Tuesday, 1 November 2011

Dear Diary...

07:04:00 Posted by Lara Clayton , , , , 4 comments

I started writing my first diary when I was twelve. I used a blank school exercise book.

I’ve always been quiet, shy and reluctant to express my emotions. I was the smile. I was the automated “I’m fine” response. I was a perfect fraud who duped people with a swindle of fake happiness. I was the outside image they wanted to see – and eventually, I discovered the consequences of pretence.

In writing, I could be real, true. I could express what I felt. I could say what I couldn’t say to anyone else. I could pluck one of many thoughts out of my head, place it on paper, and my mind would feel a little lighter. I could pen a poem in strict form about sadness, and the rhythm and rhyme would distract me – soothe me like a lullaby. I wrote during some of the most difficult years of my life. I wrote when I was incapable of doing anything else. I wrote final letters. I wrote towards health, freedom, life. And writing continues to be my release.

I will always believe in the therapeutic potential of writing. It’s not mumbo-jumbo new age thinking. I have over fifty diaries, which say that writing MUST be cathartic. Pages which show me grow, fall, struggle and heal. Writing gave me a voice when my vocal cords had stopped working. It never walked away.

I’m going to conclude this post with a poem from a diary written in 1999. Please excuse the bad rhyme and meter, I was 14 and still learning the rules of poetry.

Plan Flavoured Water

Life is just a stretch of water,
a vast and unpredictable space,

no idea what’s in front of you,
what dangers you may have to face.

A visible reflection of the here and now,
an image of the outside me.
It shimmers as if a mirage,
perhaps it isn’t what you are meant to see.

Within the water’s shallow depths -
where all is still and calm,
I’m able to just float
as if cradled inside someone’s palm.

But the hand that holds me opens up,
it leaves me to drift away,
to face the water by myself
because no-one ever wants to stay.

The water’s depth becomes deeper -
stormy waves begin to break.
Each splash a vain effort,
every breath a struggle to take.

Slowly sinking down into darkness,
away from the light.
I’m drowning in torment,
but I’m still determined to fight.

Thank you for reading,



sue sheard said...

Thanks for sharing this one Lara. You may have only been 14 but you expressed yourself so well. Your voice sounds so young and fragile yet suggests that despite the fragility there is a fascination about the essence and meaning of life that will keep you going. My fourteen year old self would have related to this easily without caring about the rhyme or meter.

Ashley R Lister said...

How come Lara can write this well at 14?

At 14 years old I was writing: "Dear Jim, can you fix it for me to meet a Cahrlie's Angels in the nude?"

Eloquent as always.


Lara Clayton said...

Strangely your 'Dear Jim' letter doesn't surprise me! You MUST write this into a poem...
Lar x

Christo Heyworth said...

With me at 14, Ashley & Co., I'd have asked to meet Julie Christie when she first appeared on our TV screens in black & white in a Sci-Fi serial called A for Andromeda, and not be as tongue-tied as I was when I bumped into her in Soho six years later.
Love your Dear Diary format Lara, and how candid you are about the writing of your 14-year-old self: impressive, I'd say.