Death, Alopecia and Bullying – The Reason I Began Writing

Life (My First Poem). The sun in my face, The wind through my hair, The chill in my ear, Forever it's there.

Life (My First Poem).
The sun in my face,
The wind through my hair,
The chill in my ear,
Forever it’s there.

In 1995, shortly after my five-year-old cousin died from leukemia, I wrote my first ever poem (outside of the school curriculum anyway). I was about 10 and a ¼.

Although I didn’t understand much about death, especially why it happened to someone so young, it obviously affected me and I developed a mild form of alopecia.

Eventually the pain of losing Amy turned into acceptance and the alopecia went away, leaving me with a small bald patch on the back of my head (thankfully covered by the hair that did grow back). But the poems kept coming.

It was a brilliant outlet for the pain I felt and from that day, I never stopped writing.

I wrote many poems throughout high school but it wasn’t until we given an assignment – what do you want to be when you grow up – by an English substitute, that I began writing short stories. I turned future-me into a character who was living a romantic existence in Paris. The odd look into my life as a twenty-year-old paid off; I got an “A” for that assignment.

You won’t be surprised to read that I was bullied at school for writing, especially for writing poems. It didn’t stop me though and I would proudly read them at our end of term awards afternoon or morning assemblies. Even now I occasionally bump into those same bullies who ask “do you still write your poems then?” It’s great to be able to say that I am now a senior reporter writing for one of the biggest regional daily newspapers in the country. And yes, I still write those poems.

(It is important to note now that my poems are actually awful so I try to stick to short stories and novel-writing instead.)

So that’s why I began writing in the first place but why do I write now?

As well as being really therapeutic, it’s actually the only thing I’ve ever truly been good at. I’m not talking about spelling or grammar, which, if truth be told, has never been my strong point; I am talking about the part where I get to turn an idea and imagery into words, sentences and stories, to share with people.

I love to see an idea come to life and, once it is finished, read it back with pride – all going well of course; some things still end up in the digital ‘recycle bin’ on my desktop. I love taking on the challenge of trying to describe something in a new way, turning a cliche into something modern yet familiar for the reader.

What started out as a result of something negative has, quite literally, helped to shape my life. It’s given me direction and a reason to be hopeful.

I love words, books, structuring a sentence, metaphors and similes. I take joy in holding a quill, typing away at my laptop while my children nap, buying books about books. The sound of printing off my work, noises from nature outside my office window, the click from the remote when I turn the television off so I can write.  All. Of. It.

There have been so many people in my life who do not understand how important writing is to me. They see it as a way to earn money (as a newspaper journalist) a silly hobby (the high school bullies and the ignorant) or even as a stupid dream (to quote Taylor Swift, the haters gunna hate, hate, hate, hate, hate) but all that matters is I know differently.

So what is the dream? To be a published author. I would love to see the manuscript I have been working on for the past eight or nine years come to life by someone taking a chance on me.

I will keep striving towards that dream (see my previous post Follow the Literary Brick Road). I hope this blog post inspires you to keep working towards your dreams too.

Thank you Blogging 101: Zero to Hero (Day 3) for the push I needed to write and post this.

About Donna-Louise Bishop

I'm a writer, freelance reporter, creative writing tutor, and blogger, living in the beautiful county of Norfolk UK. In my spare time I am also a wife, a mother to three boys, and a human washing machine.
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9 Responses to Death, Alopecia and Bullying – The Reason I Began Writing

  1. Keep writing! 30 is nothing, you’ve got decades of creative work ahead, including raising those two little people (raising children is probably the single most challenging, creative, rewarding thing I’ve done). Here’s something I wish I had done during those years: write something every day, even if it was just observations of the day’s events. That’s great raw material for future creative work as well as a nice way to preserve memories. Good luck!

    • Donna-Louise Bishop says:

      I am trying to stay positive for the decade ahead and I think you’ve given me some great advice – to write something everyday; even a small amount. You are also right about the kids. My boys are what keep me inspired. Thanks for your kind words of wisdom.

  2. Tara says:

    So sorry to read about your cousin. I’m glad you found poetry as a way to help with your grief. I was actually surprised to read you were bullied for it but then thinking back I don’t know anyone at my school who wrote poetry (or at least was open about it).

    • Donna-Louise Bishop says:

      Looking back on it, it seems weird as I viewed it all as a child. I wrote a short story about it when I was in uni actually – I may come back to it and revise it for something one day. It seems like yesterday it happened…
      As for the bullies, yes it wasn’t “cool” to show any sign of talent or joy for learning at my school. The term “bof” was thrown about a lot. Not that I cared much – I took it as a compliment!

  3. Dmytry says:

    Keep it up. Curious about those short stories.

    • Donna-Louise Bishop says:

      Thank you. I am trying to get more of short stories out there via competitions and the like. Watch this space!

  4. Pingback: Exciting news! My blog has been nominated for the Liebster Award | Newshound to Novelist

  5. angelaackerman1 says:

    As someone who was bullied mercilessly in school, I saw a lot of me in this. I hope you keep going, and keep writing. Other people need to know they aren’t alone in how they feel and what they experience, and that is the beauty of what we do–we write stories with real characters who show them they are NOT alone. GROUP HUGS!

    • Donna-Louise Bishop says:

      Thank you so much for your comment! Sorry to hear about your own experiences but I’m glad we can be united.

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