Friday Speak Out!: Writing

Friday, December 18, 2020
by Alice May

My house falling down unexpectedly had a very focusing effect on me.

It’s not difficult to imagine the thoughts that galloped through my head as I stood on my driveway, watching in total disbelief, as a large corner section of two supporting walls slid gracefully away from the rest of the property, taking with it a couple of windows and part of the porch roof.

As my house fell down, my comfortable, if hectically busy, life fell apart.

We didn’t know why the walls had collapsed, hadn’t a clue what to do and had nowhere to go. According to our house insurance provider, we didn’t have a policy that covered us for the damage, either, which came as a nasty surprise.

The whole unfortunate event was the beginning of an extremely transforming and highly unsettling stage in life, from which my husband and I and our four children (as well as the the house) emerged forever altered. There was a lengthy stay in a tent in the garden, followed - to my utmost relief - by the arrival of a caravan and a frustratingly slow and painful climb over eighteen months to re-establish a normal existence.

Life became defined by two distinct periods, the time before the house fell down and then what came afterwards.

Two years later, on a cold January morning - shortly after we’d finally rebuilt the house and moved back in - without conscious intention or voluntary thought I gave into the urge to start writing and I haven’t stopped since.

Now, I wonder why I didn’t write before, but, on reflection, the answer to that particular question isn’t exactly earth shattering. The little gremlin that has sat on my shoulder ever since I was a very small child has repeatedly insisted that I’m rubbish. Think of rock bottom and then dig at least fifty fathoms further down, if not more, and that’s where you’d have found my self-confidence, lurking at an impressively low level. Why would anyone want to read something I might write?

The house falling down, and the subsequent trials we went through, taught me a great many things. The most valuable lesson for me has been that it’s okay to give myself permission to believe in me. And so, I write.

The gremlin still sits on my shoulder muttering poison, but I don’t give pay attention. People may not want to read what I write and that’s absolutely their prerogative, but it doesn’t mean I shouldn’t write and it doesn’t stop me enjoying the writing process.

Writing is now crowbarred into and around every aspect of my life; the school run, social events and family time. If I’m not writing, I’m thinking about writing. With a notebook and pen in my bag and a fully charged laptop at the ready, I write anywhere, any time. I can’t imagine living any other way and these days, to my shock, I find I actually like me, which is something that’s never happened before.

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A former GP surgery manager and now a part-time school librarian, Alice May is mum to four not-so-small children and married to (probably) the most patient man on the planet. They live in what used to be a tumbledown cottage in the New Forest.

Alice is the author of The House that Sat Down Trilogy and enjoys speaking to clubs and groups about the importance of self-care and promoting resilience through creative activities.

Website: www.alicemay.weebly.com
Instagram: alicemay_author_artist 
Twitter: @AliceMay_Author
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Would you like to participate in Friday "Speak Out!"?
Email your short posts (under 500 words) about women and writing to: marcia[at]wow-womenonwriting[dot]com for consideration. We look forward to hearing from you!
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5 comments:

Theresa Boedeker said...

What a wonderful outcome of your house falling down, your thinking about yourself changed! "It’s okay to give myself permission to believe in me. And so I write." It is hard to write if we don't believe in our self. I had never put these thoughts into words before. Maybe a writer friend who is making excuses about why she can't write, really needs to change the way she sees herself.

Margo Dill said...

You are very good at making lemonade out of lemons. Goodness. Your house fell down? I bet that was unbelievable. I'm glad that through it you found your writing voice, though, and that you did not stop. Thank you for this post!

Jeanine DeHoney said...

Alice I've always heard that what doesn't break you makes you stronger. You are definitely an example of that. Through this trial you found your personal strength and the strength of your writing voice.

Angela said...

Alice, I relate to this post. I've had that gremlin on my shoulder many times, the one who says my writing isn't good enough. Sometimes it takes something big and life changing--like a house falling!--for us to reflect on how short our time is and what brings us joy. I'm so glad you gave yourself permission to tell your story. :) Thank you for sharing with us, and I will check out your book!

Sioux Roslawski said...

Alice--You have to shut up that gremlin on your shoulder. If it's sitting on your right shoulder, take your left hand and smash it down, til it's no longer breathing.

What a story. If you're not already working on it, I think you should start writing your memoir. Chronicling that experience--having your house fall down and then finding your voice--is something lots of people need to hear. Lots and lots of people.

I hope to see another Friday Speak Out! post from you. Good luck with your future writing (and with maiming that gremlin ;)

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