Starting at age four
My experience with writing is vast and wide
First: my name scrawled in Dick Bruna books, some letters backwards, some capitalised
Then: learning to write neatly, on lines, in thick blue pencil or Chinagraph on transparent sheets; lead pencil on tracing paper too
Later: coloured perfumed pens, textas, an Apple II word processor
Pencil on music manuscript: dots on lines, minims and rests and clefs and keys and a whole new language
And ballpoint pens, tested for their speed and flow in the shop, before purchase
They need to be able to write really fast during exams
Fantastical stories, cutely rhyming poems, diaries and love letters
Essays, and blog posts, critical reviews
Technical writing, so difficult, so very precise
Grant applications: begging for money, acquitting it at the end
Emails and texts and forums and Twitter and Facebook and Instagram
Magazine articles and book extracts, written for nary a sum
Notes passed in class, writing on foggy mirrors, misty windows, dusty windscreens
English, so much English
Italian and French and German too
Theses and manuscripts and folios and contents and indices and footnotes and bibliographies and lecture notes and
Programme notes and assignments and graphic scores and graffiti and birthday cards and eulogies and rants and complaints and requests and forms and contracts and lists
So many lists
Just like this one
I always feel happiest making things. It’s a natural state for me, it feels as essential and easy as breathing in air. After making things my favourite things are learning and expressing. Or maybe they come before making? In any case, each informs and leads to the other, in a playful, cyclical interchange and exchange. I love writing and have been happily at it since quite a young age, learning to read and write at age four, then, once at school, writing in journals, making up poems and fanciful stories, receiving the encouragement of teachers and school principals along the way. Music came a little later than writing for me, but only just. Luckily it came into my life intensively at a formative time, so it feels as natural as English to me. Twenty five years ago, after immersing myself in the study of music and playing of musical instruments, I also started to write it.
But back to words for now, and the writing of them. I’ve had a lot of experience writing, as most of us no doubt have, if only day-to-day. For me, several stints at uni meant I got to write a lot and had a lot of practice at it. Academic bits and pieces mainly: essays and the like, culminating in a masters thesis (and accompanying music folio). As well as writing my own words, I’ve critiqued and assessed the words of others as an academic marker. Later I morphed into an academic lecturer, albeit briefly, and I was thrust into the role of using words to inform and teach. Rather more pragmatically, I’ve worked as a grant writer for artists, tweaking and streamlining their words in the hope of making money, and as a technical writer for a music software program. That was really hard. For my own entertainment and because I like to delve into things quite deeply, I immersed myself in the writing of a perfume/olfaction blog for some years.
Now, with this blog, I turn to more personal topics, as I find myself at a crossroads in life, and with a great need to express myself and to write about my experiences, and for some odd reason, I feel that this needs to be done publicly. Part of the impetus for all this was the societal paradigm shift that is/was #metoo. But equally, I’ve been missing writing in recent months and years, as chronic illness has made life difficult, and I find my mind often wandering onto topics and opinions, and ideas for pieces, and poems, and find writing to be a satisfying outlet for such urges. It helps me to order my head, clarify and sort myself out if you will, and often in the process, I find my brain sparking its own insights, creating its own connections and revelations, which are ultimately both helpful and healthful. Some of the writing here is intensely personal, and I feel like we are at an incredibly important junction in our collective consciousness. I sense a real opening and expanding. A tiny flicker of light that was only very recently swamped by darkness is becoming ever bigger, ever brighter. There is great change being made through confession and sharing, a bringing to the surface of secrets to be hidden no more. And with that comes closeness, and connection and healing and ultimately growth for us all.
Welcome to Feminist Confessional.
Melita White is Feminist Confessional. All writing © Melita White.
Melita’s work has also been published in the feminist anthologies You Are Not Your Rape and We Will Not Be Silenced, and on blogs Whisper and The Roar, Brave & Reckless and Animal Heart Press. Visit the blog Perfume Polytechnic to read Melita’s writing on fragrance and olfaction. Perfume Polytechnic also has a YouTube channel.