‘Words As’ is our regular guest posting. We invite creatives of all ilks to respond to the prompt ‘words as’. This month we welcome author Catherine Evans to the page to share her thoughts.
WORDS AS… HEALING
As a child, curling up to listen to a story was pure pleasure. It didn’t matter if it was a book, a memory, or a made up tale. The rhythm of the spoken word soothed, lulled, healed.
While in primary school, my escape each afternoon and evening was into the words of a story. I would fall into the magic of the Far Away Tree, a cupboard to Narnia, a pirate ship, a horse, the gumnut families. In hindsight, the introvert healed after a day of school and after-school activity.
Christmas holidays were down time, spent devouring words and stories. Nothing beat hours with an incredible book, or hours in the library looking for one. Stories. Astronomy. Nature. Geology. History. The ocean. Australian animals. Photography. Archaeology. Anything and everything captured and fascinated me.
High school was tougher, and someone suggested a journal. Not to write daily words, but to write when emotion threatened to consume me. I wrote and wrote. Hidden in an exercise book, camouflaged by all the same books for a variety of subjects, the words were mine. No one to read them. I was free to spill, and the production of words healed.
I went to uni, then worked in science. To share my fascination with all I’d learned, I wrote. Assignments, then letters and emails to friends, handouts for farmers, articles in newspapers, papers in journals. I wrote to share knowledge, hoping to heal the world.
And then I got sick. Ross River Fever and Glandular Fever laid me low. Almost bed bound, I no longer had words. They’d jumbled in brain fog. The alphabet deserted me. I’d never been so lonely. Bereft. Lost.
I slept and slept. Vivid dreams came to fill the story void. Slowly, so slowly, I began to heal.
I could read an article in the newspaper. I could write a line. A shopping list. Read the whole newspaper. Write haiku.
Eventually I read a short story. A small book. Then I picked up a notebook and wrote words. A stream of consciousness to unlock the jam in my head. It flowed. Words spilled. No edits. No reading back. Just an expulsion of words and emotion.
I remembered that high school exercise book, how I expressed emotion in words—on paper, never aloud. I wrote more. On scattered sheets and random scraps, in beautiful notebooks and cheap exercise books. As words spilled, I healed.
Again, I began to write stories. Then I moved towards publication and a writing career. Crafted and edited, shaped to suit genre. Writing and rewriting. Working hard to conform. I split into two people to achieve my goal. One wrote for my pleasure, the other fought to be right. Confined by rules was not my healing way with words. Nevertheless, I pressed on. My new career in waiting.
I lost my voice as life changed again.
Words were still there but confined. Hemmed in by rules and a throat that was blocked.
Struggling along, I read and read. Still writing by rules, still split.
Slowly, I began to see. My healing comes in the freedom of expression. In baring my soul without judgement. In writing words to learn and to understand what’s tucked into the deepest parts of me.
Fighting against rules is what I’ve always done…and yet here I was again, trying to conform, to make a grade, to meet the needs of someone else. Will I never learn?
Words are my healing. Sometimes they’re my own, but often they come from others with a different wisdom to me. Occasionally, their wisdom unlocks something inside me.
Catherine Evans is a city-born throwback to country genes. After completing an environmental biology degree, she desperately needed to move to the country. A job in agriculture was the perfect escape. After spending eighteen years in agricultural research and gaining a Masters degree in Agriculture, Cath has a passion for rural life.Now loving life on the south coast of NSW, a part of her heart belongs across the mountain ranges in the red dust.
If you want to know more, please visit Catherine’s website www.CatherineEvansAuthor.com