Saturday, 5 November 2016

Writing and the Future

This blog title sounds rather portentous/pompous - apologies, I am a little out of practice! I just logged in here and was surprised to see that the last time I posted was back in June. I knew it had been a while, but still... So I thought I had better get on with it although as I start this post I have absolutely no clue as to what I am going to write about.

Nothing major has happened. Well, it has actually. I am about to start on my sixth week of an MA in Novel Writing. It is more of a challenge than I expected - I just thought it would be fun but of course I had no concept of the critical theory aspect of literature and how complicated it can be. I have not considered giving up though - well, perhaps I did think about it fleetingly a week ago when my first assignment was due in.

I stuck with it though - yay! I have a bit of a bugbear about giving things up - I really try not to do it but I am afraid it has become a bit of a pattern with me. I specialise in giving up on my attempts to write novels, usually when I am ten to twenty thousand words in. In some ways it is a good thing - if something is not working why waste more time on it? In other ways I am quite aware that it is a cop-out.

I have given up something this week - helping out with the local Cub Scout pack. I feel bad about that - apart from my personal feelings about giving up on things I hate letting other people down. However, I just didn't have the time to devote to it. The MA really is all-encompassing, I have been working through the evenings and weekends to get it done, and as a result something had to give. I have given the Cubs ten months and what was supposed to be just a couple of hours a week turned out to be rather more so I consider that I have done my bit.

I do feel as though I am making progress with my writing. As part of the Masters I have to do some creative writing each week - only about five hundred words usually, although this week it was a little more. The word count quickly adds up and the ideas for other stories are starting to come too. Creativity really does build once you start to work on it, at least that is the way it happens for me.

I was asked by the local library to run a couple of writing workshops last month. They were on the subject of 'Writing for Wellbeing'. The first was on World Mental Health day and it was so over-subscribed that they wanted to run another and apparently they had very good feedback for both. I was told at the end of the second workshop that I am a 'natural teacher' which made me very proud!

I do hope to get a career going at some point although I am not going to rush myself. My youngest son is still at Junior School, but by the summer of 2019 he will be at secondary school and so I will have more free time. To be honest, I would still prefer to work from home. I don't think children stop needing a caregiver at home for as long as they are still children. I also think it helps a family to function properly if there is one person at home doing the cooking/cleaning/taking to the orthodontist and general support role. We'll see what happens...if I can start finishing my novels that might be all it takes to maintain the status quo.

Should I write about something other than myself now? Probably!

Um... When I look out into the world as I do sometimes and try to assess whether attitudes to mental health are changing I think they might be. I am really not sure though! It does seem to be more acceptable to admit to having had problems with anxiety and so on. I am not sure about the more serious mental health problems - diagnosis still seems to be over-used, probably in order to access services for those more severely affected, without regard to the long-term consequences of these labels for individuals. I still think that once the term schizophrenia, in particular, is discarded there will be much less long-term disability for those who have suffered severe emotional distress.

I am not convinced that people are becoming less judgemental but I think they will have to be eventually, since the more people that are honest about their issues the more 'normal' it will seem. Obviously it is all normal human experience - I have often said that in my opinion anyone could break down, given enough stress - but I am talking about the perceptions of the general public.

There seems to be a backlash about the use of medications currently, as portrayed in the media. The idea seems to be to get people off unnecessary drugs, including statins, sleeping pills and so on - I have hopes that this will include psychiatric medications, in time. At least, medications are being systematically reviewed to see if they are helping and to what extent, which has to be a good thing.

That is about all I am going to write for now. I am pretty much out of the loop of what is happening with all that - I haven't even checked into the Mad in America site for as long as I can remember. I will get there though - the next thing on the list for me is to write a Huffington Post blog. The last one didn't get published because it was too short and I haven't gone back to it since. I will do so though, because I do have the Mind film link now.

For those of you who want to have a quick look, it is below. Imagine as you watch that you hear me saying all the things that they cut from the film - about the negative consequences of the label schizophrenia, about how it is possible to live free of psychiatric medication after that horrible diagnosis (I do!) and so on. Looking back, I don't think I made enough fuss about their cuts, especially as I only agreed to be in the film if I was allowed to say those things! Ah it is anyway.


  1. Not sure why you can't click on link - but try to cut and paste into browser... failing that, Google 'YouTube Mind Charity videos schizophrenia'... Will get my technical adviser to help later (she is at school right now!)

  2. I read your piece about recovering from a nervous breakdown which is very positive.
    My son had catatonic in March and is making a slow recovery. I need all the help I can get.

  3. Hi Alson. I am sorry, I only just found your comment, hence why I am only replying to it now. I do hope your son is continuing to recover. Let me know if I can do anything to help -perhaps email him/you, try to answer any questions either of you might have... I hope you see this reply. All the best, Louise.