When it came to writing creative work on the daily, I was more prolific three to four years ago than I currently am; there were many reasons for this. Often when I wrote, I took the wretchedness I was feeling in various precarious states of mental health to make something out of my tender experiences – art that people could read or watch on stage and appreciate, while allowing myself some space to detach from it. Playwriting and poem making became a way for me to expunge nightmarish feelings surrounding the difficult interpersonal experiences I carried around with me, experiences I carried around until I could find the words to let them live outside of myself, so I could find some release from them.
While good at my craft, I recognized how unsustainable it all was. Eventually I started to get some much-needed therapy, found other outlets, strategies, and methods for integration, and I began to feel a lot healthier. The impulse, the obsession with writing as purging started to rest quieter within me. I also started to work in content marketing as a freelance copywriter and editor, which in some ways I used as an excuse to not write as much of my own work. I think in a lot of ways I’m still scared of re-evaluating a new writing practice because what if I only wrote well or made decent work because I was sick? What if I’m not really a strong creative without anxiety or fear pressing its hands up against my back?
I’m a training psychotherapist now and between a varied and manageable work and school schedule, 2018 is offering me the opportunity to rediscover where the desire to write lives within me now, as it is irreversibly different than what it was before. For the time being, I am trying to set aside two hours a day, typically after or before work, to test some pieces out. My writing flows more freely before 9am, so some days I try to start by 6:30 or 7; admittedly I’m not always on time. If I can’t sustain the whole two hours, I spend the remainder of that time reading work by others or applying for publication.
It helps me to be working on a collaborative chapbook with fellow poet Amanda Earl based out of Ottawa; our email correspondences inspire me, and I am happy to feed off another writer’s energy when I am struggling to find my fire. I am also trying my hand at prose for the first time and liking it as it is an avenue I owe very little of myself to, and one that has virtually no expectation of me. I do not write plays anymore and think that is for the best.
When I left the theatre to let my creative voice out more authentically through poetry, I wanted it to remain something I did for me and not for others; in doing so I fostered no dreams (or misconceptions) about making it my sole career (though I respect all striving career artists and writers and hope to support their work whenever I am able and given the opportunity to). I wanted my passion for my own work to speak for itself, and that passion mutated into something ugly and soul-stealing when I was doing it to get proof for my self worth in a cut-throat industry.
My interests are changing now; for one, I’ve found my true calling and that has been instrumental to my finding necessary grounding within my life. I only hope I can find more space for writing as I continue finding my balance, as I stop needing it to fill some void or exorcise some demon. And I’m getting there.
Suzanna Derewicz is a writer and training psychotherapist working and living in Toronto. She has recently been published on Metatron's OMEGA blog, in Arc Poetry Magazine, Peach Mag, and the Minola Review, among others. She also occasionally does interviews for the Puritan's Town Crier Blog. Her debut chapbook Maggie Monologues was released in Fall 2016 by words(on)pages press.