Throughout my life, I have put pen to paper when the going gets tough. I believe writing restores and heals. It is a therapeutic process which, for me, has always been a tonic. Pouring my heart and soul on to paper has kept me afloat during the difficult periods in my life.
I was hooked from the age of seven. Writing became a coping mechanism throughout my difficult childhood, poetry mostly, which morphed into song lyrics, during my teenage angst years. In adulthood, when life pelted me with rotten eggs, I always reached for a keyboard. Everybody needs an outlet for their emotions. Some run, some use a punchbag, I write.
In 2015, my inner strength was tested to breaking point. I was made redundant in June but, as aggrieved as I felt, I chose to make the best out of a bad situation. I decided to take six months out before looking for another job, to start writing the novel that had been whirring around in my head for years, Just Say It. It was just as well I did because August dealt a devastating blow.
My brother died unexpectedly. Twenty-four hours later, and still reeling from shock, another significant person in my life took their last breath. Consumed by grief, I was sucked into a dark void, but I kept writing. It allowed my mind to escape the turmoil within and vent my raw, gut-wrenching emotions into the written word.
Just when I thought life couldn’t get much worse, my mother’s health rapidly deteriorated, and she died on 13th December 2015. Given that she lived in on the Mainland, as did my brother, had I still been working, I would never have been allowed enough time off work to cope with the fallout. Life kicks you when you are down sometimes, and 2016 didn’t get off to a good start either, as my aunt died.
Death is always hardest for the ones that are left behind, but I clung to reality through the written word. Writing kept me sane. Writing Just Say It, helped me to put the pieces of my life back together and move on. I recently wrote about writing for my life on my blog, and in 2015, I was doing just that.
When Lockdown started in March 2020, I had two large writing projects on the go. Presented with more time than I ever imagined I could possibly have to finish them, I couldn’t. Although hunkered down and safe, I was like everybody else, constantly distracted by the devastating effect COVID-19 was having on a global scale. Sleepless nights, overeating, drinking too much, by the time we were released from Lockdown, my cholesterol levels were off the Richter Scale.
Then, something inside me clicked. I started writing a daily Lockdown diary on my blog. Life after Lockdown, Bad Lockdown Hair Day, Lockdown Nostalgia, Lockdown Limp Lettuce…? Artistic licence. Then came Lockdown Nostalgia, which was when my writing changed course.
I had an overwhelming urge to write about my life to date. To revisit those colourful, halcyon days of our lives before COVID-19. Reliving the magical holidays in far-flung places, the Hay Festival, Wimbledon and Glastonbury, as well as those unforgettable evenings closer to home, at the Opera House or the Arts Centre and being part of the beating heart of the theatre.
Once more, writing took my mind off the surreal events going on around me. By losing myself in the past, I began to feel a burgeoning sense of excitement about our future, when COVID-19 is tamed by the new vaccine and, once more, we will all be free to live our lives without restriction.
My main character in Just Say It writes about her life in a comedic vane, and she refers to it as taking a trip down therapy lane. Writing is therapeutic and, five years on from my annus horribilis, I am in no doubt that it saved my sanity.
When life kicks you in the solar plexus, and all seems lost, face your fears head-on and write about them. Channel your emotions into the written word and start the healing process. Write as though your life depends on it!
By Sally Edmonson