For as long as I can remember people have told me that I could write.
My earliest memory is when my first grade teacher told my mom that I had a reading and writing ability beyond my years and that my stories were lovely.
I ignored those early cues.
I moved from England to South Africa and all I wanted to do was read. I was a fish out of water, and books were my solace. I didn’t so much love the stories as I did imagining the authors writing the stories.
I moved schools often. Friendships were difficult for me. I spoke with a funny English accent and my “ways were different”. There was no expat community, common in South Africa in the 70s, where I lived. Writing stories were my happy place.
When I was 10, I moved to my third school in three years. I wrote a poem and the next thing I knew I was being trotted from class to class to read my “incredible poem beyond her years”.
The following year, after a school sports day, I found myself in front of the school performing a one-person play I had written.
A couple of years later, I received a prize for English.
Still, I did not listen.
I went to high school where my English teacher displayed incredible patience with my teenage petulance, even allowing me to complete an entire page of an exam that I had somehow missed after the allotted time was up. He told my mom that I was his favourite student and didn’t mind “cutting me some slack”. He bragged about me, in front of me, to other teachers about how I was his next prodigy, about how my future in writing was assured.
I did not believe him.
I had no belief in myself at all. I did not believe the adults in my world.
But I constantly thought in story lines. No matter what happened to me, I was constantly thinking how it could be made into a story.
I left school and did not go to university to do a Bachelor of Art as everyone expected me to do. BA stood for Bugger All in our house. A degree in science was a much more noble pursuit.
During the first week, what is called O-week here in Australia, but what was called Rag Week in South Africa, in amongst the drinking and parties, we were required to attend various preliminary lectures. In one of them we had to complete a comprehension test in order to determine if we needed remedial essay writing assistance.
The university phoned my father to tell him that I am doing the wrong degree. I should be doing a Bachelor of Arts majoring in English they said. My father told me of the call and urged me to change degrees. Pride got in the way, I ignored the call.
For the next thirty years I would ignore the call. I would constantly think in story lines, but attempt to BE something else.
I would ignore the desperate need to write – write my thoughts, write my stories, write my life.
Depression crept in. My soul was sick. So sick in fact I thought I could no longer face the darkness this world had to offer me. I was not meant to live.
But then, early this year, at the insistence of my friend, I went to an Art Therapist. She immediately noticed that I don’t think in pictures, but in words. She noticed that words flow through me and from me with ease. She suggested a blog. A place to write without fear of rejection.
And so I blogged, and so I wrote.
My writing flowed through me and onto the screen. Often I have no idea where it is going to take me, always I feel joy.
My depression is lifting.
I am a newborn in this world of writing. A babe in her forties. A woman only starting to learn the journey of her craft. It is new, scary and exciting. I am alive.
I am listening universe.
I understand now that this is what I am meant to do. I understand now that you have been sending me those messages, blatant affirmations, from the time I was four years old. I am so sorry I didn’t listen, but I am listening now. And I cannot wait to find out what it is you have in store for me.