Writers often lament writer’s block and procrastination as colossal hurdles to a regular writing practice. While both hold a genuine place in the writers’ list of woes, it is my experience that nothing is a bigger enemy of the creative journey than ill-disposed mental health. One can create masterpieces in sorrow and carve out brilliant art in happiness but it is hard to get a grip on artistic pursuits when one is stressed or anxious.
Since mid-November 2022 until now I have been struggling – first with a long spell of flu that lasted for a month and a half. Then, somewhere during this difficult time, debilitating worry and paranoia found their way into my life. I was trapped in a maze of repetitive thoughts and stress-induced negativity. I tried many things to heal my mind but it was a lonely journey.
The biggest casualty of my mental ill-health was my poetry. I realize how delicate a device poetry is. It demands total dedication. A disrupted mental frame cannot do justice to the pursuits of the poet.
One of the tools recommended for mindfulness and healing is journaling. I do vouch for its benefits but that is a post for another day. What I discovered amidst these trials was that for me story writing is closer to journaling.
As my physical health gradually recovered after Christmas, I came across the Penfluenza 3.0 contest by WriteFluence. I decided to start writing because the theme of Ritual called out to me. Each day, I poured a lot of love and care into my draft. It slowly became a healthy diversion. My mind would be at ease at least in those crafting moments. The story itself was therapeutic.
My efforts were worthwhile because when the contest results were declared, I was glad to know that my short story was one of the winning entries. Today, I received a heartwarming message that the anthology that contains my short story is now available for purchase. Read about The Selection of a Sacred Strawberry.
Meanwhile, I tried to go back to my favorite daily activity of writing for poetry prompts. It didn’t happen. Thoughts arrived wrapped in imagery but the words wouldn’t manifest. I felt for my forsaken blog but when you are broken, you can’t create a piece that is as fragile as poetry. Short story, in my case, was the sturdier sibling of the poem!
This weekend, I returned to my blog to publish a book review. Some words formed and then they started to string together. I am not sure if I will be able to write frequently because unresolved issues still camp in my mind space. But I am trying – each day – to let go of what I cannot control and to get a grip on the things I can create.
As I try to recover, sharing what I wrote last night:
All through the days so cold
I wanted to write
But the words had died
Slithering away in a whirlpool
Of frantic anxiety;
When they knocked at my door
I struggled to make sense
Of the jumbled letters.
I stood at the threshold
Surrounded by the bellows of
Unrelenting stress and misery
I could barely stay afloat
Wallowing in fear and self-pity,
So, I shut them all out –
Now no one will ever know
The stories those words told!