I am taking part in this challenge http://lynthurman.com/writing-wisdom-soul/ and have spent the past two hours coming up with every excuse I can to NOT blog today. But the inner me, the one with all the sass has been bending my ear and I haven’t been able to get a moment’s peace, so here goes.
When I was a child at school we were often asked what we wanted to be when we grew up, that was kind of hard for me to answer as ever since the very first Star Wars movie came out I have wanted to be a Jedi Knight. I used to hide behind answers such as singer, actress, hairdresser, these were answers that seemed to satisfy both my peers and my teachers alike, so I must have uttered those words with enough conviction.
The whole high school gig was sheer hell for me. Up until the age of 14 I was a total geek, excelling in languages and my dream career focus had shifted to either a flight attendant or an interpreter. But by the age of 14 my attitude changed. I was so sick of being tormented by the popular kids for being such a nerd that I went off the rails completely. I left school with the bare minimum in qualifications and all my hopes and aspirations had been left back in what is now termed as year 9 here in the UK.
My life was a jumble of stupid choices, bad decisions, mixed with marriage and motherhood all before I was 20 years old. Back in the very early 90’s here in the UK there was not an awful lot to do late at night and during the night when the baby was needing me to see to her. This meant I ended up reading whatever I could get my hands on. My Grandmother was always getting bags full of Mills and Boon/Harlequin romance novels and I soon began to read those to occupy my time. I read that many I began to invent stories in my head, following the format of this genre. Eventually I got a computer and set about writing my own Mills and Boon. I never had the courage to actually send any off, I had disk drives full of these potential stories and just could not do anything about them. But then sassy me decided to send a manuscript off in late 2002. This was not really a good time in my life, my husband had been given just a few months to live unless he had surgery to repair a faulty heart valve. My days of writing came to an end in order to care for him.
Eventually life settled back down again and I began writing once more. My first ever submission had been rejected, but back then I really didn’t care; my husband was gravely ill and needed me more, so it was easy for me to give up on my cherished dream of becoming a published writer. But the sassy me was itching for me to get back at it, the sassy me can be read about in another blog post on this blog, entitled Sweet Sixteen. That version of me is so much fiercer, so much braver, does not let anyone or anything hold her back. Someone tried to silence her but she is still in there, somewhere, clamoring for attention and to be let out into the world. She would take a hold of life, you know, the life I dream of, yank it by the scruff of the neck and grab a hold of it for herself. She would write and submit manuscripts and if they were rejected she would write some more and send more out, just until some publisher accepted. She is certainly not afraid to write and live her life how she wants it.
But if she is me and I am she, then how come I am so afraid to just send any more of my manuscripts off?
She isn’t afraid to say, “look, I know I an write a damn fine Mills and Boon, as well as anything else”, so why am I afraid to just send my writing out?
Rejection, that is why.
To understand this part of me completely, you have to know why that brashy, sassy 16 year old who knew she could conquer the world is buried underneath/inside the now me. That brave and beautiful young woman was attacked in August 1987 – 3 months after leaving school. A cruel, sick, perverted monster grabbed her from behind, held a knife to her throat – and boy was she terrified – and then dragged her down a river bank and raped her.
Gone was the super cool, super confident, bright young woman who was on track to take the world by storm. In her place was an emotional wreck. But with the right help sassy lady was beginning to stir – even if it did take another 16 years for her to heal. She was angry, she was hurt and she had turned all of that negative emotion in on herself and it had almost destroyed her.
The me you get today is a combination of the me that existed before and the me that rose from the flames. It took me a good few years to let the two sides of myself merge and usually my newer me would win over. I could not submit a manuscript because rejection would hurt and I have dealt with enough hurt and pain and humiliation to last me a lifetime and then some. So the excuses and family dramas were perfect for me to hide behind. I have chronic illnesses too and it was just so darn easy to say someone like me would not get my stories published.
But the sassy lady is having none of it. She is resurfacing more with each passing day and more and more writing gets done. Sadly those stories I had saved on my good ol’ floppy discs got damaged, so I have had to start again. Not everything is at that stage where submissions can be made – there is one that is sort of ready, but that is an explosive story that may never get published as it could hurt a few people close to me. Sassy lady thinks it could be a good un’ whereas the more reserved me worries about the fallout.
This post has been about the journey that has led me to this point, the here and now. The writing challenge is all about baring our souls, letting the facade fall away and the real us being allowed to surface. This is really hard for me, I am such a private person and not many people outside of my very close family and a couple of friends actually know the real me. The person who knows me really well, the person who sees the hurt and the fear and the shame I still feel now, is my husband and only him. My kids joke how I do not have emotions, it does feel that way sometimes. Being attacked hurt me to my very core. Unless you have been a victim of a sexual crime you cannot understand the utter disgust you feel at yourself. That kind of emotional scarring takes years to heal and I had to in effect turn my emotions off for a long time to actually carry on. I rarely cry because I convinced myself when I was 17 that crying meant that piece of filth had won. So I developed a way to zone everything out and kind of just exist on auto pilot so that nothing touched me on an emotional level. I still do it now.
But fear of rejection managed to break through my carefully constructed walls and prevented me from living my dream. But I had a breakthrough earlier this year. I let the two parts of me merge and now I refuse to be held back anymore. I WILL write those Mills and Boon books. I WILL write every story that has been circulating around my creative mind for so long now. I WILL submit until I am accepted and then I WILL write some more.
Living my dream begins NOW!!!