Categories
Journal

Always writing, never written

For several years now, I’ve defined myself as a writer. It’s the only label I’ve ever felt comfortable with or enjoyed. And it’s never felt like a lie. I always feel like I’m writing. Right up until someone wants to read something I’ve written. That’s when the conversation gets a little… awkward.

“Have you written anything I can read?” When I get asked this question, my first thought is to wonder if I’ve written anything even I’d want to read.

“Well what do you write about?” Good question! Unfortunately, the answer is that I try to write a bit of everything, which is really no different from saying I write nothing. They’re both equally so non-specific as to be useless answers.

“Are you working on anything right now?” Yes: a blog, an article, a poem and a short story that isn’t very short at all. Or at least that’s what I tell myself. Sometimes it’s even true.

I decided to total up my word counts from 2020. This includes the short fiction I drafted, blog posts I never published and the blog posts I did publish. Looking at the result, I might have felt better about myself if I had added all the words in my Notes app and all those job applications for companies that ghosted me.

Categories
Poetry

Monsters in the Closet

The poem as posted on Instagram. On the left are the poem's words. On the right is a sketch of a man and woman afraid of a monster's face.
We all have monsters in the closet
We all fear what’s under the bed
But we should not hide our battle scars
Or give them all the spaces in our head
Our monsters are not the same
Yours might be tougher, larger, hairier
If I were to hang my monsters beside yours
They would envy how yours are scarier
Our pain and wounds are different
We’ve both been cut but not equally deep
My monsters only get me when I’m awake
Yours even terrorise you in your sleep
But if you’re willing to brave my monsters
And love me despite their fangs and claws
Take my hand and open the closet doors
Because I’m more than ready to face yours
Categories
Poetry

Escapril 2021 – Day 23: Clock

For those who don’t know, Escapril is the brainchild of poet and novelist Savannah Brown, who challenges the poets of Instagram to write and post a poem every day of National Poetry Month. Whilst Brown wouldn’t call herself a leader of the challenge, she is the “managerial ghost” of the @letsescapril Instagram account.

Today’s prompt is clock.”

Time has always been a problem for me. There have never been enough hours in the day. I rediscovered a barely used journal from 2012, and across several pages I’m lamenting my struggle with taming time. Little did 15-year-old me realise time would only become even more elusive without deadlines and structure.

But I didn’t want to write a poem about “wasted” hours. For starters, you waste more hours by lamenting lost time, so it’s counter-productive. That’s what I try and remind myself when those guilty feelings about unproductivity try to bring me down.

Categories
Poetry

Escapril 2021 – Day 18: Nightmare

For those who don’t know, Escapril is the brainchild of poet and novelist Savannah Brown, who challenges the poets of Instagram to write and post a poem every day of National Poetry Month. Whilst Brown wouldn’t call herself a leader of the challenge, she is the “managerial ghost” of the @letsescapril Instagram account.

The prompt today is nightmare.” Immediately, my mind went to the worst nightmare I’ve ever had. I had the nightmare when I was eight. I’ve had many nightmares since, but none have succeeded in terrifying me as much as Samara.

See, when I was eight, my mum decided to let me watch The Ring (2002). For those who don’t know, the movie is an American remake of Hideo Nakata’s Japanese film Ring (1998), which is itself an adaptation Koji Suzuki’s 1991 novel of the same name. The plot concerns a cursed videotape, whereby anyone who watches the tape will receive a phone call telling them they have seven days left to live. Once the seven days are up, Samara – or Sadako Yamamura in the original novel and Japanese adaptation – climbs out of your TV and kills you.

Categories
Poetry

Escapril 2021 – Day 7: Naked

For those who don’t know, Escapril is the brainchild of poet and novelist Savannah Brown, who challenges the poets of Instagram to write and post a poem every day of National Poetry Month. Whilst Brown wouldn’t call herself a leader of the challenge, she is the “managerial ghost” of the @letsescapril Instagram account.

The prompt today is naked.” I knew I wanted to write about vulnerability. It’s something I’ve been thinking a lot about in recent years, and it’s still something I’m learning how to do.

The angle I decided to take with the poem was inspired by Tim Kreider’s excellent Medium article “I Am a Meme Now.” Specifically, this quote:

[It’s] scary putting yourself out there, letting yourself be seen, vulnerable to people’s wrong opinions and dumb judgments. I’d sooner let a stranger see me naked than show them a first draft, which is like letting them see my naked brain.

As someone who writes, I very much connected with Kreider’s anxieties about exposing my naked brain to a stranger. It’s one of the things that has kept me from publicly blogging over the past year. Even posting these poems to Instagram has taken a great deal of mental strength to resist overthinking and excessive editing. It’s most certainly the reason why I couldn’t keep up with the challenge and post daily.

But I feel comfortable with this poem. In fact, I even feel a little proud of it.

Categories
Poetry

Escapril 2021 – Day 5: Here’s what I remember…

This month, I’m trying to force myself to be more creative. I had intended to follow the rules of the Escapril challenge. Alas, I missed the first four days and I’m doubtful I’ll be able to keep up this year. But on the days I am able to dip in, I’ll share my poems here, too.

For those who don’t know, Escapril is the brainchild of poet and novelist Savannah Brown, who challenges the poets of Instagram to write and post a poem every day of National Poetry Month. Whilst Brown wouldn’t call herself a leader of the challenge, she is the “managerial ghost” of the @letsescapril Instagram account.


The prompt today is here’s what I remember.” I knew from the get-go I wanted this to be a personal piece, the prompt lends itself perfectly to it.

I expected the poem to be a direct transcription of very real events, and that’s certainly how it began. But about halfway, I decided writing events as they literally happened was less honest than the truth of the feelings that transpired.

People come into our lives, and I don’t know about you, but it’s not uncommon that I forget the very first time I meet someone. There are people who make a strong first impression, and sometimes that can be all they leave. But other times, an unextraordinary greeting may lead to that person growing into a very special person in your life.

This poem is heavily inspired by such a person in my life. But I’d like to think it’s dedicated to all the relationships that take us by surprise.

Categories
Reading

Explore the infinite lives of Nora Seed shelved within Matt Haig’s “The Midnight Library”

CW: depression, suicide

The Midnight Library hardback cover, published by Canongate Books, 2020

What if you discovered that between life and death there was a library? On the shelves are an infinite number of books. Contained within the pages is a life you could have lived. What’s the first regret you would undo?

This is the question posed to the protagonist of Matt Haig’s The Midnight Library, Nora Seed. Nora is a 35-year-old woman whose life didn’t go the way she wanted. There had been many dreams and all of them failed to manifest into reality. Then a tragedy close to home kickstarts a string of events that lead to Nora’s final decision: to die.

But before she can get her wish, her old school librarian invites her to browse the collection of lives she could have lived. Within each is another Nora Seed she could have been if she had made different decisions. It is here where Nora’s journey to find the perfect life begins.

Categories
Reading

My favourite books of 2020

Collage of all 15 book covers in this list.

Every year I set myself a reading goal. I set it high enough to be a consistent nudge to read often but never too high that reading becomes stressful.

My goal was to read 35 books in 2020, and I read a total of 45.

It was the first year that theatre plays didn’t contribute to that final number, which made reading in 2020 a completely different experience to the previous couple of years. Instead, I read a great deal more non-fiction than I normally would, which I found to be equally as pleasurable as reading fiction. I also learnt a lot, too.

I enjoyed most books I read last year, but I’ve decided to list 15 I felt were worth highlighting. I’ve listed them in the order I read them. I considered ranking them but that led to overthinking, and I already have enough of that in my life.

Categories
Reading

Power comes at a great price in Jordanna Jade’s “The Eternal Garden”

NOTE: The author has since made edits to her book. The physical copy I read may now differ from the newer version.

Cover of "The Eternal Garden." Green stems with blood red thorns, subtitle reads: “Ilia Chronicles Part 2”

I have known Jordanna Jade since Year 10, and we’ve been friends since Year 12. She’s always been the person scribbling in a notebook, the person I’ve known with 100% certainty would publish a book. She was the kind of student who could convince any tutor she was hanging on their every word and taking extensive notes. In reality, she was penning the next chapter of her novel. Over the years, sitting beside her in class, her novel took many shapes. The Eternal Garden is its final form.

Categories
Reading

A non-fiction prescription: “This Is Going To Hurt: Secret Diaries of a Junior Doctor” by Adam Kay

Paperback cover, published by Picador (2017)

No matter how hard you think a junior doctor works, they work ten times harder. This is Going to Hurt is a collection of diary entries from Adam Kay’s six years on the front line of the NHS. Often funny, at times stomach-churning, and inevitably heartbreaking. This is life on and (very rarely) off the hospital ward, “verrucas and all.”

Divided into 10 sections, each dedicated to a specific post throughout his career, the bite-sized storytelling makes it the perfect book if you only have sporadic moments for reading.