Sometimes we can be trundling along, just getting on with what we get on with when something stops us abruptly in our tracks.
Two weeks ago, I was preparing for the fortnightly writing group, planning to go along even though I had no writing to share. I had even confessed to the other writing group folks that I would be a passenger that evening, soaking in their creativity and critiquing in one direction. Not only had I nothing prepared, I had not had the slightest idea or spark of inspiration. On top of that, I had just returned from Bangkok and the latest round of exhausting tests. Nope, I was under no illusions that I would be taking anything with me that evening, in the shape of words on a page.
Then I received an email from one of our cosy number, Becky in Burma, in which she mentioned the e-course she was part of and saying that she would probably bring something she had written as one of the exercises. With her email was an appeal to print a paper copy as that is always easier to share. Attached to the email was her writing, along with the exercise details.
Of course I had a look at her poem, a heartfelt and powerful piece of writing. Then I looked at the prompt, and realised that a strange thing was happening. My mind was whirling and before I knew it, everything around me was strangely disconnected . Oblivious to my surroundings, I was scribbling away furiously, words pouring out, emotions running amok, struggling to keep back tears. Within less than fifteen minutes, I put my pen down, dazed, stunned and spent and I looked at what was on the page
Out of absolutely nowhere, and with less than hour to go until our meeting time I suddenly had something to share. Not a piece of eloquent writing, nor a passage of creative or experimental prose but a page of raw, ugly emotion and truth which had been lurking not so far from the surface, only to be spat out violently.
I have deliberately not edited this in any major way. I have made a couple of very minor adjustments, but have left it very much as the words formed. And that is intentional. The prompt was “What if I were to tell you”?
And clearly I had a lot that I wanted to tell. Even if I hadn’t realised it.
I posted the words which had crowded in unbidden, as my own very first Poetry Friday. Judging from the many comments and reactions, it seemed to strike a chord. It appears to be not quite a universal truth, but seemingly a widely held one.
As a lay person, I can only speak of how this appears to me. I feel strongly that diagnosis brings what I see as a psychological isolation. The world we enter on hearing the “you have cancer” words frequently forces an unwanted gulf created between those diagnosed and all close and touched by that diagnosis. And often we want to protect those close to us from the insidious reality.
And it is as difficult to articulate these ugly truths as it is to hear them.