first blog not knowing what I was doing. I didn’t know how long it should be, or how to be engaging. I struggled at first to come up with something witty or interesting. I quickly became frustrated.
It was too hard. There was too much self-imposed pressure.
I put the idea aside for a few days, allowing my mind time to relax. When I sat back down at my keyboard I refused to worry about what others would think. What kind of criticism my writing may incur.
I wrote one blog. Then another. Then another.
Like a phoenix, rising from the ashes, my fingers and mind were again flexing with creativity. I was writing with a passion that I felt deep in my heart. I was writing with a palpable authenticity. The sentence structure may have been questionable, the wording could have been better — but the passion behind the words was tangible.
It was like throwing gasoline on a fire. Suddenly, I was exploding with creativity. I let go of my fears, and finally prioritized the sheer joy that writing provided. Simply by sitting down and letting my heart speak. I wrote for myself.
If nothing else, by following my blog you will find authenticity and passion that is second to none. You may not agree with what I write about — and that’s okay! It’s okay to disagree — it’s what makes the world interesting!!
I have found new joy in my life. I have found an outlet that I didn’t know about before.
With it, I feel like I’ve come full circle. No matter what happens from here, the joy writing provides me is something I will never again allow to be squelched.
The phoenix has risen.
Until next time...................................... XO-JGF
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