New Year, New Story, New Win

What are we all thinking about in the New Year? Weight loss? Going sober? Giving up cigarettes? Spending more time with family? Becoming vegan? Finding love? Travelling? Learning? Decorating? There’s a million ways we utilise January as a conduit to a ‘better’ life. Thats’s how I USED to operate at the start of every year. A promise to be healthy, take up a sport, learn how to drive, be a better daughter, stay in touch with people. There were so many I can’t even remember, but I do remember that I only saw a teeny tiny fraction (maybe 2%) of them through to the end.

Why didn’t I see the other 98% through? The resolutions were too hard, wildly unrealistic, I couldn’t be arsed and / or I didn’t see any fast results. My good intentions were bypassed as soon as the terrain got rocky – I guess it was an average of just 7 days before I started to flag, forget, ignore or cheat the system.

Stupidly, I was the one who came up with the fucking system, but I still eventually deemed it crap and gave up. My own ideas were sub-par and not worth seeing through.

Inevitably, by February I was smoking, drinking, eating burgers and ignoring my phone again.

So when 2022 arrived those same tired ideas were circling my brain, each one telling me I had to follow it’s path to success. I worked hard last year to lose a substantial amount of weight, but because of physical and mental limitations I achieved nothing else. Nothing.

2022 is already different thanks to my efforts in 2021. I’ve found a hobby, a love, a passion, and it keeps me company. It’s here for me day and night, rain or shine. Eating a brownie, roast dinner (with extra yorkshires 😜), or chinese won’t have a bearing on the plan. Exercising and pushing myself to reluctantly be active doesn’t matter either. I don’t need to travel and thankfully I can have my vape (my e-cig) in my hand or on my lap the whole time.

Writing.

In my 40 years living on this dirty circle we call earth, I’ve never found a single other passtime or hobby that fulfils me, makes me happy, makes me productive and (most importantly) gives me a reason to be proud.

In my 30’s I became focussed. I lost weight (the first time, post to follow on this soon), I left my marriage, I became an athlete, I took part in local and national sporting events, I met my partner, we decided to walk the rocky path to parenthood, we got a dog, I gave up smoking (and moved to the vape) and I stopped drinking altogether.

This all sounds great, but none of it came from resolutions. They were just gradual, small chunks from a large goal. Private achievements that I gave myself. There was never a big plan or huge goal per se. It just happened. I never had an opportunity to watch the change and / or growth, because I was too busy getting on with it. For the same reasons I was never proud. I didn’t take a moment to reflect on the achievemets and realise it was MY hard work that made it happen. I can only do so retrospectively and as I’ve now managed to undo a lot of that hard work it feels like I have no right to be proud of my 30’s. It was a decade of trying, persevering, work, patience and winning and I let it all just pass me by.

Then my mental health destroyed everything.

How do I feel about my 40’s? There’s no room for passive pride here. Writing is my true love (after my family and dog, of course), writing sits waiting for me, in moments like this one, allowing me to spew all of my fears, thoughts, ramblings and distractions all over a keyboard and into this blog and into my fiction.

Despite my mental and physical health continuing to deteriorate, I have found something that moulds into that gap. The nights of pain, tears and frustration still happen, but after the worst of it I can sit in front of this screen and turn the pain into something positive, thought provoking, honest or (sometimes) funny. The funny is rare though. It’s mostly sad and morose, but the catharsis it gives me is still real, whether 5 people or a million people read it.

A huge portion of my best work has come from those very strange moments. Little pauses in my day (or night) where I’ve been lonely, sad or I’m hurting and I turn the related emotions into delicious story or a dollop of opinions.

It’s the first time anything has worked. The first time a distraction from the darkness is productive. And I think that might be why it works – it’s a solution that makes the space I take up on the planet actually useful and worthwhile.

Which leads me neatly on to this month. January 2022. It has ALREADY been a bit of a bitch to me, but I’m determined that my relationship with 2022 will improve. I need to work on a few things, but eventually she will look after me and make me less stressed. That’s the last thing I need – the whole year to be working against me, like 2021 did. 😥😥. I know many of you went through the same.

I set aside some time in December to write some 101 word entries for the Tortive Theatre Flash 101 competition – it’s a comp that’s close to my heart, having been one of the first I felt confident enough to enter at the start of this journey. I’ve entered every month since.

The theme this month is ‘New Year, New Me’ and, as I mentioned before, each story entered has to be EXACTLY 101 words (excluding the title). Sounds much easier than it really is in practice, but that’s one of the reasons I find it so fun to do.

Guess what? After months of entering and having my work selected, I finally, unbelievably, incredibly, strangely, nervously, awkwardly and silently WON!

The winning entry can be seen here, the full story is also below for you to have a read. I hope you like the entry and the important message it contains.

I started wearing scarves this week and, as my writing-luck seems to manifest from nowhere these days, I’ve decided to keep the scarf wearing as a superstitious ritual. I will become ‘The Scarved Writer’ from here on in. Let’s hope it brings more winning entries too.

Finally…the accompanying picture.

The story below has a message that would have been easier to draw for in December, having been the party season and plenty of opportunities to draw party and celebratory scenes. Alas, the win was announced in January.

I can’t possibly draw the story with any close relevance. It’s impossible. I don’t have time. It’ll just be shit. BUT…what can I draw that will give people hope? Hope after a terrible situation. Hope after a difficult incident? Hope after unexpected downward luck? Well, for me it’s blossom. The white to pink hues of an apple tree getting ready for its fruit in the spring. Blossom always makes me smile and always gives me a clean slate to start a new chapter with.

If anything, spring is my time for resolutions. Not Januray.

Anyway, enjoy. And thank you Tortive Theatre for another great comp. I’m going to run out of ideas soon 😢😢…but I will, whatever happens, keep trying. #NeverGiveUp

**********

The Fun we Missed

Last year’s bonus got Hannah her dream car.

It was fast, modern, extravagant and she’d earned it.

She visited colleagues at the next New Year’s party. There was drinking, laughter and general high spirits. They’d missed each other after Covid-19 restrictions, so Hannah showed off her treasured motor.

Driving friends’ home after the party, high jinks on the back seat caused distractions. Whilst leaning over, Hannah lost her grip and the steering wheel veered in the opposite direction.

The next new year’s bonus was accompanied by a message of condolence and requests not to drink and drive.

Future parties were cancelled.

**********

Published by stephc2021

Hi! I'm Steph, an amateur writer and illustrator specialising in Mental Health and being a self-confessed Spoonie. My website is home to any successful fiction I create, with stories that have won so far covering difficult subjects such as baby loss and mental health in grief as well as some funny and heart-warming tales when I get the inspiration. Every drawing and picture on my website was created by me. I spend a lot of time coming up with illustrations to accompany all of my posts and pages. I try to create original content across all of my channels, whether I'm writing about my own fiction or just generally musing on mental health or my own issues. I want to be part of the change because I believe the understanding of MH in the UK is getting better, but has a very long way to go. By being honest about my own struggles and symptoms I think others will relate and hopefully it will encourage them to talk to someone and get the help and support they need. Long term my goal is to help children too, help them understand their own mental health and how to help with the mental health of those around them. I live in the UK with my partner, daughter and dog, I swear frequently and I adore a well made, traditional, gooey, chocolatey, delicious brownie.

One thought on “New Year, New Story, New Win

  1. Congrats on winning that flash story competition! It’s great proof to ourselves to win something sometimes, just to prove ourselves that we’re not merely ‘putting out words’ and are actually creating things people want to consume. Anyway, wishing you all the best in your writing journey!

    Like

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