Expressing the Inexpressible

‘By finding some way of crafting an experience, constructing a structure to create a door to let other people in so they can walk into your experience and call it theirs and, in the business of doing this, it gives you somewhere to go with it. It’s almost like telling a story back to yourself. Often the more traumatised we are, the more we’ll tell the story or else we’ll be completely silent. Writing is one of the ways of expressing the inexpressible.’
Jackie Kay on Desert Island Discs, 23rd October 2016. She was asked how she got through her difficult encounter with her birth father (as described in Red Dust Road).

The weather has certainly turned in our little seaside town. Summer is dissolving into memories:

Swimming in a waterfall, Northern Italy, July 2018


Swiss mountain, July 2018

For the last four years I have come into a phase of my life which the doctors call peri-menopausal. Eighteen years ago I went through a devastating bout of depression. I have found a way of talking and writing about this, I have found a narrative for it which is acceptable to me and (pretty much) acceptable to those around me. I am struggling to find a way to write about what is going on for me now. To express the inexpressible. This is because it involves a lot of blood, an awful lot of blood, coming from my womb and this is considered not a nice thing to talk about. However, for the last four years I have had on-going problems of heavy bleeding which has caused anaemia, I have had headaches which feel like a chisel is being hammered into my right temple and which are immune to painkillers, I have lost control of my body ‘thermostat’ so I overheat leaving me feeling faint and slightly nauseous. I cannot go anywhere now without considering my stock of sanitary products and what access I will have to toilet facilities.

Upset by reading this? Try living it….

On August 1st I had my womb scraped out with a laser during an endometrial ablation. For several weeks after I felt exhausted and very, very low. The bleeding has not stopped. So the narrative I am trying to construct has no neat ending.

I am untidy. I am no longer neat.
A faucet jammed on. I leak.

Angry? You bet. Upset? Sure. And massively de-motivated, especially around my writing. This has not been helped by another brush with the traditional publishing industry which initially was wonderfully encouraging and positive. It looked like, just maybe, my thirty-year ambition of having a novel traditionally published could come to fruition. Of course, not, how could I have been so deluded? Don’t tell me it could still happen, because it won’t. And holding onto a hopeless hope is one of the worst things I can do for my creativity.

As with many other aspects of life, we only hear from the ‘winners’. There are many, many writers and creative souls who do not ‘make it’ in conventional terms (get the publishing deals, get the readers, get the reviews, get the acclaim). If you are going to be a writer you have to decide you will do it for the love, for the pleasure, because it keeps you sane, because it distracts you… For any reason which is about you and not about interfacing with an audience of any kind. I know this. I have known this for thirty years. Sometimes I get enticed into a fantasy where this is not true and it takes an awful lot of energy and effort to drag me out to reality again.

So how to pull myself out of this difficult place. Firstly, I am attempting to be compassionate to myself and kind to my body. Secondly, I am trying out new things, learning new skills, especially in arenas where I do not feel judged. Thirdly, I am slowly, slowly coming back to my writing. Over the last few weeks I have drafted up some of the short stories I discovered lingering in my writing journal (see previous post) and have put a draft structure into a non-fiction project I have around writing, walking and memoir. In the next few weeks I will take up my novel again, re-reading it and intending to find a way to move forward with it.

But I don’t want to leave this blog on a low point – for me or for the reader. So let’s forget for a moment the blood, the pain and the disappointment. Let’s recall an enchanting memory: swimming in the Swiss lake with the mountains all around and the sun sliding up from behind the peaks.

4 thoughts on “Expressing the Inexpressible

  1. jpx63

    My heart is with you Kate. Your writing is outstanding and you should be published by a major publisher. But as we know it is a complete lottery. I empathise totally with the dream and how it can get so big and vital that it blows everything else out. I have stopped trying to get a poetry collection published and since I started focusing on my own creative goals have felt a lot better about it all – and surprising opportunities have come up. It’s also making a difference to my chronic anxiety, I think because I’ve taken some power back and feel more in control. So sorry to read about your struggles with bleeding. This must be so incredibly wearing – hard on you in every way. Thank you for sharing so honestly. You are an inspiration to me x

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Kate Evans Post author

      Thank you very much for your lovely words, they really mean a lot to me. It is important for all of us creative souls to concentrate on the work which matters to us, and maybe, at some point, it will connect with someone else. Good luck with all that you are doing. X

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Annecdotist

    I’m late coming to this but wanted to say how much I appreciate your post. It’s so true that we tend to hear only from the winners – that’s how the capitalist mentality infiltrates our identities – so important and brave to speak out. Perhaps I’m pushing the connections too far, but I perceive a link between the healthcare system and traditional publishing. Both offer fantastic rewards to some but they don’t work out for others: not all illnesses get cured; not all good books get published.
    But about your headaches (I’m not a medic but I do suffer from migraines) – if it’s confined to one side migraine medication might help. Longer term anaesthetic or Botox injections from the pain clinic help some people (I had the opportunity to try them, unfortunately they were ineffective, but I still think it’s a good thing). Sorry if you know this or it seems a bit preachy, but I meet a lot of women whose debilitating headaches don’t seem to have been taken seriously, or seriously enough.
    I’m lucky that I had a fairly benign menopause, but can empathise with what you’re going through. Any illness can reduce our confidence and leave us feeling out of control, but leaking bodily fluids can be particularly disturbing. But probably more common than we like to think. I imagine many women in a similar situation would appreciate you giving voice to this experience.
    My personal inexpressible has been heard in therapy, and I believe that’s where it will stay. It suits me more to write about it tangentially or metaphorically. We all need to find our own way.



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