I am fast approaching the end of my project, writing my memoir, supported by Arts Council England (ACE).
I have been preoccupied with this in the last year, speaking to fellow writers about writing a memoir, and drafting more chapters to share with my mentor, recent Carlos Palanca judge, Ms. Susan Lara.
There have been a few highlights of this project for me, including researching nurses and the history of UK nurses with the help of the Royal College of Nursing RCN Libraries and running 2 x workshops for their members. It was uplifting to share stories, ideas, and perspectives with fellow healthcare workers while hearing their own narratives on caring, sacrifices, and personal journeys.
Creatively, I have developed a lot and learned that whilst writing poetry is the core of my being, jumping over the fence to the field of creative non-fiction can be so liberating too. There is something special about telling the truth about one’s experiences.
American novelist Flannery O’Connor once said, “I write to discover what I know.” I have been mulling on these words for quite some time, to realise that we all have stories to tell, no matter how trivial our day-to-day is, there is a story in them; that we are all non-fiction. One of the hardest tasks of my journey is to focus on what matters to me, despite the array of experiences I have had, and to shed light on these in order to connect to others. Sometimes, because our life is so thick and colourful and deep, I realise the truth in what William Zinsser writes: “Every successful piece of nonfiction should leave the reader with one provocative thought that he or she didn’t have before. Not two thoughts, or five – just one.” It is only in the quietest of nights and the stillest state of mind that something becomes apparent, a crumb shines, and a thought becomes more succinct. It took me some exciting (and sometimes boring) re-reading and re-examining of my manuscript to find this crumb of light. My manuscript is still far from perfect, but at least I have it. Now I have 50k words and counting. And if it is not for ACE which allowed me time and money to get more leave from my full-time work and write, I would not have this rough manuscript with me. My desk would have still been empty. I am so thankful for this experience.