I have been totally slacking on writing articles for my blog, haven’t I? My last post, Will I Ever Be Okay, was on April 3rd?!
Well, it’s only because I had decided, this year, that my writing focus would be on that book I have been meaning to write for the past few years, but just never got round to.
When the idea was first mooted.
When I first met the amazing Adrian Pang, actor and artistic director of theatre company Pangdemonium, that had put up the play Falling in 2016, he had suggested that I work on telling my story, via writing a play.
We got in touch after I had written a review of Falling on my food blog, The Diva Eats Prata. Not A Pretty Picture had not existed yet in 2016 so the only avenue I had to express my thoughts on mental health was my food blog, incongruous as it seemed.
Falling is a day-in-the-life-of type of story, about a family dealing with an autistic son / brother, and watching it was like watching my life unfold before me.
I was so impacted and connected so strongly with the characters, particularly the well sister, that I immediately wrote something the very next day, published it and then shared it on social media.
Adrian saw my post, we met, and he mooted the idea of me writing a play about my brother, his schizophrenia and how it impacted my family and me.
That was in 2016. But every time I attempted to put pen to paper, something else would crop up and distract me. Such as a new project or a job opportunity.
I was that close in 2020.
A very real attempt came about in 2020, just before Covid19 when Pangdemonium held a call for submissions for its annual Write Here, Write Now playwright mentorship programme. Those interested had to submit their proposal with a couple of scenes fleshed out.
I was so thrilled when I received a call saying that I had been accepted into the programme. Unfortunately, Covid19 struck and they had to cancel the programme, indefinitely.
Although Adrian encouraged me to keep working on my script, I temporarily shelved the idea of writing a play and instead, decided to focus on my newly-launched mental health blog, which is what you are currently reading.
I had started writing articles for this blog towards the end of 2019, and had nervously launched it on 1st January 2020, so I wanted to continue building this up instead of being distracted with other editorial endeavours.
It was only this year, in 2023, as I head towards my 50th birthday next year, that I decided, I would finally focus on writing that book.
I could revert to writing the play, but I had this grand plan that before March next year, I wanted to have something done and out there. That would be quite a nice goal to achieve before the Big 5-0, no?
But, a play would mean depending on a theatre company to produce it. Well, first it would mean completing the script and while I am a writer, I have never written a play before and it is a different world altogether from writing a piece of fiction or non-fiction.
The only thing that seemed achievable, something within my control, was to write a book.
The Glass Child, The Well Child Syndrome, The Invisible Child.
Hence, began the journey of writing the story of the Siblings of Special Needs Children. The definition of the term Special Needs is expanded to include what most people already think about, autism, but also basically, any child who has higher support needs.
They can include mental illness, mental disorders, intellectual disabilities, physical disabilities, addiction etc. My book focuses on the Siblings, the Well Child—the ones who run the risk of being unseen and emotionally neglected. So, the illness or disability or issue their sibling has is inconsequential.
When I started the book, I was focusing specifically about being the sibling of a mentally ill person, sharing all my deeply-personal experiences.
However, as I wrote further and did more research, I have realised that being the sibling of a child who has higher support needs, who take up a disproportionate amount of their parents’ time, these well siblings face many of the same mental and emotional health issues, regardless of what their siblings’ ailments are.
Let’s get real about the deadline, shall we?
I am 80% done but just when I thought that, I have new ideas and perspectives to the book that I want to explore. So, my original goal of getting it “out there” before I hit 50—well, I have tempered it down to, let me at least complete my first draft by March next year.
I’ll get it printed and gift it to myself as my 50th present.
Getting it polished, published and promoted can follow thereafter.
So there you have it—the reason for my radio silence. Believe me, I have had my fair share of things thrown my way this year that would have made for some good blog posts, but I’ve had to just put them aside to focus on my book.
Well, I will continue to update this blog when I have the energy, but till the next time, wishing all the strength to continue to enjoy every little pleasure and prioritise your own mental well-being as we speed towards the end of the year!