What did I take away from Blogfest 2015?
I arrived full of hope and desperate for inspiration… I left full of inspiration and desperate to write. Add to that a superdooper goodie bag and 8 glasses of House Wine by the Glass – (think I took the help yourself too literally.) And I think I can safely say that this was one of the best days i’d experienced in a long, long time. A day for me. And I don’t mean because I am a new mum and I enjoyed a day away from the baby – yes that was a bonus – what I mean was a day to be the true me again. The me that has passion and desire to be a writer. The me that used to aspire to be a journalist, to write, to publish a novel. I always used to have this feeling and I haven’t felt it for such a long time.
University was the best time of my life. I had the world at my feet but having graduated with a 2:1 in English Literature… I was a Jack of all trades, Master of none. Completing an MA in TV and Radio script writing is where my passion for writing was ignited.
Saturday’s Blogfest reminded me of the thrill and excitement that I used to feel every week when I drove home from my MA seminars. Sharp Writing and Big Ideas… exactly what I used to have. A reminder of the thrill of writing, brainstorming, pitching, sharing and being creative. I wanted it so much. I wrote and wrote and it brought me to life. But for 12 years that life has been suppressed.
In one of my very first blogs I wrote Those who can do; those who can’t teach? In this blog I reflected on why I hadn’t been writing. Why since I became a teacher had I forfeited my passion? Why did I stop do-ing? Here I defended my career as a teacher. I still stand by this… to a point. But I also have to agree with the statement Those who can do; those who can’t teach… I wanted to write. I used to enter short film competitions, I was shortlisted and had one-to-one sessions at Granada, I had scripts recommended to the BBC by my tutors. I was good. But I lost it. I lost my nerve, lost my passion and stopped doing.
As I sat in the session A Room of One’s own: Motherhood and Creativity and listened to Margaret Atwood, (who I wrote my dissertation on) speak about Motherhood and Creativity I wanted to stand up and shout out and exclaim my joy and excitement at just being there. My Sharp Writing and Big Ideas are back and it is all thanks to Motherhood. I am a mother and I am a writer. I am not a part time blogger. I don’t want to be a writer. I am a writer… just not a published one…yet.
I braved asking a question to the panel (sorry if I am one of those annoying people who hogged the mic – but actually I don’t really care!)
I asked author and actor Meera Syal, stand up comedian Bridget Christie, staunch feminist Polly Vernon and fellow blogger Catherine their advice on how to make sure that I carry on writing when I go back to work.
To quote Meera Syal… “Motherhood has given you your mojo back.” Yes. Motherhood has given me the the head space and ironically the time (albeit in the middle of the night) the time to think, to be creative and the desire to write. This blog was started when my baby was ten weeks old and was a turning point in not only my creativity but my experience of motherhood.
Looking back, I was clearly on the brink of Post Natal depression. Or maybe I was already there.
Coping with a new baby and dealing with the new me was the hardest thing I have ever dealt with. Hearing Meera Syal talk about the Punjabi belief of childbirth involving the birth of a new self, made me want to stand on my chair and whoop. YES. That is exactly how I felt. Not only was a new baby born. A new mother was born. And I didn’t have a fucking clue how to deal with her. The baby was fairly straight forward. But the new mother was a fuck up. I only knew how to live my ‘normal’ life so I just carried on and hoped the mum thing would just sort itself out. Which it didn’t.
Three weeks in I was desperate for my old self. The other half went on a stag do… leaving me alone. With the baby! And wine! I had never felt so much fear in all my life. My sister came one night, I went out for afternoon tea… but Saturday night I was alone. Reflux was ready for action and beginning to manoeuvre its way into our lives, but was an unknown enemy at that time.
She screamed. She was sick. She screamed. She didn’t poo. She screamed some more. I was at my whit’s end. So I drank two glasses of red wine and booked a £3000 holiday to the Dominican Republic. (A holiday that we have just accepted that we cannot afford and spent most of tonight looking at how much money we will lose to cancel it!) I have always been a traveller and so the single wanderlust in me took over and ignored the nagging doubts of the new mum. Of course a 10 hour flight would be fine, It would be amazing, we could afford it… urgh no we couldn’t!
Five weeks in and I was on the edge; but didn’t yet realise it. I went to my friend’s house for Bridesmaid duties and stayed over night. A break away from the baby was just what I needed. But I kind of forgot that I had one. It was too easy to leave her. Was I weird? On the way home the next day I sobbed all the way home. I was being led back to my prison cell. The nursery prison cell. My bed cell. I spent all night trying to sleep and then all day unable to sleep.
I sobbed. I looked at the baby and felt guilty that I hadn’t missed her. Wanted to run away. I wanted me back.
Two weeks later, after two weddings and a million visitors and a stupid amount of days trips with the seven year old in tow I sat on the beach and sobbed. The baby was seven weeks old. I was exhausted, delirious, desperate, happy and miserable. All at the same time. I sat on the beach and sobbed and sobbed. My head was dark. The sun was shining but it was dark. My robotic experience of motherhood was not what i’d hoped for. The monotony of nappies, bottles, sick, poo, no poo, sick was all consuming. Days ran into one and other. I was miserably happy. Lying to other people, to myself. Creating a facade of happiness on Facebook. Pushing people away and feeling alone. Isolated but claustrophobic. And now it makes sense. Was it PND or was it just me getting to know this new person? Learning to accept my mother self?
Amy Ransom (who I had the pleasure to meet at Blogfest) from Surviving Life and Motherhood actually saved my life. At the turn of Week 8, I sat in my Nursery cell and couldn’t see a way out. My boyfriend (in my then darkened mind) had abandoned me to go to sleep; leaving me alone to fight another night of reflux pain. I was awakened by reading her article The Fourth Trimester. It saved my motherhood life. Those words gave me the wake up and realisation that I needed – to accept that I was a Mum. That life had changed, I had changed and my new self had been born. I had been nurturing the baby but hadn’t been nurturing myself. This had to change.
So this is what I took away from Blogfest. (Along with a lot of wine)
Motherhood has allowed me to be reborn creatively and my new self is alive in a way that I haven’t been for a very long time. Yes, I am on anti-depressants and I am not ashamed to admit that, but the best therapy of all has been this blog. Every word I type is medicinal and every sentence heals the wounds that I’ve inflicted on myself in the past through not writing.
I left Blogfest happy in the knowledge that Motherhood and Creativity are my soul mates and will I will nurture them both with the sensitivity and passion that they equally deserve.
Thank you Blogfest. You reminded me of something that I already knew… I do have Sharp Writing and Big Ideas and I will ensure that I never forget that again.
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