When I was fourteen, I wrote an anthology of poetry. Hand written, set out neatly on blue lined paper, I stapled it together with my name upon the cover. Shyly I handed it to my English teacher at the end of class one day. I don’t know what I was hoping for. Feedback, or encouragement, maybe.
Instead, I found myself called to her office at recess the next day, where she silently handed me back my poetry, before asking gently, tentatively, if maybe I was suicidal? Was there anything I wanted to tell her? I shook my head, not being suicidal, or having any deep dark secrets to divulge. I smiled, explained that I was fine, that I just wanted someone to read my writing. I left her office with her watching me, brow furrowed and lips pursed together.
Somewhere in one of my cupboards, that anthology of poetry still sits, unopened, unwanted.
Looking back, it was bad poetry – of course. What fourteen year old, full of feelings, writes good poetry?
But with the silence of my English teacher, her lack of anything that wasn’t fear for my mental state, I stopped writing poetry.
I just stopped.
That is the power that people hold over the creative process.
Her silence killed me, and I doubt she even realised it.
Ten years later, I wrote a poem again. Ten years. Think about that. It took me ten years to write another poem. I published it here, before panicking. Poetry feels self indulgent, something that angsty teenagers do when their hormones run wild through their awkward gangly bodies.
I enjoy writing poetry and for ten years I stopped doing it because I thought I was no good. But dammit, I’m allowed to be self indulgent.
Creativity is hell.