It would be incredibly pretentious of me, having started writing again only four months ago, to say that I would love to write full time. I’m certainly no JK Rowling or Marian Keyes or Cecelia Ahern. Yet, the more time I spend with my ridiculous thoughts, the more I find myself leaking them onto this page and, more specifically, this blog. And the more I feel that, Yes, this is what I want to do.
From a very early age, I have been acquainted with the written word. My mother, fearing that I would not be accepted into the local mainstream school, taught me to read at the age of three. I was reading before I was potty-trained at the ripe old age of five. When I was in Junior Infants, I had already read all of the class readers. I was bored, which the teacher was not expecting.
I have always been encouraged to write. At a basic level, I was given an electric typewriter at school, and it was through using it that I communicated my basic human needs, such as the need to go to the toilet. I had to type out all the answers to the teacher’s questions, as my speech was on a par with someone who was heavily inebriated. I remember, even at this age, thinking how degrading it was. As far as I was (and still am) concerned, I can talk, I do my best to be understood. It’s up to those to whom I’m talking to, to make an effort to listen.
Even now, however, this doesn’t always work in practice.
When we were making the RTE Documentary, ‘Somebody to Love’, I made it quite clear that my speech was the only part of my disability that I would change, because I feel that people tend to link my slurred, incoherent speech with my cognitive ability. For example, if I have to make a phone call to someone I don’t know, they tend to ask me to put my parents on the phone, or they hang up on me. ‘Call back when you’re sober’, ‘Is there anyone there with you’? ‘Listen, I’m hanging up because I don’t understand what you’re saying,’ are pretty standard responses when I call somebody who doesn’t know me. I dread phone calls, and firmly believe that every single person on the planet should have email or text. So. Much. Easier.
It’s been twenty-five years since I started primary school, and a lot has changed since then. I use a laptop instead of a typewriter, and I can make myself understood when needs be. I’m a wife and a mother; instead of being a dependent, I’m heavily depended upon. I’ve a degree in Trinity and relatively good experience of the working world. Yet, I’m still perceived by (some) people who don’t know me as a victim of unfortunate circumstances, who will never enjoy a decent quality of life; who is in some way inferior or lacking. I endure the staring, the tutting, the ‘isn’t it terrible, the poor pet’, because to verbally object would be futile, like throwing petrol on a roaring fire.
And this is why I’ve started writing again. Admittedly, it would be a bonus if, one day, it became a way for me to put food on the table. For now, I’m just happy that the writer’s block is gone and I’m able to write once more, knowing that at least my words will be understood, even if I’ve nothing of importance to say.