Turn It Off

I watch people pass me by and I wonder what their life is like. For example, does that guy have a loving wife and does she treat him right or why does that teenager look so worried? What does she have to worry about? She is still so young. I watch people enjoying their lives with smiles on their faces and having no signs of regrets across their eyes. They have the simpler life.

Whereas, I walk around with a weight hanging on my shoulders and heart. Something is eating away at me, a voice. No, not just one voice, several voices. I don’t recognise them. They haunt my thoughts and dreams with statements such as “you’re worthless,” “you’ll never make it” and “no one knows you exist.” Sometimes, these voices take the shape of loved ones I have lost such as my Aunt Anne.

They escape my mind and manifest into real apparitions. I saw my Aunt Anne today. She sat next to me while I was having my lunch. She was so thin that her bones protruded through her skin and her hair fell off into her fidgety hands, leaving bald spots on her head (Cancer is a slow and painful death). She looked at me and said gurgling through blood that was flowing from her mouth “You’re nothing.”

My mother feared these afflictions. She wanted to get help for me. She brought me to a psychiatrist and she got me taking prescription drugs. They make me dizzy and emotionally drained but they don’t stop the wars in my mind. I was called every nasty thing you could think of such as “Crazy”, “the freak”. My particular favourite was the “modern-day Norman Bates.” I didn’t concern myself with the nastiness of young people. I had my own problems. I couldn’t turn it off. I couldn’t turn off the horrid voices in my head. The meds couldn’t stop them and they did not rest. I could still hear them when I slept. There was no off-switch. That is until I met you!

You were a stranger to me. You took a chance with me when you came over to talk to me that Tuesday in French class. You didn’t treat me like an insect that needed to be squished. You didn’t see me as a freak just like everyone else did. You saw me as a person and that felt nice. As time went on, we spent more time together. Your laugh lit me up in my dark days and your touch electrified my body. We went out to bars and drank. You introduced me to tequila shots which caused my eyes to burn. You got me into new music such as Fleetwood Mac and the Killers. At first, I fought off my afflictions when I was around you. I didn’t want you to see the demons that were clawing inside my brain. But, I started to realise that the voices in my head became mute whenever I was around you. I could finally turn it off. I was no longer held back by my condition. I began to laugh more and I felt free for the first time in my life.

But the voices were right all along. I am worthless and I’ll never be able to make it in this world. The voices were gone for now but that does not mean they won’t come back. I didn’t want you to get involved with someone like me. A person who has to see a psychiatrist three times a week, who has to take 5 different drugs to dull their senses, who wakes up in a cold sweat or panics when she sees something that she knows isn’t real but who is still terrified of them. I couldn’t do that to you.

So I let you go by lying. I told you that you meant nothing to me. I told you that I used you to blow off steam. You denied the statements I was proclaiming but I remained strong and continued ramming them into you. It was hard seeing you coming to the realisation that I was serious and that this was over.

Everything started crashing down after that. The walls I built for myself came crumbling down and my demons came back with a vengeance. But they were almost nurturing towards me. They knew I would come back to them and that terrified me. Now, I question myself on whether or not, I made the right choice. I was a fool to let you go. You were the one good thing in my life and I ruined it. You made me feel safe. I guess it’s my turn to keep you safe and keeping you away from me is safe. I’m a ticking time-bomb just waiting to explode! It’s only a matter of time.

 

This extract is a work of fiction. I dedicate this extract to young people who suffer from mental illnesses. Stay strong and if you seek help, tell someone you trust.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Interview with a Writer #2

Hey guys! I’m back with another Interview with a Writer. This time, I’m chatting with a young writer named Shane Vaughan, the chief-editor of Stanzas (look at my previous posts if you want to know what Stanzas is). He is also an actor and editor of a new theatrical company called Cannibals Not Canadians (I will leave a link below). He currently lives in Cork in Ireland but he comes down every month to Limerick to help organise the Stanzas events.

Q1: How long have been writing?

I’ve been writing for roughly seven or eight years. I started with creative writing in English class and have been serious about it for the last three years or so.

Q2: Have you ever been published in a magazine, newspaper etc?

Yep. I’ve had a handful of poems published but my stories are doing better. I have three pieces coming out in June in three different magazines.

That’s class Q3. What books/poems have influenced your writing?

I got pretty obsessed with Sylvia Plath and J.D Salinger when I was younger, and their style really influenced me. That idea of writing as catharsis was very important to me. But as I’ve gotten older and written a bit more I’d say I’m much more influenced by Stephen King and Phillip Pullman: tell a story and tell it well.

I love Plath and Pullman. I have yet to read any of King’s books. Q4. What other writers do you idolise?

Idolise is a good word. I adore many; Rowling; Tolkien; martin; actually lots of fantasy now I think of it haha. But I try not to idolise. The writers I admire are unique in their own way. Great but unique. I want to be unique too.

Q5. Do you recall how your interest in writing originated?

It started with my mum reading me stories. Then my teacher trying to get me to express myself.

English teacher? Q6. Are you reading any good books at the moment?

English teacher yep!

At the moment I’m reading a biopic on Robert openheimer, he helped invent the first nuclear bomb. I also just finished the first in a series of books, the mortal engine quadrilogy, they’re both great!

It was the same with my English teacher. Q7. Besides you, who else is in charge of Stanzas?

There’s me, I do the chapbook side of things, Caleb Brennan organises poets, Jared organises the non-poet events, and Dan does a lot of the on the night work. We’re a slick team

xD Q8. Who came up with the idea for setting up Stanzas?

Well to be fair it was maeve and abigail who came up with the idea. Me and the boys were chatting about writing and how we didn’t feel there was a home for younger writers. So the girls asked us to do it there and now here we are!

And here yee are Q9. What was the inspiration behind forming stanzas?

Pretty much just that we wanted a cool space in the city for the arts. That and we love listening to good writing.

Q10. How long has Stanzas been running now?

April was our tenth month!

Q11. How many people would you say attend Stanzas monthly events?

We usually rope in fifty in average. Sometimes more sometimes less. Last Friday, we had over sixty.

Q12. How do you organise and maintain Stanzas events monthly such as how do you come up with the themes, how do you chose the guest poets etc?

We meet up every few months and plough through a big list. So in January we organised the next six months’ worth of stuff. Caleb seems to know every poet on the planet which is class! We try to make the themes link up with something in the month. So may is themed in equality for the referendum (vote!). Then we also try to do something a little different each month to keep things fresh. So in April we had three limerick singer songwriters come in to showcase their work.

And each event is planned really well and finally, Q13. What do you hope that the creative people who come to Stanzas get out of the experience?

If they enjoy their night and get inspired and maybe hopefully in ten years’ time look back as they’re launching their first book and they’ll say it all started with stanzas. Or maybe they’ll just have a swell Friday. It’s all good to me. ^^

If any of yee are interested in seeing what Stanzas is about, look up their YouTube page or if you live in Ireland, come down to Limerick for the monthly events J I’ll leave links to Stanzas WordPress, Facebook and YouTube account below! Its great stuff that they are doing and I hope they keep going with it for several years.

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCIhtHvI8tpK1uk-p-mBG–w

https://www.facebook.com/StanzasLCK

https://stanzascellardoor.wordpress.com/

https://www.facebook.com/CannibalsNotCanadians?pnref=lhc

Devotion

Devotion is defined as having love/loyalty to someone or some religion you follow. To me, devotion is lacking in this society. People have started hating the world around them and they can’t trust anyone anymore.

The world is a cruel and shitty place, let’s be honest! There are a lot of terrible people in this world who would rather see you burn at the stake then help you. Some of those people may even end up as dictators one days and would lead to even more chaos and hatred in the world. Trust and devotion is a foreign concept to someone like me.

I’d look at people around me making friends and letting them in on their secrets. Why tell anyone your secrets? Why trust anyone with your inner thoughts and with who you are? Ultimately, they are going to disappoint you. They are going to betray you and make you question who you are. Why give someone that power over you? Trust is myth or it has just become obsolete.

I’d look at couples holding hands or the intimacy between friends and think: all of that is pointless because it doesn’t last. They are just setting themselves up for heartbreak. I felt I was making the right choice, distancing myself from people. Being alone and not letting anyone in kept me safe.

Then I met “The Twins”. I don’t even know how to begin describing them to you. They were forces of nature, one being the fearless and strong person and the other who was peaceful and had a heart of gold. They had a devotion and trust in each other that I had never seen before.

Their friendship wasn’t faked or short-lived. Their friendship was real.

They would die for each other and that brought a tear to my eye. They would never betray each other. After meeting them, I could no longer say that trusting people is stupid and worthless. It is possible to trust someone with your whole being and know you trusted the right person.

“The Twins” had that. It changed my perspective on trust. Trusting people isn’t a fruitless effort. Their trust in each other allowed me to see the possibility of maybe finally opening up to someone. Letting people in is the hard part but once you trust them, the horrors of the world seems far away. If you trust one person, it makes everything in life easier. You don’t have go through these things alone.

Dedicated to the two coolest girls in my life that I have the pleasure in calling them my friends.

Purpose of writing?

I find that in our modern society, writers are misunderstood. I do get people asking me what genre I write with peaked curiosity. I love it when they ask me questions about my work. But there are others that give you the look of uncertainty and question your logic for choosing such a profitless hobby. They ask me questions such as “are you going to pursue that as a career?” or “couldn’t you do something else? How about being a lawyer?”

I am well aware that writing isn’t a guaranteed professional career. I don’t do it for the prospect of earning millions just like J.k Rowling, because I know that would be unlikely. I do it because I love it.

We, as human beings, find it hard to express our innermost thoughts with our voice. Some use the written word to help them speak. I truly don’t know why I started writing or why I love it so much. Maybe part of the reason is what writers can do for people. The stories and characters that they create can help people out there who feel like their life is meaningless. I don’t know.

Some people have said to me that writing is for make-believe, not the real world. Perhaps, they are right. But I see writing as more than that. Sure, I can create a fictional universe that consists with men with long beards and women with three boobs (to people with weird fetishes out there- joking of course:)). But it’s more than that. I think it’s a writer’s job to unravel the mysteries of humanity, the way we behave and to define the heart of a person.

Life is full of obstacles that lead us to question who we are and where we stand. I believe writers try to solve that through their writing: to make sense of the world and the people that surround us. Well, we can try to the best of their abilities. The world is a mystery. People are a mystery.

“I could hear my heart beating. I could hear everyone’s heart. I could hear the human noise we sat there making, not one of us moving, not even when the room went dark”- Raymond Carver.

Favourite Authors #1: Jk Rowling

If you haven’t lived under a rock for the past 20 years, everyone knows who J.K Rowling is. She is the best-selling author of the Harry Potter series which has received positive feedback from people of all ages and has sprouted a successful movie franchise.

I loved the Harry Potter films. I grew up watching Philosopher Stone and Chamber of Secrets. I have watched them at least 20 times. But I never read the books. Before the age of 11, I hated reading. It was J.k Rowling that got me into reading. I read the first Harry Potter book and fell in love with it. I read it in the space of two days (that’s fast for me) and bought a collection of the books. I have now been trying to get my two sisters into the books. I have succeeded with one sister. The other one is more stubborn, I’m afraid. J.k Rowling’s creation of this world by using her words amazed me. It intrigued me and led me to read many more fantasy novels such as The Lord of the Rings (which ultimately led me to every other genre). And you could say she is the one that inspired me to start writing. This idea of creating worlds and characters that didn’t exist fascinated me. I started writing fantasy novels and short stories at a young age then moved on to more personal writing.

I love the way she creates her characters such as Hermione Granger and Severus Snape. Hermione has a strong sense of who she is and doesn’t follow the crowd. She is her own person. Snape is seen as evil and untrustworthy in the stories, but Joanne created him to be a complex character, stuck between the two sides, the light and the dark. It showed that we all have good and evil inside us. Her writing is immersive. Her descriptive writing on settings, food, the plot and the complexity of her characters draws you in as a reader.

I see her as an inspiration because she came from poverty. She wrote Harry Potter at a time in her life where she worked hard to try and provide for her daughter. She couldn’t have imagined that her book about a boy wizard would make her famous and earn her millions.

She wrote the book because she enjoyed. She didn’t do it for money or success. It was a hobby that she loved which ultimately led to the most popular book series in history. She also supports many charities such as Lumos and Comic Relief. What about you guys? what author/writer inspired you to write or got you into reading? Let me know I love to hear it 🙂 To finish off, here’s my favourite documentary about  J.k Rowling:

Writers Block! HELP!

Recently, I have been in a runt. I can’t place my thoughts onto paper. Every time, I place a pen in my hand and try to write, I freeze! This can only be one thing: Writers Block. This becomes a bitch for writers. If you are writing an essay for college or writing a poem, Writers Block can stop you in your tracks. It’s like a wall is dividing up your mind. The creative part of your brain is separated from the rest and shut down. All that is left is the logical part of your brain.

Formulating words and placing them onto paper becomes a struggle. I have been ripping my hair out for the last few days trying to get rid of the block. I have been filling my days with watching addictive television shows (Game of Thrones) and watching YouTubers playing hilarious challenges (Smosh and Pewdiepie) – Don’t judge me. And I still couldn’t get out of my predicament. One of the things that aid me in writing is listening to music. Once I acquire an idea, I start listening to my playlists on my phone and the idea expands in my mind.

That hasn’t been working for me for the last few days. It is really frustrating! My way of dealing with it is to wait for it to pass. Stay away from my notebook and take time to let your mind rest. Spend the time watching ridiculous shows, videos and meet up with friends. Luckily, Writers Block doesn’t last forever. It will pass and you’ll be able to write again J

And if you still find yourself unable to get rid of the block, look up some tips online *shrugs* It can happen to anyone and it can be a pain in the ass.

Have a lovely day, everyone.

The Words

It all started with a look. You gave me a knowing glance as you pretended to have your nose buried in a book. You stood cool, calm and collected, holding Poe’s collected works and maintaining eye contact with me. Your hazel eyes were warm and welcoming. You initiated the conversation by talking about literature. I still look back at that first encounter as wonderful. I left feeling exhilarated and excited at the prospect of meeting you again. It didn’t take you long to contact me and organise our first date. You took me out for a few drinks at Flannery’s bar. You were a polite and kind goofball. Even though my hair was a mess and I was sweating out of nerves, you still said I was beautiful. You didn’t seem to care. Your hand remained intertwined with mine for the whole evening.

I was yours after that night. We texted each other almost every night and I leapt with joy whenever I got to see you. I loved your passion for music, for Shakespeare. I loved our long conversations about our favourite plays and poems. I loved the nights when I would come to your house and lay beside you listening to My Chemical Romance and The Fray. You paid attention to me and my thoughts. You made me feel wanted for the first time in my life. The world hadn’t treated me fairly. Now, you were this wonderful thing that kept me sane and happy.

You knew everything about me and I comforted at the thought. There were no secrets between us, we could tell each other anything. When I was around you, I didn’t need to hold back my words when for so long my words had been ignored and ridiculed.

But all of that changed one night in July. It was our anniversary and everything started out fine. It was an ordinary day, filled with lovely conversations and questions such as “How’s the family” and “How was your day?” Then as we laid down, listening to Hear You Me by Jimmy Eat World, you spoke sweetly to me those three words “I love you.” My heart dropped to my stomach. My throat turned dry and my head started spinning. For once, I had no words. I was speechless. My body and mind made me mute. I knew I loved and cared for you. I loved having you in my life. But the words “I love you” were words I could never swallow.

“I love you” opens up a door to a new perspective, a change. I didn’t want us to change. I loved the place we were in. You couldn’t understand my predicament. You couldn’t understand why I wouldn’t take the next step. You became frustrated, began questioning my feelings for you. My feelings were absolute. I did love you, more than I could ever describe in words. Didn’t I prove to you my feelings? Why must I say “I love you” just to convince you that I do? I felt I had professed my love to you without using words. That wasn’t enough for you. You needed me to say it, not just feel it. It was almost like a declaration or statement for you so to prove to the rest of the world that I was yours and you were mine. But I couldn’t give that to you. Words so small and so meaningless. But words meant everything to you. And I couldn’t give you what you wanted so you couldn’t stay. Now, the only word I have to say is “Goodbye.”

OLD FRIENDS

keithgarrettpoetry

As children they played, growing up in the same town,

Running in the park, playing games in the dark.

Going to school, swimming in the same back yard pool,

Singing song’s, listening to music they both loved.

Sleepovers, laughing late into the night,

Going to movies, Friday and Saturday nights.

They rode their bikes to many sights,

A coke and a comic book were a delight.

Throwing a football, baseball in the park,

Being kids was what life was about.

Hanging out together in a time of youth,

Those days are gone but never forgotten.

These things i say are true to all that once played,

Through generations and lifetimes,

Here’s to old friends never forgotten.

Keith Garrett

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