Sept 2023: Healing My Writing Soul
A recently unlocked memory is of the day my O’ Level GCE results were read. The year was 2006, I had convinced my mom to let me go visit a friend who lived in Baffoussam. It was my first real trip away from home initiated by me. It helped that the said friend was our Senior prefect in school and hence they assumed she was a responsible friend LOL!
Anyway, when my results were made known to my family, a plethora of congratulatory calls came in. In the course of one such call, my aunty asked me the age-old question “So what do you want to be when you grow up?”
Monique opened her mouth and said ” I want to be a writer” LOL! Did I know what I was saying? I didn’t (ugh! I miss that hopeful naive me), I did however know that books were saving my sanity at that time. Books were giving me solace and places to escape and teaching me better about the world and other humans than my teachers… and so I wanted to be a writer, to create that escape for someone else. I have written about the development of myself as a writer elsewhere (see here) but that was before experiencing the Anglophone Crisis that helped me narrow down my writing voice and writing soul so-to-speak.
That was also way before multiple experiences made my writing voice, soul and dreams shrivel up to near death. Like most things, gifts don’t die suddenly nor all at once; they weather away. In 2020, I wrote a poem about no longer being able to write- it sounds ironical I know- but it was me perceiving and reporting the weathering. The loss that was already happening.
I wrote the above poems 3+ years into the Anglophone Crisis and 2+ years into a horrible ‘situationship’. Both experiences made me lose my faith in the power of words, my writing and writing in general. So many of my articles were on the Crisis and those who read them were not those who needed to, those who needed to read and be moved do not read. Similarly, so many of my poems were love poems for someone who read them but would still not be moved/understand enough to reciprocate, to love me back.
So I stopped writing. After all, I thought, what good was bleeding in words when the people just watched you bleed like it was a sport you enjoyed playing? And was I even writing ‘right’ if it didn’t move people to action if it didn’t reach the right ears/eyes, win the heart I yearned for? No, I thought. And so I stopped.
Several years later, I recognize that reaction as a trauma response and regret giving up my gift. Stopping had its consequences. That kind of thinking- that other people’s actions or inaction depended on how well I wrote or did not write- fed my already bad case of perfectionism. And so here I am with a book deal unable to write. Struggling to believe in the power of words again. Forcing myself to write blog posts even if they’re months late.
I’m praying for the gift to return, hoping its like riding a bicycle or swimming- a skill your body remembers.
This time, when I say “I want to be a writer”, I know what I’m talking about. I have a better ‘why’, so I pray the gift returns.