I was brought up not to ‘blow my own trumpet’, to such an extent that at the ripe old age of 54 I still struggle to believe that anything I do or create is ever any good. But I am changing, gradually and quietly changing into someone who finally believes in their capacity to create. I am trying to let go of the fear that what I do may not be any good. If it makes me feel good, if I get lost in the flow of my thoughts and the stream of my words, that is a good thing in itself, and that should be enough. If, in due course, other people enjoy what I have written, if my words resonate with just one person, then that will be a bonus.
I never really thought of myself as a creative person. At school, I believed that I wasn’t any good at art. I couldn’t draw very well and clearly did nothing to impress any of my art teachers. Looking back now, I remember that I loved colour and shape and texture, but at the time I wrote myself off because of my less than perfect drawing ability. I was a great doodler though. I would spend many happy hours doodling, creating shapes and colouring them in, dreaming of something more, something intangible, instead of giving my full attention to the causes of World War One, the different types of glacial erosion, or the formation of oxbow lakes.
I have always loved to write and words come fairly easily to me on the page. I am one of the few teachers who actually likes writing school reports, and any other type of report or document that my work necessitates. I’ve often written poems for other people to mark special occasions; birthdays, promotions, engagements, poems for end of season hockey get togethers to celebrate our victories, songs for people leaving work. I always felt amazing when I offered these poems, or recited them, or in the case of the songs, performed them in front of an appreciative audience. But I never made the leap in my head, I never realised that I was actually quite a creative person.
As with many creative people, I am a highly sensitive and emotional right-brain type, so the clues were always there, but I didn’t make the connection. Until, that is, I began writing three years ago when I was beginning to emerge from a period of crippling depression and anxiety which nearly smothered me. Writing became my outlet, and as I began to write I was able to make sense of what had happened to me and to find my way back to health. I was determined to create something positive from the darkness, to find a new sense of purpose, and slowly found the courage and the ability to express myself, both as a volunteer speaker/ambassador for beyondblue and through my writing. In the last year the momentum has grown to the point where I have created my own publishing name, and am on the cusp of self-publishing a set of 7 children’s picture books, with more in the pipeline, to be followed by a non-fiction book about my journey through anxiety and depression. My most recent project is a collection of poems to heal and replenish the spirit.
A very dear friend of mine told me this week that she didn’t realise she was a creative person until she built her own house. We have just started renovating our house, and after some initial trepidation while my trademark fear and anxiety about how it will all work out took over, I am now very excited about the opportunity to create something new from an existing house, a new home where my family and I will live and work and laugh and love and do all the things that make our souls sing. My eldest son is following his creative dream to be a singer/songwriter, while my husband, who bakes the most amazing bread, is hoping to develop this passion into something of a sideline and supply a modest number of people on a regular basis. We are all stepping into our creative shoes and it feels great. My son’s conviction that music is the path he needs to follow at this time in his life is a huge source of inspiration to me, and the fact that we are embarking on our respective writing and music journeys at the same time is a beautiful thing.
As for blowing my own trumpet, I will, in the very near future, need to publicise myself and my work if I want people to buy my books. I won’t find it easy, but I draw strength from what my friend told me, the same friend who didn’t think she was creative until she built a house. ‘Sue’, she said to me, ‘it is not about blowing your own trumpet, it is about valuing yourself’. It was a huge ‘Ah Ha’ moment; if I don’t value myself and my work, how can I expect anyone else to? So that is what I will do. I will value myself. You may even hear me sounding my trumpet loud and clear across the treetops in the coming months.