I can do this

Hello? Hel-loooo?? Is anyone out there? Anyone??

Well, I’ll just leave this here and see if anyone notices.

So look, when I wrote my last post – over 15 months ago! – I had no idea it would be my last post for a while. In fact, that post was the first I’d written in some time so when I wrote it I felt like perhaps I was back. But I wasn’t. I was just making a guest appearance in a show we’ll call “The Silence of Len’s Blog”. (It doesn’t rate that well but it keeps getting renewed.)

So where have I been hiding? What have I been doing? Well, for the first time since I started freelancing back in May 2013, I worked consistently for over a year – moving from employer to employer and project to project without a break. Some months I was juggling multiple projects, even multiple employers.

Given how much sitting in front of a computer and writing I do in my professional life, I find it hard when I’m working to spend my free time doing exactly that: sitting in front of a computer and writing more.

But I have been writing. There’s been a truckload of poetry, mostly scribbled into my notebook, but also typed into my phone (and in some cases shared via Twitter).

I’ve also handwritten a lot of little micro-fiction pieces into my writer’s diary, using its weekly prompts. I’ve viewed these as small writing exercises to keep my mind fit creatively. Like doing daily sit-ups but for writing. But I also entered three of my favourite pieces in the Fish Publishing Flash Fiction Contest last year, and one piece even made it onto the long list.

So writing was on my mind a lot last year. And in fact, the whole time I was working I told myself that the moment I’d get some free time I’d start working again on a project I last worked on in 2013. It started life as an idea for a screenplay. Then I thought it was better suited to a novel, then maybe a novella. But recently I’ve realised it will be best written as a memoir.

The only problem is, I’m not working at the moment and while I’ve kept myself busy doing other things, it’s been three months and I have spent bugger-all time on my project.

It’s made me question whether I really do want to write this thing. I’m a big believer that if you want something you will take steps to get it. If instead you make excuses and create obstacles for yourself, you probably don’t want what it is you say you want.

So why this post now? Well, three recent events have conspired to motivate me.

Firstly, I attended an excellent introductory course on writing memoir, taught by the amazing Lee Kofman. I may write more about this in future, but for the moment suffice to say I had a huge epiphany about my idea as a result of her incredible skill as a teacher and mentor. I left the course that day feeling very positive about what I needed to do.

Secondly, I saw the film Hidden Figures, about three women who epitomized the “stop talking about it and just get out there and do it” ethos that fuelled much of the rights movements in the 1960s and 1970s. After seeing what these three women achieved, I came out of the cinema feeling anything was possible.

And lastly, my very talented 19-year-old niece was recently published in a magazine. Her article was about a deeply personal subject and while I very much admired how well-written it was, what really blew me away was how completely honest she was. How brave she had been to put herself out there in the way she had, acknowledging it was difficult but that she had to do it, to do her subject justice. And I realised if she can show such courage, I can, too.

These three very different experiences all left me thinking and feeling the same thing: Yes, I can do this. And, more importantly, I want to do this. So this post is to announce it to the world. Not that I’m back as a blogger. But that yes, I want to do this. And I can do this.

And I will.


Note: I haven’t yet sought permission from my niece to share her article but I will ask and, if granted, I’ll update this post with a link.


More On Forgiveness…

A friend who read my post on forgiveness raised a few questions about the process of forgiving. Specifically, when you feel someone whom you considered a friend has betrayed you, how do you forgive them and move on with the friendship? Especially if the so-called friend doesn’t even acknowledge that they hurt you.

Let me just clarify that the act of forgiveness, as I see it, is quite a stand-alone process. It doesn’t make the behaviour that was exhibited acceptable or okay. Nor does it have any bearing on what happens to the relationship you have with the person you are forgiving.

When you forgive, you are not saying “I’m okay with what happened to me and I will go back to being treated that way by that person”. Quite the opposite.

You forgive so that the pain and anger within you is released. But you acknowledge that what happened was hurtful and distressing and unacceptable. In some instances it’s an opportunity to promise yourself you will never let yourself be put in that situation again (which is what I did when I forgave the boss who bullied me).

There is no obligation to resume any kind of relationship with the person you are forgiving: that’s totally up to you and it’s only dependent on whether you want the person to be in your life. Similarly, you don’t need to confront the person who has hurt you to tell them what you have gone through because of them and what pain they caused you.

When we’re hurt we often have a little vindication fantasy where we confront the person who has hurt us and they confess their guilt, acknowledge our pain, and apologise. The danger is that despite how you’ve played the scenario out in your head, the person may not react at all like you expect and you may feel doubly hurt as a result.

Often it’s helpful to understand why the person who hurt us behaved as they did. What was their motivation? Did they realise they were hurting us?

You don’t actually need to understand the behaviour, though, to forgive the person exhibiting it. Nor does understanding it make it okay and acceptable. What understanding will help with is working through the issues with the person if you choose to keep them in your life.

Forgiveness is about you. It’s not about the other person. You can forgive, and move on. Whether you choose to keep the person in your life and how you go about achieving that, is a totally different matter. Importantly though, it is a choice.