Writer's Life

A Published Poet Part Two

Last year I entered a Mental Health Poetry competition with Make Our Rights Reality (MORR), my poem Did You Know made it in the top 25 and the prize was for my poem to be published in an anthology. The digital anthology has been released, the physical anthology will be out after the lockdown in the UK is lifted.

Did You Know is a poem I wrote about my darkest time a few years ago, when I was suffering with depression. It is a letter I wrote to let those around me know how deep in depression I was. Poetry for me has always helped me process my emotions. Many of these poems stay in a notebook or on my computer, as I once found them too personal to publish. But I saw this competition as an opportunity to make my voice heard amongst those who have suffered with mental health issues.

I am really pleased with this poem. I can look back on the words I wrote and be grateful that I no longer feel that way. But knowing that this anthology will be read by other young people who may be suffering with their mental health and my poem may make them feel less alone, makes me proud.

Did you know?
by Emma-Jane Barlow

Did you know that in my darkest moments,
I imagined a world without my heart beating and I smiled?
Every day, I wished for a way out, searching for salvation,
a path that would lead me towards the light.

Did you know that before I shared the positive picture that you liked,
I was drowning in desolation on the bathroom floor?
On the edge, pierced with panic in my chest, the walls crumbling around me.
Trapped, desperately watching my dense tears descend to the ground.
Alone, clock ticking, waiting for the storm to pass.

Did you know the immeasurable time I spent fighting with my own mind?
A damaged wasteland, a toxic atmosphere, somewhere you would never want to be.
The countless moments I spent revisiting old conversations.
Analysing every-spoken-word, every-emotion-felt.
Exhausted by the endless cycle of never-feeling-good-enough.

Did you know the infinite seconds, minutes, hours that I struggled to find silence?
Wanting just a fleeting moment of peace amidst the chaos of my unruly thoughts.
Every day, I dragged my legs through the mud until the sun set in the sky.
Sleeping, my only sanctuary, my only safe space away from the bleak.
In my dreams, I was free from the demons that held me hostage.

Did you know that despite the glimmer you saw in my eyes, inside my soul was breaking?
The mask I wore was due to the fear of being misunderstood by a disapproving world.
When it slipped, the eyes would stare, the voices would whisper, the fear returned.
No one recognised the hopelessness in my heart, the desire I felt to eliminate the darkness
that was growing inside me, once and for all.

Did you know that although I am walking on solid ground today,
I am waiting for it to dissolve, without warning, beneath my feet once more?
I see the light, I feel the light, I am the light. I can finally breathe without pain.
Yet I know that one day, when I’m not watching, my demons will return.

View the full anthology here: http://makeourrightsreality.org.uk/young-people-use-poetry-to-speak-out-about-mental-health/

Writer's Life

Dream Big Or Don’t Dream At All.

dream-big

I think this is the most confident I have ever felt about my writing. I currently have 8,000 words of my first novel drafted, it doesn’t sound a lot compared to the 80,000 word mark I am hoping to achieve but for me it is a big accomplishment. I tend to bore easily with my story ideas but I strongly believe in this one. I might be currently writing The Pendant but that doesn’t stop me developing other pieces of writing. I am in the process of redrafting a poetry collection, I submitted it last year for my Poetry class and my tutor told me with a few more edits it could be published, so I am taking her advice and I am trying to polish it and will hopefully submit it to a competition when it is completed. There are fifteen poems in the collection and I have considered adding a few more, the collection is titled Beneath My Feet and the themes throughout the collection are place, landscape and time.

I also have the ambition to write a short story collection, I have a few ideas and would like the theme to be love, finding love and losing love. I have a few short stories that I have already written that could be apart of this collection and I have plenty of story ideas scribbled in my journal for new short stories. I am determined to make this an academic year of writing. When I finish my third year of university I would like at least 50,000 words of my novel manuscript completed and a collection of poetry and short stories. I am also studying screen writing this year and even though I enjoy it I don’t inspire to carry on with this medium after university.

I have always been overly ambitious, I just wish my efforts matched this ambition. I am indecisive, easily distracted and easily bored which definitely makes being a writer a harder journey to endure. I like to set myself aims that are possibly out of my reach, then I won’t be disappointed if I don’t reach them because they were big dreams in the first place. I’ve always believed that you should dream big or don’t dream at all. I am really excited to go back to university and carry on with my studies, I know that my last year is going to be my hardest year but I am going to try my best and hopefully I will have several creative pieces ready to be published when I graduate.

I would love to have my poetry or my short stories published. I know it’s going to be a few more years until my first novel will be ready to be submitted somewhere, so even though I am writing it I am working on other projects so I can get them published too. I have big dreams. I want to walk into Waterstones and see my book on the shelf.  I want people to get lost in a story that I created, I want people to fall in love with the characters that only existed in my imagination and I want people to eagerly anticipate reading my novels when I write them. I want to have a successful career, possibly publishing or editing I’m not entirely sure yet. I have big dreams and I am determined that they are all going to happen.  Every writer is an optimist. Canadian poet Margret Atwood quotes that ‘Any writer is an optimist. Why? Number one: they think they’ll finish their book. Number two: they think somebody will publish it. Number three: they think somebody will read it. That’s a lot of optimism. It’s optimistic in and for itself because it believes in human communication.’