(seriously don’t run with scissors)
A guest post by a brilliant writer, and friend of The Roaring Girls, Michael Mann.
2020 is going to be my year. I am ACTUALLY going to do all my new year’s resolutions this time! New year...NO... New decade new me. This year is going to be different.
Funny how nine months later you look back to January 1st and laugh at all the promises you make yourself. May that be travelling more, reaching your goal weight or starting to write that novel you’ve been thinking about. But life has a funny way of turning round to you and saying “Nope.” I would say it is standard every new year and the months that follow that you just don’t do anything you promised yourself. Life gets in the way or you just simply forget, even just two weeks after the fireworks and the booze. But one thing I told myself this year came true.
This year is going to be different.
No one saw what this year was going to be, and if you did I will ask you to tell me the lottery numbers for next week. Covid changed the world, locked us up inside with a two-month sentence as we ate, drank, discovered new and old hobbies.
During one of the many weekly Zoom Pub Quizzes that started out as fun but ended up being a huge commitment on a Thursday evening. While talking to a work colleague, I discovered she loved writing. It was something I never knew about her while working in the same office. This led us to talking about her work, and how I used to write back in college. We shared stories and ideas, then she told me about the writing group she was a part of, Five Writers London and they were looking for their fifth member. She told me to submit a story for their latest project and suddenly, that one thing that stopped me from writing ten years ago hit me once again. Fear.
Fear of rejection. Fear of not being good enough or even just fear of not finding the time. But then when you are in the middle of a global pandemic, you suddenly find yourself with all the time in the world and no distractions around you. So, I put pen to paper and found myself writing. Now don’t get me wrong, fear was still there poking his pointed head over my notepad telling me that my grammar is terrible, and that this idea was stupid, but I tried to ignore it. Which isn’t the easiest thing to do and it took many attempts starting over, re-doing drafts and reading them over and over.
Fear won and I was defeated yet again. Dramatically depressed I took some time away from the notepad and decided there was only one thing to do to distract myself. Binge a Netflix show. Something new? No. Something, I have watched over-and-over obviously. It was episode three of a musical comedy, and sat on my phone not paying attention, when a song came on. Face your Fears. I laid there and listened to the lyrics, though yes comical actually gave me a confidence boost. I sat up, grabbed my notepad and began scribbling a new idea.
When the day came to submit to a group of complete strangers I have never met, and for them to read and then critique me live on Zoom, I oddly didn’t feel the fear I was lingering for the two week build up, I felt a relief as it was out of my hands and I was actually happy with what I had submitted.
Was the feedback that I got good? When I published the story online and on social media did people leave nice comments, or did suddenly everyone become a writing critic? That doesn’t matter. To me, what mattered most was reconnecting to my love of writing and facing a fear that had bubbled over me for over ten years and stopped me doing something that made me happy. Yeah, my grammar could be worked on. Yes, I may not be the next J.R.R Tolkien or J.K Rowling (but who wants to be J.K Rowling anymore?) But during the global pandemic, it’s been time to reflect and start new adventures. So, if you are starting a patch-work quilt, opening a new business or becoming the fifth member of a writer's group. I've learnt that 2020 isn’t the best year but like every year that has passed and probably like all the years that are to come, it’s had its ups and downs. We’ll make it towards the end of 2020 if we face our fears, but please, don’t run with scissors!
Check out more of Michael's writing at www.fivewriters.london/michael