I remember how cluttered I was before the inspiration hit me to submit my first story at Reedsy Prompts. "Time Apart," I dubbed it.
Valentine's Day was approaching, and I remember how impassive my bearing was regarding the topic when questioned about it by the outside world.
What the world did not know, however, was that I hated Valentine's day.
What was there to love about it? I thought irritably as I sat on the grey couch of the sparsely furnished living room, in an apartment leased by my brother, within the beautiful city of Pretoria. What was there to love about anything?
And yet, as I surveyed that week's theme and read through the prompts, over and over again, I felt increasingly convinced to give it a go. It seemed easy enough, more achievable than the incomplete project I was unrealistically trying to work on: a long story fantasy writing contest on a site I can't even recall.
At that time, I was confused. I had no clue what I was doing, or where my life was going, or where I wanted it to go. I'd just recovered from a deeply impactful psychological breakdown, from an utterly disorienting spiritual disconnect.
All the same, there was something within me that was calling for prompt action: A cheeky voice whose origins I knew not how to trace. It told me that if I was satisfied with my unfruitful ways, which held me in deep stagnation, then I should go ahead and pass up the opportunity to make my dreams come true.
Make my dreams come true? I mused in self-mockery. As if.
Yet, I found myself clicking on that "submit" button. I found myself conjuring an image of a scene, and, to the best of my ability, putting words to that scene. I found that as I continued to type, a string of ideas, one after another, began to form.
As I said, I was in a muddle. My mental energy was dispersed in all the wrong directions which tied me to my past. I was clinging on to my only living parent, a successful business owner with a strange tendency of hoarding fancy watches, shoes, cars, and houses. I lived in one of those houses when I decided to run away at age 21, after having lived in, and kicked out, of each of those houses but one.
For the entirety that was my life up 'till that point, I knew nothing except going to school, going to the library, and getting boxed up inside a house I hated, forced to study subjects I had absolutely no interest in studying.
For twenty-one years, I knew nothing but the life that I was boxed into. It's not surprising to say, then, that when I ran away from home, I was a gullible little girl who bore no clue of the true nature of the outside world.
Fast forward ten years, and I am all the wiser. Many a terrible things have happened to me during that timeframe.
Within that stretch of time, I got diagnosed with a dire mental illness. I got raped and robbed and drugged. I fell into addictive cycles. I fell under the influence of bad men who objectified and used me.
Today, having gotten out of that tragically painful space of hellish existence, having awoken spiritually, I am at a point where I've successfully expunged all the toxic people who hovered pointlessly within the borders of my life, including the two major narcissists who have plagued it until just recently.
The fact that I have twins with one of them did not alter my bold resolve to grant both myself and my children the justice of breaking free from the generational clutches of abuse, trauma and dysfunction.
My discovery of Reedsy Prompts on my now dormant Facebook page has led to one of the most prominent milestones of my life: It has opened a doorway for me to pour out the emotions that have been suppressed for almost three decades of my life in productive and creative ways.
So far in this story, I have shared only a little of what I have experienced since I first ran away from home. However, the growing collective bundle of my pieces serve as puzzles to the grand events that make up the life that has left nothing but ache and abhorrence in my heart. Or at least, up until that very point, six months ago to be precise, when the day of so-called love was about to advance upon what I perceived to be a love-struck realm of delusional fools.
Ironically, this attitude served as my inspiration, and I decided to write about two people who were truly connected in love.
My submission of "Time Apart" and the subsequent approval of it elicited a feeling the likes of which I only ever dreamed of. It was a feeling of success, of emancipation. It was my first completed piece of work that was laid bare for all to see. It was a part of me - so used to living in the shadows, away from sight and scrutiny - flashing in black inscription against the chalky milieu of an unrestricted website, easily accessible all.
While I viewed "Time Apart" as a personal success, my second story did not receive the same ranking. For many months after its submission, I perceived "A rhythmic tap at the door" as a piece of failure.
My second story was birthed by deep emotional disfigurement. The energy that houses it is one of entrenched shame. That same energy enshrouds my latest story, "The Wearer of Mayhem 2: Into the Void." With both stories, I was deeply unsatisfied, and as though in support of my cynical expectations, both stories failed to make it to the contest.
I get it. I'm an amateur. It is, however, my latest epiphany that it is into these two ineligible stories that I expressed my most hidden self. It is within them that, even if not in the most graceful or skilled manner, that I faced my most terrifying fears and laid them bare for others to see. Isn’t that in itself a win, regardless of external outcomes? Back then, I didn’t see it that way.
My second "failed" work of art, “The Wearer of Mayhem 2: Into the Void” is a product of rusty knowledge from books whose contents I used to devour during my teenage years and early twenties. It lacks practicality in many instances. It has, however, served as a channel through which I could release ample fear and shame as well as rediscover my academic interests.
The perceived rejection of “The Wearer of Mayhem 2: Into the Void” has triggered me to go back to my second story and read it again, for the very first time in months. I winced as I did so because I was face to face with a demon of old. When I read it, just a few days ago, it took me exactly where I was when I wrote it six months ago. I saw the same visual of surroundings, the same characters, and felt the exact same emotions I’d poured into it all that while ago.
The most that I got out of reading “A rhythmic tap at the door,” however, was not the ageless and static nature of it: It was the accepting of my rapport with an emotion of profound shame that was the consequence of my involvements with men.
The first man in my life raised me to believe that there was something wrong with having sexual feelings. I recall my teenage self, ripe with frenzied hormones, and how I used to journalize about my crushes at my then high school. I also remember how a head-splitting back-hand slap made me regret ever putting my diary at a place where it would be discovered by snooping hands.
I remember how I was not allowed to have a boyfriend, or even friends (to a degree). The few friends that I had I could only see between classes at school, and even then I was disparaged for it. I remember how I began isolating myself even from my siblings as my way of coping. How I disconnected from academics. How I abandoned sleep and eventually, food.
I remember how reading, falling into stories, into other artists’ fragments of imagination, became my only means of survival in that small, awful domain disjointed from the rest of the world.
There’s just something about one who embraces their artistic flare. By doing that, they just… do the world a favor. Automatically. Without even trying. And that’s what all of those authors have done for me since I was in my preteen years.
The thing about me is that I’ve always wanted to be an author, but until now, it was merely a distant dream, an elusive thing that I had absolutely no hope of achieving in this lifetime. There I was, stuck in an unacquainted role of motherhood and struggling to make ends meets just so my kids, who have hijacked my entire life, can live a comfortable life. In their infancy, about a year ago, they had a mother who not only was loveless, but was severely scarred and not equipped to be a mother who would raise them well, let alone exert the energy that she didn’t have to pursue a pipe dream that had no chance of flourishing.
That was my belief, and “A rhythmic tap at the door” sealed that belief. For months after that story, I half-heartedly wrote one more personal story, a metaphorical description of my spiritual awakening. After that, I simply could not write another completed story, and so I stopped, utterly discouraged. I gave up too fast, too easily, and fell right back into an existence of complacency and stagnation, with no flare, no life, no inspiration to drive my hungry soul.
Today, my perception has completely changed, and therefore, my reaction to perceived failure.
I got inspired to write again a few months ago when I began noticing synchronicities between the Reedsy weekly prompts and the events which were unfolding in my life.
A classic example of this is how, in June, I noticed a prompt which urged me to write about a character who could not return home. I had been stuck at my friend’s house for six weeks in a different city away from my home. For six full weeks, I could not return home. I had tried. Trust me, I had. But, at that time, it had seemed as though every effort from both myself and my friend was being combated by something we could not possibly defy. It was beyond weird. Eventually, though, the reasons for that prolonged incident made themselves clear shortly after my return home – a digression I would rather not go into.
Another example is about how, after having lost my job to the Pandemic, I lost the financial ability to take care of myself and my kids and had to rely on others to do that for me. I remember how financially dry and depressed I was when a prompt arose, luring me to “write about a character who has to rely on the hospitality of strangers.”
My last chosen example is about how, in my awakening, I began to notice and appreciate nature. How I began to feel inspired to leave the claustrophobia of this enclosed apartment and take a walk with my kids to admire the nature that was all around us. I remember how I walked down a winding path those few months ago and appreciated the coral glow of the setting sun in the far horizon, elegantly flanked by looming trees. I remember how later that evening when I checked the Reedsy prompts for that week (purely out of curiosity this time), how one prompt read “Begin your story with somebody watching the sunrise, or sunset.”
It was incredible. Miraculous, really. I told my friend Trinity about all of the happenstances, just so I had a witness. This is the same friend who was the driving motivator of my sixth story, “The Cold Case of Caera Petals.” I had been down and out, crumbling under the pressure of life’s burdens, when she convinced me to give it a go and keep on pushing. “It’s when you lack inspiration that you have to seek it the most,” she had said.
There was (and still is) obviously something at work in my life, something that was helping me, nudging me in plain and obvious ways, to do the thing that I’ve always felt called to do, but have never had the guts to do.
Today, through Reedsy Prompts, I have not only learned to employ self-discipline, but I have discovered that I quite enjoy telling stories. I enjoy the place that I go to when I conjure up a story. I love how my problems dissolve from my awareness when I merge with my emotions and imagination and create something that only I can ultimately create.
Reedsy Prompts has played a monumental role in helping me find my life’s purpose. The labyrinth of stories I have found here have all in their unique ways served to inspire and fuel the creative energies that I feel flowing through me now. It has served as the foundation upon which I can explore my creative potential, and, indeed, to climb the first few rungs of the long ladder that ultimately leads to the life of my dreams as a successful author.
My experiences at Reedsy Prompts have, indeed, been incredible.
I have stopped writing the continuation of “The Wearer of Mayhem” saga because I got discouraged. I felt so unsatisfied with the second sequel so much that the energy of doubt has convinced me to stop typing the rather wild tale of the third continuation. I stopped at exactly 1737 words. I will eventually go back to it, when I feel ready to face those demons again.
Many a times I have read a “Rhythmic tap at the door.” I have read it repeatedly prior to its submission, but never once had I seen in that piece what I see today. Today, when I look at that story, I see courage. I see boldness. I see liberty.
I see the beginning of a very successful career.
And so it is with love that I extend my gratitude to Laura Reedsy and to everyone who has played a part in making this competition happen. I would also like to thank a fellow writer, Stevie B, for being the first to follow all of my stories and in doing so, giving me a much-needed boost of confidence to keep on writing. He also serves as an inspiration for this rather personal autobiographical story.
Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.
P.S: I feel pushed to mention that none of these extreme life-changes would have been possible had it not been for subliminal affirmations. It really is true that if you want to change your life, you must first change your perception. One of the most powerful and effective ways to do this is by employing this POTENT tool.
I have been using it for almost a year now and the paradigm shifts that I am experiencing today are mind-blowing.
I personally feel like everyone should use this tool in their daily lives (along with prayer, of course), but in a world rife with doubt, fear and resistance, many people are closed off to it.
To those who are not, check this link out:
Lastly, to anyone who ends up reading this, I love you.
I don’t need to know who you are, or what you think, or where you’ve been or where you’re going.
I love you. I do.
I want you to feel the energy of my new found love. It is seething in my heart as I write this and pouring right into your vicinity.
Can you feel it?
It is the same love which has healed the woman who wrote “A rhythmic tap at the door.” A handicapped and abandoned tale which has, finally, received the recognition (from its owner) that it deserves.