When I decided to start this blog, I was keen that it did not simply become a diary. There are plenty of other places (a leather bound book with a lock, maybe?) that I can spill my secrets or share the details of my days. I do want, however, to find/make time to write for no reason other than I like it. In trying to find my way back to the time in my teens when I wrote a great deal, and never gave much thought to why, or struggled for inspiration, I have been thinking a lot about what forms of creative writing gave me most pleasure.
Short stories, certainly. Poetry, rarely. I love to read poetry, but always felt like a clichéd angst ridden teenager every time I tried. Too self conscious a form for me. I was never brave enough to tackle a play, but I think I have some material…we’ll see. Let’s not run before we can walk shall we? Which brings me to where I am actually heading with this post – I’ve been thinking about starting with a form of writing used by my high school teachers to encourage reticent Scottish teenagers to add to their exam folios without having to come up with a story…reflective writing. ‘Write about a significant time in your life in 600-800 words. Pay particular attention to word choice, imagery and structure…’ You know the kind of thing.
Anyway, I thought that, seeing as 2012 has just dawned, my new blog has been ‘born’ and since 2011 was a fairly momentous year for me in a lot of ways, reflection on last year was a good place to start. So much for this not being a diary. I do not think it is the place for nearly a thousand words of reflection, but maybe just a few notes and I will see where I end up…
I learned a lot in 2011. Which is strange, given that it was the first calendar year for a long time when I was not consumed with higher education. 2011 was primarily a gap year, not in the traditional sense, no Thai beaches or Inca trails for me…I was waiting, really, for my career to start. I had secured a training contract in the field I had studied hard to enter, but due to the timing of the financial crisis, my place was deferred a year. I did not mind as much as I thought I would, in the end. As I said, I learned a lot.
I worked, mostly. The jobs were fine. I went on holiday. I got married. I went on honeymoon. I started my career. I was ill and hospitalised. I celebrated Christmas and New Year quietly.
In the end I packed in quite a lot to my quiet ‘gap’ year. While I was waiting, lots of things happened. Crucially, these things did not just happen to me. Because what made 2011 a momentous year was overlap. I love overlap. It is what makes life easier at times, and harder at times. I did not work on my own, plan a wedding alone, holiday or celebrate alone. Quite apart from what happened to me in 2011, I learned an awful lot because my life overlaps with so many others.
Our wedding is probably the best example. It created a lot of friction. Friction that I never could have envisaged or planned for. It was hard, but if 2011 taught me anything, it is that the hard stuff is often the good stuff. On the day itself, the weather was rotten, the wind utterly vicious. Dramatic, actually. As if it had tapped into the emotional temperature of the planning, and the tears I had spilt listening to venom…about me, about our plans. But, what happened that day was like a monumental two fingers to all of that. It was magical. And in the end, far more important to me than I had ever realised.
It was dramatic and exciting. It was wonderful. I laughed loudly. I ate. I drank. I kissed my husband and I was proud. The room was red, green and mahogany. Warm, and full of wonderful people. Just the best. My tears spilled, only once, real tears of sadness shared with a particularly wonderful girl, sister to an equally wonderful boy, who we both took ourselves aside to quietly miss for a moment. And then we had some cake.
2011 distilled is that day, quiet, loud, dramatic and wonderful. Of course there were dreadful bits, wild bits, and funny bits. I learned that the hard stuff is good. And that as long as your strongest feelings overlap with others’, it will be momentous, even if only to you, and even if, on the outside, it was just a quiet gap year where you waited for things to happen.