I write because it is as essential to my feeling alive as oxygen and water. That may sound grandiose but that is how important words and writing are to my emotional, mental and physical survival in my little part of the universe. I've been considering this over the last few months as I push against the pressure, frenzy and noise of 'having to be published', to be seen as a 'credible' writer. Right now, that pressure takes the joy out of writing which means I'll forgo the credibility.
If I'm not credible because I've not been published, maybe that makes me an in-credible writer instead?
incredible / in-kred'i-bl/adjective 1. Unbelievable 2. Difficult to believe in 3. Very great 4. Unusually good, amazing (informal)
Words strung together have been my lifeline, pulling me back to shore tirelessly and unconditionally over and over again, especially over the last three years of trauma and loss. If I didn't have incredible words to play with I don't quite know what state my mind would be in right now.
About a year after my Dad's death, I started to feel bone-alone. I had never experienced a loneliness so thoroughly woven in to the fabric of who I am. It felt as if loneliness had replaced the calcium phosphate, hardening in to my skeletal frame until I felt I was being held up by a vacuous ghost imposter. The loneliness leached from my bones, through the layers of my skin and blanketed me in dense fog. Nothing seemed to ease the ache. Not friends, family or Netflix.
The only place where I felt the loneliness slip away was sea-swimming, the salt water penetrating my bones, washing away the ghost. Or sat under my favourite Olive tree, an old soul overlooking the Libyan sea in Crete, leaning against it's trunk I felt held and loved. A place where I could step out of linear time, everyday life, the endless to-do lists, reality-noise, responsibilities and float on sun rays and sea-gazing. Alone. I found the presence and smell of goats enormously comforting. Strange...I know.
And pouring my heart and aching bones in to my journal, without distraction. Since my Dad died I've written in white journals only. I don't know why. I've gone from black to white. I haven't worked out the metaphorical meaning of this yet. I'm not sure it even matters. Where words have been my lifeline, keeping a journal has been my life belt, holding me afloat in a year of wild seas and above tangled ship-wrecks. My journals can handle the ghost-imposter and carry the weight of water, the tsunami of grief that bursts out unexpectedly, the repeated swells of bone-aloness. My journal can handle the intensity of aches, pains, grief, dreams, ideas, obsessions and secrets that would make even the most trusted friend run away very fast! It's cheaper than therapy and sometimes a much better listener.
Yet, pains spoken aloud to a trusted another is powerful. I remember the moment I told a close friend that my loneliness felt bone-deep. She heard me to her bones and that bone to bone acknowledgement helped the loneliness evaporate for a time. But it skulks back quietly and in those moments, often in the middle of the night, I reach for my life belt, my unconditional fountain pen and lined paper and scratch it out until I feel weightless again.
Anyone and everyone who keeps a journal of any type is an incredible writer. A very great writer. An unusually good, amazing writer. Their unbelievable and difficult to believe in words are fully heard on the page. Because a journal-keeper dares. Dares to go in to the underworlds. Dares to defy gravity. Dares to swim in night seas. Dares to forgo credibility. Dares to write for writing's sake.