We have always had a room upstairs reserved for me. When we moved in over 7 years ago, Mr Karen named it ‘the art room’, hoping I would one day use it for drawing or painting. I’ve always called it ‘the junk room’, because it has become a storage space for a lifetime of creative efforts that I all but abandoned at the end of high school. I’ve always loved (and had some skill at) drawing and writing, but I peaked in primary school. I’ve blogged about my junk room here.
This year, the art/junk room’s been seeing more action as I’ve been writing regularly, both for the blog and for myself. It’s a lovely space, relatively detached from the main house, where I can really crawl into my own head and go nuts.
A few weeks ago, Mr Karen and I went out for my birthday. As he drove home to pick me up and take me to my favourite Japanese restaurant, he suggested I take one day a week “for yourself. To write. To do anything, but not housework”.
It was the best birthday gift I could have imagined, at a time when I needed it most. I had spent the first half of my birthday morning alternating between crying and searching for jobs at my old university. As it seems, looking for the wrong thing in the wrong place.
I’ve always wanted to be a writer. I remember the exact moment I shelved any idea of writing, or a creative career. It was though as soon as the inspiration hit me, it was neatly folded and put away again, never to be considered again. It was in 1995, just before my first round of work experience in year 10. I told my mum I wanted to do journalism.
“But you’ll never get a job! There’s a recession!” she squawked.
So instead of doing work experience with a newspaper or magazine, I did work experience in an indie record store, where the owner was a 40-year-old man who smelt like baby powder. After a few days, once we were friends, he told me stories of sleeping with year 12 girls from my school, while they were wearing their school uniform. Needless to say, I felt like I earned my $25 for the week.
In year 12, I told mum I wanted to study fine art. As we rolled down our bumpy, dirt road in her four-wheel drive, again she told me I would never get work. I yelled back “But you’ve never even seen my art! I’m actually good at it!”
“You’ve never shown it to me!” she replied. And I hadn’t. My work was too personal, too angry, too harsh for me to show my mum. I didn’t care that other students saw the work, but I was terrified that if mum saw it she would see how sad I was. (Terribly sad, in case you were wondering). I didn’t want to disappoint her, or make her worry.
I cried all the way to school that day. And soon after chose a BA at Monash University as my first preference for university: easy enough to get in, safe enough for mum to approve and open enough to find something I want to do with my life. Not writing or art. As it turns out, perhaps this path was too open-ended because I ended up working in administration and then management at the same University.
So I never pursued writing or art, even though I feel like if I was made to do anything (other than be a mum or a loving partner), it’s these two things.
Fast forward to my birthday. Mr Karen and I talking steps to arrange one day a week for actual bum on seat writing/drawing action. Doing whatever my flaky creative brain wants to do. Exciting! Terrifying! Like staring into an abyss, not having any idea what might be in there, but being drawn in nonetheless.
This past Easter weekend was a new beginning for me. I tidied the junk room/art room/office (COMPLETE MESS!) and made clearly defined workspaces. I cleared out my art folio and kept only the good pieces, the pieces that speak to me, the pieces that I am proud of. I went through boxes and boxes of junk from my teen years and reminisced at the funny and smart people I’ve been lucky enough to know and love. I wondered if I am the only grown woman to have kept every single card (birthday or christmas) they had ever been given: a big hello to Rowan W. from 2B!
Ultimately, I took the confused, naive, and sad girl I was in high school, and focused on creating a space for the person I could be. I took the first draft, edited out all of the rough bits, hopefully leaving space for a new story to unfold. Because if there’s anything writing or drawing have taught me, it’s not about the marks you make, it’s what you leave on the page that counts.
The best thing of all is that my mum will be taking care of 1 or 2 boys so I can have some time for me. To have her support means the world to me, after so many years of feeling like I would never have it.
So here we go world, if I stuff up now it’s not because I didn’t have the space or the support. Wish me luck.
Tell me about your dreams. What are they? How will you make them happen?
I’m linking up this post with Diminishing Lucy’s new linky, Drab to Fab. Pop over to share stories of renewal and new beginnings or get some inspiration for your own transformation.