Saturday, 9 June 2012

Love, grief, poetry

Hi everyone,

This post is about the difficult times in a writer's life. Everyone says, 'Oh, what a lovely job! Aren't you lucky?' but it takes so much grit and sheer determination that I don't think many people would keep it up - unless they'd been born into a wealthy family, with everyone in it in amazingly good health. That has not been my case. Many of you will know I was disabled for over a decade, with a simple thyroid problem, which took eight years to diagnose, and several more years for the dose of thyroxine to be regulated correctly. I was also a single parent, on benefits because of my illness, and had suffered minor brain injury which affected me in all sorts of strange little ways - primarily visually. I still regularly walk past people I know and don't recognise them - although I like to think I'm much better than I was.

So, this is me. A bit of a disaster, but also, a writer who has had a powerful sense of vocation from the age of three. (Yes, I had a light-bulb moment when I sat up in bed with excitement, knowing that THAT's what I'll do when I'm grown up!) Yes, sometimes it is heaven. You can disappear into worlds of your imagination. I regularly make myself laugh, and sometimes make myself cry. Well... just like in life really. Speaking of which...

Life this year has been a pig. I love life. I'm like Zorba the Greek, I sing and dance whatever life throws at me... or try to... but this year really has been one hell of a stinking pig. My sister was diagnosed with bowel cancer at Easter and is treating herself with vegetable juice and reflexology. (No, please don't comment...) I spent a month in a very dark place, and developed an extraordinary compulsion to go and sit near somebody who I guess I'd fallen in love with. It was the only way I could keep going, and I sat and wrote poetry because my mind just could not revert to the novel I was supposed to be writing ('Investigation: Haunted House', the children's novel to go with the play). The poetry wasn't particularly good but I experimented a lot and it must have helped my development as a poet. (I have published poetry fairly regularly over the years but I am really happy with only a handful of poems.) I also now have a lot of raw material... raw being the appropriate word for what was pouring out of me. It took huge self discipline to do anything at all. The absence of a workplace, which can be a perk of the job, became almost unbearable. I needed a place to go where I would see people I knew, who might feel at least a moderate affection for me.

I surfaced. I always bob back like a cork.This is the good thing about being a writer. You keep plodding on and suddenly you find that you have done something worthwhile, and created beauty and fun, as a result of pain. For that I would never never change my job, but, if I didn't have a sense of vocation I know I couldn't do it. It is not an easy option for anyone.

Love to all,

Pippa xx

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