Part of our identity and our abilities may be hidden away like treasures at the bottom of the sea until we are forced to find them.
Tobi Zausner – When Walls Become Doorways
This morning I woke up thinking about writing. How writing has come into my life because of illness.
Friends have been telling me that I always wrote descriptive and funny letters – you know the kind that arrived in the post. Anyway, writing in this changed life, is like having found that hidden treasure, as quoted by Tobi Zausner in her book When Walls become Doorways. It was part of my identity, but it was hidden.
Writing started by following The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron, back in 1997. However, in the early months of illness (1998) I was unable to write. When regaining that ability a year later, I wrote, and wrote, and wrote whenever I could. (Again using Julia Cameron as my guide). And even when it seemed impossible to write, I still wrote.
There were days when I was in so much pain and was stuck to the bed, unable to even sit up. But I would have my notepad and fountain pen (the only pen I can write with, because of its easy flow and no pressure needed to write), beside me and I let my pen move over the page and see where words would lead me … I wrote, whatever needed to come out of my head and hand. I couldn’t even see what as I writing, but that did not seem to matter.
I have quite nice handwriting, but in times of absolute distress, like the day when I was put on steroids and thought I was about to loose my mind (and life), my writing turned to a mismatch of scrambled words, varying in size and voracity. But ultimately I found peace. The fear eased somewhat. I could make some sense of what was happening to me.
Writing became very important to me in terms of writing myself into wellbeing, but it also became a tool to have fun with. I realized that I love words. I loved looking up words in the dictionary. All of the titles in my book Hatched came from researching ‘bird’ and ‘egg’ related words in the dictionary. Bliss! Fun and the power of words made it into all my books.
Writing, I realized the other day when I paged through an old scrapbook, came from childhood. Again, the hidden treasure found again.
Writing, I now know features in my family too. My great grandfather wrote letters for other people. The story goes that he even had to write to the Queen at one point. My father and mother both wrote their thoughts down too.
My dad (1917-1977) wrote this tiny diary during the months before the Netherlands went to war in 1939, and some experiences during the war. It is a treasure to have his words in my hands. I am translating this diary from Dutch to English with the help of my brothers Hans in the Netherlands and Joop here in Ireland. Some of the stories shared are funny, others are heart wrenching.
My mother (1921- 2007) started to write a series of reflections of her life while in her seventies and eighties. A life of poverty during youth but lived with amazing resourcefulness and strength of mind by her, her parents and siblings. There are some very funny accounts too. It is an interesting insight into her life.
My brothers wrote detailed diaries during their travels in the eighties, to many places that would not be safe to visit in modern times. My brother Kees, now living in Canada, has been compiling his words and images of his journey to and in Africa. I am looking forward to see and read this later in the year!
So, writing might be in all of us.
I hope that this post might inspire you to pick up your pen, or maybe you share with me and other readers your story about writing?
With every best wish.
(c) Corina Duyn
First published in Corina Duyn’s Little Wings Blog, 15 January 2017 http://corinaduyn.blogspot.ie/2017/01/the-power-of-written-word.html