Friday, 18 May 2018

Contemplating life without the act of writing.

The blog has been quiet for almost a month now which has, sadly, been fully intended. But I haven't left a month empty for 6 years, so I won't let it happen in the midst of relatively unimportant exams.

My life for the last few weeks has consisted of a selection of deathly quiet libraries, coloured pens running out on me, cream cheese and cucumber sandwiches, terrible coffee, good coffee and, if I'm lucky enough to be in bed by 11, old episodes of The Great Interior Design Challenge on Netflix.

Amazingly my thoughts have still been whirring away. On the cycle back from the library to my college I can still work through more than just what I'll be having for dinner. I'm thinking things still; big things, small things, working myself out, working the world out as I spend hours robotically writing notes in bright pink, and then in bright blue when the felt tip dries up.

I have realised, however, that I have nowhere for my own thoughts to go when I'm not writing them down somewhere, anywhere. Two weeks ago I was busy with more than just revision. I was rehearsing for a show I'm working on, I was meeting cool people, having interesting conversations, collecting stories to tell. I scribbled some of them down in my diary before I started these monotonous hours in the library. But somehow it still feels like there are thoughts and memories still floating above me, floating higher and higher, harder for me to anchor with the act of writing them down.

Sometimes I secretly worry that I'm pretending to myself that I like writing. I wonder if I've accidentally told too many people and I can't go back on my word. I didn't realise I needed a month without it to really miss the sensation of ordering and crafting my thoughts into something coherent for no one but myself, but anyone who also may be curious.

I feel good now. Expunged some of the disorderliness in my head, forced a creative outlet. I'll sleep better, a weight's been lifted. You should try it, maybe.

Sunday, 22 April 2018

Just write a paragraph.

"Just write a paragraph" I've said to myself about 20 times today and yesterday. It seems my head is in its repetitive mode where interesting things are said once and then latched onto and dismantled into something boring and overdone. A thought or feeling is so strong for me that over weeks I find myself sitting down to write and wanting to say the same things. Writing is the greatest form of my emotional expression, and describing how I feel is often my way out, but I write for an audience here and I have a diary to write more explicitly and less eloquently how pain or happiness or stress pervades my day.

I do write for an audience here and I think that's where I get stuck sometimes. I write for an audience that I know, mostly. I sit down at my laptop, or sometimes on my phone, and I wonder what people, people I've befriended on Facebook, would mind reading about. It is no bad thing to write for an audience. It sharpens the way that you write, that's one reason why I do it. But sometimes it can stifle me when I get scared. I'm not scared of anyone I know, I could tell anyone anything... I'm a big sharer. It's just that knowing that people will read what I like and they will decide whether they do or don't like it, whether they do or don't agree, makes me falter sometimes, hesitate over the 'publish' button, re-write the first sentence over and over again before I find something to go with. It makes me procrastinate for days on end.

And now I've written something. More than a paragraph. A few short ones instead. And the funny thing is I don't mind what people think, as long as someone enjoyed the words that I wrote on this stuffy April evening. That's all that matters, isn't it?

Saturday, 14 April 2018

Possible if the sun is shining.

There is something about the sun shining that makes everything seem good again. Or, at least, possible. A few days a go I wrote this, intending for it to be shared:

So you've found yourself here again. Sitting in the car by yourself wondering why your chest feels like its caving in and you can't stop crying. The world feels like it might come to an end but yesterday you sat drinking with friends thinking what a wonderful thing it was to be alive. You were so filled with love and laughter. Why are you here again?

You keep worrying - don't you - that this is going to repeat itself forever. That this earth-shattering emotional pain, that this deep-seated sadness is going to go round and round. That you'll have to swim through these periods like swimming through thick tar missing bits of your life you fear will be tainted. 

You know that's not the case. You know that sadness in memories fades, that the happiness that was there all along fills it in. Pictures that were painful to look at now bring joy. Not all of them, but only because some things still hurt. 

What are you going to do then? You know this can't keep on. You know that it doesn't. You know that you pull yourself back up. But what are you going to do? 

You are surprised that you're here again. You thought you were going up, but no one goes up forever. Life is up, life is going up, but you are sometimes watching from the bottom. You are moving with life, but you are not feeling with it. Not all the time. Not right now. So what are you going to do? 

-

Life is so unpatterned, so random that knowing what will happen next, how you will feel from day to day is impossible. I have no external reason in my life right now to feel the "deep-seated sadness" that I sometimes do, but I do. Perhaps there are biological reasons, perhaps its in my nature. But the repetitiveness of 'bad' feelings is not good enough for me. I do not have the time to fixate on thoughts that bring me emotional pain. Today the sun is shining and I feel calm. Later I will see friends, I will read, I will go to work. I will feel happy. I know I will. I will also dip down - perhaps today, maybe tomorrow. But it must be my conscious effort to forgive myself and get back up again.

I asked myself "so what are you going to do?" and now I know: forgive yourself, take care of yourself, love yourself and get back up. That is not always easy, but it is almost always possible. Even if the sun isn't shining. 

Saturday, 7 April 2018

No more Manic Pixie Dream Girls.

I am bored of second rate female characters in films. I am bored of being highly critical of how a film portrays women, or people of colour. 

The other day I saw 'Isle of Dogs' at the cinema and it was great. But at the end of the film I was left feeling annoyed. How come Wes Anderson's female characters can only exist as romantic interests? I went back through them all in my head as the credits rolled, he may be the king of the Manic Pixie Dream Girl. The women are interesting, sure, but they only serve as quirky love interests of the much more developed, central male characters. 

This isn't to say that I don't enjoy the films where every character except for the white male is mis/under-represented. I'd be hard pushed to find films where that didn't happen. Even in films that I love, films that might have interesting women fall short elsewhere. "Oh the black actor is the main part's funny sidekick again? With minimal characterisation? That's new." 

If I'm going to be "fair" to the sexist way women are presented in (mostly) Hollywood movies then obviously I have to consider the social climates/times they were made in. Blah blah blah. The newer the film the less time I have for its lazy underdevelopment of non-white male characters. Or its lazy casting. Or its outdated, antifeminist sexualisation and exploitation of women's bodies (I just watched Blade Runner 2049). 

I know that social movements go slow. I know that the Weinstein exposure only just happened meaning, up until the end of 2017, women were quietly being bullied, manipulated and sexually abused. Women are still being bullied, manipulated and sexually abused just, hopefully, less quietly and less effectively. If Salma Hayek's story is anything to go by then the constant misrepresentation of women in film and the constant over-sexualisation of them is hugely unsurprising. 

But I'm still bored of it. Female characters are not hard to write, a black actor is capable of playing the lead role, white men are quite clearly not the only interesting, complex, beautiful human beings we can portray in film. There is so much more we could be exploring, so much more most people want to explore. I am so bored of pretending otherwise. 

Thursday, 29 March 2018

Worrying.

A few weeks ago I sat round a table in a bar with a few people I'd done a play with - it had just finished its run - and for some reason this blog became the topic of conversation. One of my friends asked the group to put their hands up if they read it, which they all did, and that always comes as a surprise to me. Then he said "put your hand up if you worry about Mollie when you read her blog". And they all did, which was also a bit of a surprise.

I've realised that I write best when I'm being honest and when I write from a place of sincere emotion. And sometimes that honesty and sincerity doesn't stem from a good or happy place. I don't mind that, the writing I share can be a sort of therapy both in its being written and its publication, and if it is something  that I can be proud of then in every way it's done its job, for me, at least.

I haven't written a blog post for a few weeks, something uncharacteristic of me, because I haven't felt up to it. That's okay, anything I did write would have been repetitive and probably boring. I haven't written much privately either because I'm not sure the feelings and thoughts I've had are that worth remembering. Anything written from a non-personal perspective wouldn't have contained the right emotion. Maybe even still it's not quite coming from the right place. I've sat for half an hour producing words at a snail's pace because returning to a habit you've neglected for a while is hard. I always lack the confidence I normally build up when I'm writing weekly. It's funny how quickly it can diminish.

What I'm trying to say is that everything I write comes from a place of truth. And when that truth is sad, or fearful or has seen better days, there is never a cause to truly worry. If I ever stop writing, if this blog goes quiet without explanation for more than a few weeks then maybe that's when you could check if I was alright, but I highly doubt that's going to happen.

Thursday, 8 March 2018

To my sister on International Women's Day.

When people who don’t know us say we look alike, some have even said like twins, I laugh. I laugh because we could not be more different. 

Recently I screamed in your face, and you screamed in mine and we said we hated each other. We’ve done it before, and no doubt we’ll do it again, but that particular time was pretty bad and I am still ashamed of how I behaved.

You are the one person in the world who has said the most deeply hurtful things to me and meant it. I only know you meant it, and it only hurt so much, because what you said has always been a little bit true.

More recently than the day we screamed at each other and Mum had to apologise to our neighbour for the noise we had one of the most perfect days of my life. We got up early and I drove us to Stratford upon Avon and we queued to get cheap tickets to the theatre and we did things that you liked, and things that I liked, and I felt so blissful and so happy just to be spending such perfect time with you. 

This was exactly three days after I said, or rather shouted, the words “I don’t like anything about you”. I really, really, really didn’t mean that. 

Sometimes I worry because I see you growing up and becoming a woman and taking a different path to me. And I worry because I have no control over that path and I don’t know where it leads which is silly because I have no control over mine or where I’m going, really. 

Sometimes I worry because I watch you undervalue yourself over and over again and I don’t know how to stop that. I don’t know how I will stop you invalidating your worth with men who don’t know it. I don’t know how to teach you that even though you are brilliant you are going to have to work hard at absolutely everything. I don’t know how to tell you that if you want something you go and get it but that means hurting and that means fear and that means rejection. 

But I also know that you do know all these things, and even if you don’t yet you will learn them and you will learn them without me. 

I know that you have the ability to speak your mind and stand your corner as loudly and as clearly as I do. I know that you do not fear judgement and even when you do you look past it. You look past it better than I do sometimes.

To finish my open letter to you on International Women's Day 2018 I wish to say this. Your worth as a woman will be counted in many ways throughout your life and not all of them will be your choice. You will have to find the strength to undermine the ways in which society will try to determine your value. And you will have to find the strength to be angry - really angry - and to use that anger positively. You must use your strength to help other women at all times and you must use your strength to forgive. 

Finally, I want you to know that I love you and that I am proud of you and that you are one of the strongest, most brilliant women that I know. 

Monday, 26 February 2018

Big, fat, open wound.

I have a big, glaring problem with loneliness. I hate it. I think that I shouldn't have to go through it, that no one else is experiencing it. I think that men should just fall in love with me and when they don't, repeatedly, I feel disgustingly, horribly, painfully alone. I feel alone in the experience, I feel alone for not 'having someone', I feel alone for not being doted on.

And I let this loneliness, or this deep fear whose origins I can't quite put my finger on, swim up around my heart and my head. I let it clench my chest like a belt pulling tighter and tighter. I let it make me cry enormous quantities of tears. I let it overwhelm my thoughts with this stupid idea that by not 'having someone', whoever that someone is meant to be, I am devalued. I am embarrassing, and awkward, and I think that being nearly 20 and a half and single is something to be quite deeply ashamed of.

I have this idea of what it is I am missing out on, what I think literally everyone else on the planet is experiencing. I have this idea but I don't actually know what it is.

There's this huge open wound that I have neglected and I keep thinking that someone else is going to come and fix it and heal it but they're not. They can't. It is my wound and 'having someone' is only going to make it worse.

Sometimes I feel like people in relationships have done something right and I haven't. Like they've been rewarded with an entire person for themselves. Like they must be happier than me, and less lonely. Sometimes I actually think that even if I go through a relationship that is not equal and in love and playing out its natural lifetime that as long as it lasted more than a month or two I will have gained something. I won't be so ashamed. I won't feel so lonely.

With these thoughts I not only devalue myself but every relationship I have ever had and still have. I mean flings and heartbreaks, and I mean family and friendships. I devalue every connection with another human being; everything they felt for me whether it was romantic or platonic love, admiration or desire.

I am writing this because I am so angry. I am so angry that I feel like this, that I keep this thought going round and round in my head to the point where it just becomes "I hate you, and you do not deserve love.". I am writing this and making it public because I need to expel this dark, negative, corrosive feeling. I need to get up and look directly into the heart of my own weakness, that big open wound, and I need to let it heal.

I need to stand alone. Away from other people's lives that I keep comparing my own to, away from social ideals I think I should have conformed to or achieved by now. And I need to say, over and over again, "I love you, and you are loved, and you can only ever be loved more not less."