I've actually been a writer for many years, but most of it hasn't seen the light of day. I've even destroyed a lot of what I have written. The raw stuff (journals etc) can inspire books later. I spend years writing my books, as I am processing plus working with disabilties that affect my cognition and memory.
I had some space last night to go through some of the extracts I'd torn from journals from 2017-2019. The rest of the 8 journals were burned recently.
The reason I keep some extracts for now, is they are relevant to helping me write a sequel novel, Soar Purpose (inspired by my experiences but venturing more into fiction territory).
The extract with orange writing was 6 years ago, before I started therapy for post-traumatic stress disorder, PTSD. I can tell my mood etc from my handwriting. I've shared some handwriting extracts on my blog (the bigger, messier and more tangential, the more elevated with bipolar disorder).
The above extract says:
17 Sept 2017
Hundreds & thousands of ideas buzzing around in my head - trying to unscramble & organise some so others can understand.
Struggle to communicate.
Book mammoth task - something to keep busy with even though fight to organise ideas in way others can understand.
Takes mind off feeling lonely, a failure, a burden, etc.
Influenced by music - listen to music when anxious etc.
Context: My big goal was to complete a book, Pet Purpose. Which was exceptionally challenging with a scrambled brain. I self-published Pet Purpose: Your Unspoken Voice in 2021. Although not commerically successful (I don't have the funds to promote it), it still went to readers in over a dozen countries. This project helped to give me a sense of meaning and purpose to stay alive, when struggling with severe mental illness and trauma.
Ugly art to solo art exhibitions
The extract below was ripped from a journal from 2018. Last night, I underlined some key words, for when I go back to develop the storyline. I've already incorporated snippets into Pet Purpose. I will write what it says underneath, in case you can't read my writing.
The above extract says (with no grammar corrections):
Art teacher at school said "You always paint something different according to what mood you're in". I thought "Isn't that the point?"
I felt criticised. ("You're going to have a nervous breakdown because you do too much!") So I didn't continue with my art. I feel like some of my art is ugly. But the reflect the ugly emotions I felt is ugly. It was a way of getting it out. I could paint pain in bright colours & by doing abstracts, only I knew what I was painting - sometimes only afterward, when I started analysing again.
I haven't painted pretty pictures under tight control. I've painted the process of unleashing emotion. When my thoughts were racing in a state of disorder & chaos.
Art helps calm my mind. Using that energy for something constructive & therapeutic with a ridiculous goal for myself to have an exhibition. A ridiculous goal to keep going, to feel like I had purpose and meaning after so much pain and loss. Maybe I'll give a speech? I want to reduce stigma for people with mental health conditions. Not be ashamed to show emotion.
Context: I was processing a memory of why I quit art at high school. Also that I later found doing art my way (making an improvised mess) helped process shutdown emotions. I set myself a 'ridiculous' goal of a solo art exhibition. I was clearly preparing for that. I ended up having two solo art as therapy exhibitions, on a low income. The art also helped me to organise my themes etc with a scrambled brain, to complete a novel.
My psychiatrist came to the opening night of my first exhibition. He also bought a signed copy of Pet Purpose (he was in shock that I completed it, knowing how severely impaired I was).
Purpose is what keeps me going. My creative expression is my purpose.
I wove the memory from the school art room into Pet Purpose:
Some of my raw process art is still up on my old website, Bipolar Courage. 'Ugly' art is still therapeutic (I would say even more so that trying to do 'pretty' art). The visual arts (often visual mind maps in disguise) helped me to narrow down and remember my themes for writing my books.
I currently write about relationships with disabilities (including bipolar disorder, PTSD, autism spectrum). My most recently published book is a memoir, Bipolar Courage: Are You Sure You're Not Autistic? (Links here).
Disclaimer: the author of this blog is not an expert by profession and her opinions should not be taken as expert advice.