WHY I HAVE TO WRITE
What is your soul calling you to do that your ego is telling you you can't?
w o r d s
I am obsessed with words. ee cummings is my absolute favourite with Hugo Williams, Maya Angelou, Ted & Sylvia, Thom Gunn, Hugo Williams, Mary Oliver, Christina Rossetti, William Carlos Wiliams, Shakespeare, Elizabeth Gilbert, Markus Zusak, Rebecca Campbell…. erm…. messed that one up….. close joint seconds??
Ha! Language and literature make me hungry.
I evade it. Not the consumption of it. I will read in every spare moment. My bank awaiting knowledge and play will never be sated. More often that not I have up to 7 books open at once. But such is my tendency to disperse my energy that I have begun to narrow it down to one at a time - although two is more likely!
Writing is in me. Like a dance.
As a child I wrote freely. Easily. Joyfully. It was one of my favourite things. Stories were often mystical and meandering. I created magazines and painted my own book covers. I would get lost in writing screenplays for my Fabuland characters for hours.
And then the playing, the doing, the acting, the reenacting, the living, breathing, being of those characters took over.
I knew I wanted to be an actor from age 7 and from that point on writing took a back seat. At that age I couldn’t conceive of a concept of multiple disciplines. I hadn’t dropped it off back to its parents entirely but it wasn’t where I focused my energy.
It still supported me hugely as a teenager. I was studying Sylvia Plath at the time and her darkness validated my synonomous bleak experience, and led me back to the page where I too would scrawl strings of rhyme and depravity.
A family friend came to our house one evening and to my absolute horror, found one of my poems on the kitchen worktop that I must have accidentally abandoned. I didn’t hear of it then of course, only when he next visited and handed me the complete works of Gerard Manley Hopkins and told me to ‘keep writing’. I was 15 and mortified to have been so grossly exposed - the poem ‘Sitting in A Darkened Room’ was an incredibly personal exploration of my early depressions. But I did, quite secretly, keep writing.
Whilst auditioning for drama school - a solid 3 year effort - I worked as a copywriter. This withstands as one of the greatest and most joyful skill developing periods of my life and for which I will forever be indebted with gratitude. This is where I learnt about the structure, grace and simplicity of the English language. It was heaven to me. To someone who loves words.
My colleague was also a poet but not in secret, outside of work, in the REAL WORLD. He’d been published. He introduced me to ee cummings and we fell madly in love. Me and ee. Me and this amazing man too. It was magic. It was the first.
Then off I went to RADA and the words drifted. They were gone. I didn’t think of them again until I was stood on Primrose Hill in heartbreak, in the midst of my ever tempestuous relationship with the poet. I went home and scribbled fiendishly ‘I kicked the fungus to shreds on Primrose Hill’.
Those words meant a lot to me. At the time. They still do.
And as that relationship drunkenly stumbled to a deeply painful end, I grasped at words to find solace. They flowed again.
Then on my way to first professional acting job in Bristol, my kindly lift-giving mother and stepdad stopped for some petrol. Bearing in mind we were a good two hours out of London, who should appear but the family friend who pressed Manly Hopkins into my palm.
He spoke to my parents and then came over to me, as I waited in the car.
“Are you still writing?”
No "Hello Sian, How are you?" just straight in for the kill. But still, I was thrilled with his question. From the depths of my greasy haired, introverted adolescence, I had transformed into a fully Alexandered, vocally trained woman, who knew what love was and had been to RADA.
“I’m an actor. We’re on our way to Bristol for me to play one of the leads in an original production of the Noah story. It’s a dark retelling of the…….”
He couldn’t have given two flying f**ks. He sort of, walked off. Shaking his head. Staring into the middle distance. Then he swung back suddenly, to lean in conspiratorily:
And that was it.
And that was that.
So I did. I wrote my heart out. The pain of my breakup. The blame. The desperation. Poems mostly. Journaling too. The words flowed like water. It was therapy. It was also an energy within me that had been dormant for a long time needing to be let loose.
I started researching competitions - they seemed to be the best way to be recognised as a poet. I entered a mountain of them, got shortlisted and then to my utter amazement, published. Just one poem in a collection from the competition, but it was a big deal. To me.
And then lo and behold another big acting job landed and again the words were lost to drawers and shelves and ‘work in progress’ documents.
This time I neglected my lingustic pals for some years. They floated up occasionally in my next relationship but my partner wasn’t as intrigued with words as I was. This was when I began to realise what a fundamental part of my being words were. I started to respect words and to revere them. And thus the differences in my relationship grew farther as my investment in words drew nearer and it inevitably came to an end. Because of words. Communication too, yes. But also just because of words.
And then almost immediately, a man entered my life whose very soul was poetry. And he drew words from me I didn’t even know existed. I have never written as well as when I exchanged my vows and words of love with this man. It was whirlwind and brutal in its longevity and almost left me for dead, but the words stayed.
The support. The succour. The majesty. Stayed.
My soul was cracked open from the loss of him. It brought me to my knees.
I visited a retreat in Ireland to learn to meditate. I read Eat Pray Love and light flowed in.
I haven’t written any poetry since then but if I have ever dared to actively open my heart to writing opportunities, they have appeared.
In 2014 I spent the best Summer of my life, writing a commissioned screenplay.
You know when someone asks, what could you do all day and never tire of? Writing screenplays and script editing.
All. Day. Long.
I still didn’t take writing seriously.
It took Rebecca Campbell’s majestic Light Is The New Black to hold a mirror up to my 30 year evasion of this skill, this need, this soul desire to write.
50+ ideas for blogs scrawled.
A business context to justify publishing blogs.
It was only four weeks ago when the Soul Prompt in my Danielle Laporte Daily Planner begged the question: “How do you best express love?” and I read back ‘The written word’ in my own hand before I’d even finished reading the question, that I was like Ohhhhhhh. Which didn’t just make sense. It was like someone had asked me my name and I’d written Sian.
It has taken this competition, this close to the end, this very post… to get it.
But I do Universe. I GET IT.
I am compelled to share this with you because I believe in perfect timing. And although I have wept for the guilt I have felt in neglecting this practice I believe that only NOW was the divinely timed moment to make this beautiful discovery.
Whatever it is. Your own purpose. It will wait for you. Patiently. Forever if it has to.
Is it writing? Is it farming? Is it being?
In the writing of this post and observation of my story I have found the story.
You have one too. You are here to share it. In your own, unique way.
Nothing but, nothing but love.