March 2013


I’m popping out of hibernation just to say it’s my blog birthday today.

This was my first post:

Speech is silver, silence is…

…not golden. Just a fake gold that soon dulls.  Like the necklace I bought in Cyprus. They told me it was gold. I knew they were lying, but I bought it anyway. I felt I had to buy something because they gave me tea….

I’ve been keeping silent for most of my life. It’s time to talk.

And I’ve been talking for four years. Thank you so much for listening and encouraging me to continue.

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…when everything starts to get on top of me and blog posts are squashed under the weight, but have no fear. There will be a post on this very blog almost every day of April.

Yes, it’s the A-Z Challenge and I will be discussing what I have learnt about memoir writing.

Now back to:

  • Planning the A-Z posts
  • Preparing to submit my pocket novel
  • Going over all the comments I received from my writing group this week
  • Spring cleaning
  • I think there’s more but I’m too tired to remember what it is

See you on April 1st.

BackInApril

The Mill River Recluse by Darcie Chan.

This book was recommended to me by my friend, Marallyn. She was in my previous writing group. Whenever I submitted yet another poor attempt to write about social anxiety, she said, “You must read The Mill River Recluse. That’s the way to write about social anxiety.” I’ve also seen the book praised elsewhere.

It’s a lovely, well-told story. It certainly kept me turning the pages. The story is believable, has believable characters and deserves to be read.

However, I do have some reservations about it. Mary, the recluse, has social anxiety. The reason for this is mentioned three times in the book (which I thought a bit excessive) and relates to one terrible incident that occurred when she was sixteen. She mentions that she was always shy, but I still think this is too easy. One incident, however bad, doesn’t cause social anxiety on its own. There has to be a lot more than that. I would have liked to have heard much more about Mary’s childhood and what led to her condition.

The consequence of Mary’s anxiety – becoming a recluse seen generally by only one other person and later by two others – is a very extreme outcome of social anxiety. This is mentioned in the book by a professional who meets her and says, “I’ve never seen such an extreme case of social anxiety.” Most people with social anxiety don’t keep themselves completely hidden in that way. They force themselves to get out and function in society however much of a struggle that is. I think someone who reads of an extreme case like this could make light of the effort made by someone who appears to function fairly normally.

That said, this book is still a lovely read.

Yesterday I began to write my reasons why I no longer want to hide my past, and how I should answer a writing colleague who wonders why. He deserves an answer; as well as asking me to my face, he wrote the question on his critique of my personal essay: “Why can’t the writer just MOVE ON and forget about all these injustices which are way gone?”

Interestingly, the same man also wrote, “I learned a lot about this social anxiety problem,” and he told us he’d looked up the term.

In the excellent post I mentioned yesterday, Joe Warnimont also wrote:

It’s when we forget to listen to stories of misfortune, the same events happen over and over again.

In writing, we need to consider what readers can gain. The rest of my reasons for writing about my past are for the readers:

  • I want to help readers to understand me and the many others like me. I want to clear up the misconceptions: that we’re stuck up, don’t want to talk, etc.
  • I hope, like my writing colleague, readers will learn about social anxiety, which is much more common than most people think.
  • I hope readers will learn about bullying and what it can do to the one on the receiving end of it.

If my writing could also lead to help for those who are suffering now, that would be the best reason of all.

I didn’t gain anything through all the years I tried to forget what happened. As Angela Brown said in her comment on my post from yesterday:

Forgive, forget, move on. Easier said than done because, in more instances observed, moving on doesn’t come from forgetting, it comes from the growth learned and earned from experiences.

Remembering is much healthier, if done in the right way. I don’t write about the past to perpetuate some feeling of victimhood. I’m not stuck in the past. My essay ends on a positive note with my hopes for the future. Looking back has helped me to look forward to something better.