I did it. I went to the workshop, I participated, wrote two poems and …read them out. I’ve not been in this sort of environment since becoming ill, and I felt incredibly awkward, shy and slightly foolish (what the hell am I doing here?). Three things happened. Firstly, the fellow running the workshop Steve Pottinger had the kind of relaxed manner that instantly made me feel at ease, he asked questions and listened to my answers, which is always a winner with shy folk like me. Secondly, EMDR therapy has vastly reduced the symptoms of anxiety. I felt nervous, but the breathlessness, twitchiness and feeling of blind panic were nowhere to be seen, considering these used to happen just going to the co-op, I was amazed and delighted. Finally, my sheer joy at being out, being focused on a subject that fascinates and moves me and being encouraged to write about it was irresistible.
It wasn’t plain sailing – I mumbled my way through reading my work, struggled to contribute sensibly and by the end brain fog had pretty much taken over so I ended up going full-on Moose Allan by the time I said goodbye. I lost the evening, and I suspect I’ll struggle with stamina this week, but I am so glad I’ve done this. I feel more positive about my work, and more joy in it than I felt for the whole of last year. If you’re interested to see what came out of the workshop, I’ve put my drafts on my work in progress page and I’d love it if you’d have a read.
But what about the tigers? Aha – the prompt for Mslexia’s themed writing is wildlife. Oddly, this has spawned two pieces of work about being in tiger disguise. One of these is a sestina, a delightfully complicated way of constructing a poem, which I thoroughly enjoyed creating. More revision and work is needed for both before (if) I submit, but again, the overwhelming feeling is that I am enjoying writing. The need for validation is still huge (and always will be I suspect) but that magic feeling of almost tasting the words as I write them is back.
The knife angel is in Southwater until the end of March, and there are poetry workshops for young people running this week at Southwater. It’s brilliant to have this on my doorstep, and I hope there will be more to come.