In a couple of weeks I launch my first book, it’s called Banana me beautiful.
Most of the time I’m too busy to notice how I’m feeling, so I’ve stopped today to write a bit about it.
The book is a journey of poems I wrote as a child, teenager and adult and there’s artwork and photography too (find out more here). It’s a risk to reveal yourself through writing or art. But at the same time, it’s wonderful. Even if no one reads or sees it, you’ve created something new. You’ve taken something from inside and given it a physical form. I feel most alive when I’m creating. Saying all that, this book is scary for me.
One day I’d like to get married. I’d like to find someone I’d happily spend the rest of my life with. The problem is, I dread an entire day of people looking at me. And this book is like that but worse, I’m inviting people to look at my lifetime. So why would I? Just don’t bother and stop whining (I hear you say). Well here are two good reasons:
1) I’ll use it to run storytelling and writing workshops. I want to encourage people to see themselves and their stories as unique and valuable. The younger they hear this the better.
2) I’m publishing with Chipmunka, a mental health publisher. One in four people struggle with mental health issues in their lifetime but often they suffer in silence. By sharing some of my journey in this book, I hope people will feel less alone and more able to talk.
I struggled on the inside growing up. I created the image above at age 15, it’s huge (81cm by 60 cm) . That’s me sitting on the floor with my knees up (yes I’m represented by a banana). There was a happy sunny world out there but I wasn’t part of it. I was trapped by the bars in my own head.
I’m nearly 30 now and in the last three years I’ve found freedom. Freedom to be myself and enjoy it, freedom to write and freedom from fear. As a result I’ve had the courage to do things I’d never have dared to imagine I could do. I’ve read a poem to the Queen, started writing for Greenerleith, I’ve written and presented a CBeebies pilot with BBC Scotland, I’ve been commissioned to make films and podcasts. I’ve written poems about energy saving lightbulbs, puffins and wanting to pull the emergency chord in the disabled toilet. My book’s on the way, I’ve started this blog and I’ve written stories for children like the Little Oak. He stops listening to the taunts of the other plants and sings:
There’s only one like you
And only one who was made to do
The things that you can do
That’s what I want to say to you too. That’s what ‘Banana me beautiful’ is about.