Two years ago, I returned home from work to my ancient, dust-ridden Japanese apartment. I shuffled out of my shoes and dropped my bags on the floor, & stepped out of the genkan into my kitchen. In front of me was the table. It was a good-sized rectangular dining table, pressed against the wall between the doors to my tatami rooms. It had a pale yellow cloth on it, which was always slipping. The left-hand side was occupied by my toaster oven, bought soon after I moved in in haste to experiment with baking Kit Kats. The right-hand side was covered by paper. At the bottom of the pile were important documents – payslips, city registration forms, the earthquake safety leaflet I never got around to filling out. The rest was all stories.
Half-finished journal entries, scribbled on post-it notes when I didn’t have my actual journal with me but needed to write. Torn pages with novel notes, story ideas, and snippets of song lyrics. Thin B5 notepads adorned with Sanrio characters, all full of garbled English and Japanese poetry, folktales, and musings about how the ocean looked whenever I sat beside it. Ink smudges, where I’d cried unexpectedly, when I hadn’t realised how upset I was until I’d picked up a pen and everything had come out. When I’d written about missing my family, and the wind running away from me, and things I’d lost. My stories, from both my life and my imagination, scattered.
I looked at them. For the first time in a while, I smiled for myself. It was like looking in a mirror, and reminding myself that I still existed. That after so much wondering who and where I was and should be, I finally got it.
“Words,” I said. “Words are my home.”
Here I am
Today I am writing this blog post whilst sitting on the floor of my room in Scotland. I am still surrounded by scattered paper. This time it’s on my yoga mat, which is annoying because I really want to stretch, but the squishy foam is so comfortable to spread my work out & flop onto.
I’ve moved around a lot over the past few years. Even before Japan, when I had papers all over the walls of my childhood bedroom, and in folders and on desks of various student houses in Winchester. I’ve loved and left many homes, and sometimes my heart feels heavy from it all. It took everything I had left to uproot myself and get here, to this grey city by the sea which sparkles in the sunlight and the rain. And I’m glad I did, because it is definitely the right place for me for now.
I’ve been thinking recently about where home is. Can I call this place home yet? When I am so happy here already, but have so little claim to it and it’s just another city on my list? And what is home, anyway? I always say it’s where you love, not where you live. But I’ve said ‘I’m home’ so many times in so many different houses and apartments, and it was true of all of them at the time. Now when I travel and people ask me where I’m from I say ‘Aberdeen’ because that’s where my journeys begin these days, but it’s not where I’m really from. And if they’d asked me a few years ago they would have received a different answer…
I look back at the papers on my yoga mat. Assignment drafts. Poems. Field notes. Journal scraps. I remember my Japanese kitchen table. I smile.
Over the years, I have changed. The Willow Web has changed with me, and doubtless we will change again. I’m not the same person I was in the past, and I’m thankful for all the opportunities I’ve had to grow and become who I am now. Writing has always been the one constant thing, which I’ve been able to take everywhere. It doesn’t matter where I am, so long as I have a notepad and pen in my hands.
The past year or so has been difficult. I’ve been shy, and scared. I don’t like to say much about my personal life online, so I’ve hidden my words away; kept them for myself, in these messy piles. I’ve felt ashamed to call myself a writer, because I have so little credentials to show for it. It’s time to change that. I’m working on getting my words off of those pages and into the world, so they can find their own homes.
I have kept a journal for over a decade, and have started sharing snippets from them on here and on Twitter with the hashtag #ameliajournals. I may eventually post some longer excerpts, if I find some which I’d like to share. These are just for fun, and to remind me of all the madness which led me to where I am now. Hopefully they make you smile, or ponder something you might not have done before.
Recently I have also been writing quite a bit of poetry, which is a surprise. Not sure how that happened, but it keeps happening and I like it so I will continue to post my poems on here, too.
Stories will appear as and when they are finished and/or edited. I have so many stories to share, from so many places. Brave, withering stories, as much a part of me as my own skin. Some which I wrote to heal myself, or change things I cannot in real life, some just for fun. Maybe readers will never tell the difference. There are also new stories, beginning here, now. About the North Sea, and rowan berries, and feeling lost and found.
I will be keeping some stories back to use as parts of bigger projects or to submit to other places. I’d also like to put together some collections of stories and poems in booklets, too. Probably PDF or some other digital format to begin with, but hopefully some physical ones as well eventually.
Thank you for staying with me. Over the years I’ve watched my followers grow, and it’s been a pleasure to meet so many lovely people and learn from and be inspired by them. I am so thankful for all the friends which writing, blogging, and folklore have brought into my life. You are what reminds me to not give up, and that what I’m doing is worth it.
If you like my writing, then there are a few things you can do to help…
- Follow me on Twitter @amyelize. This is the only public social media I use for writing and folklore-related things.
- If you like my posts, please share them. I don’t mind how. Retweet, or share on other social media, or print them off & send them with a carrier pigeon to your faraway grandma in the forest (she’s a witch too, you know. She needs words to help her spell!)
- Follow The Willow Web, either on WordPress or via email by filling in the box on the right-hand side.
- If you have any feedback or comments, feel free to tweet or email me. I have disabled comments for old posts because of spam, and also because I am editing and adding to them. So please don’t let that deter you from getting in touch. I love chatting, and have met some beautiful people through the magic of the internet. Long may it continue!
- I have also set up a Ko-fi page. No pressure, but if you like my writing, or find any of my articles useful, and you can donate something, I would be very grateful.
That’s all for now. On I go…
Love, light, & all brightest blessings ♥
Latest posts by Amelia Starling (see all)
- Nowhere // Now Here: An Update - 22nd April 2019
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