“Left to myself, what a poet I shall flay myself into”
Sylvia Plath

What brings me here? The question should be: what has kept me away for so long? I have always wanted to be a writer, have always written, since childhood. Why then did I come to a standstill, a ten year creative crevasse?

I think that the answer lies in experience. When I was younger, it was all too easy, too facile, too glib. I had no problem in writing, but the things which I wrote were predictable and formulaic. I have given to that great oeuvre of miserable teenage woe-is-me- die-in-the-corner goth poetry over the years …..But somehow, all this seemed wrong. Where was the suffering for my art? Surely this wasn’t all there was?

“And by the way, everything in life is writable about if you have the outgoing guts to do it, and the imagination to improvise. The worst enemy to creativity is self-doubt.”
Sylvia Plath

This is where I began to doubt myself. I had nothing to write about – well nothing anyone would wish to hear. I decided, with the clear eye of a twenty-something, that I had to go out and LIVE. Yes L-I-V-E in capital letters. I decided that life was just one great rehearsal for the great novel. Everything that I experienced in life would be archived in my head. I too would have a “white alp in my eye to show I’d visited Europe”. I drew every moment to the full. Every disastrous relationship (and there were lots of those), every major crisis, every strange situation I could observe ….storing them all up for the day that they would fly out poetically in a work of great literature…..

If neurotic is wanting two mutually exclusive things at one and the same time, then I'm neurotic as hell. I'll be flying back and forth between one mutually exclusive thing and another for the rest of my days.
Sylvia Plath

This is what I did. Kept waiting for the moment to happen, but it never did. Then life intervened. Life, work – everything was the antithesis of what I had expected. The everyday drudgery of working to pay the rent. Getting up every morning to do the same thing until I came home at night, went to bed, and got up to do ..the same thing again……

I really joined in with the rat race, wanted my career progression along with all of them. I even joined in the marriage game, albeit later, with the rest of them. Watch me tripping down the aisle, click clack in my spindly heels and fluffy dress, along with all the other sheep….. Then pop, pop, the little baby as matching accessory.
But there was something wrong. This all seemed like play-acting, artificial, gimcrack….something else kept seeping through, a carmine stain on the fresh veneer of ‘normailyt’

The blood jet is poetry and there is no stopping it.
Sylvia Plath

I still had these troublesome creative thoughts, though. The kind that would get me sideways looks at respectable dinner parties. I thought too much. Dangerous. Why did I need to read so much? Abnormal. Maybe that’s why I could never get into the domestic goddess groove… But the dangers, in some ways, were real.

Dying is an art, like everything else. I do it exceptionally well. I do it so it feels like hell. I do it so it feels real. I guess you could say I've a call.
Sylvia Plath

Rising from unconsciousness, again, examining the fresh cuts, again.
Feeling where he had beaten me under the hairline, again …”so the bruises wouldn’t show”. I broke apart the sham eggshell of normality. I cracked apart the fragile carapace of my “marriage”.
I took myself back, poetry, weird thoughts and all.

Out of the ash
I rise with my red hair
And I eat men like air.
Sylvia Plath

This is where I am as a writer. I have flayed myself to the writer I wish to be, arrived at this point via a difficult path. Finally I have the confidence to be myself. Myself as a woman, and myself as a writer. I have taken myself back. Reborn, risen as the phoenix.


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