Why Judith Shakespeare Killed Herself

I used to live and breathe words. They would spill from my pen, whether I wanted them to or not. The world around me would be under my watchful eyes, and there was no escaping entry into my notebooks. I worked hard to hone and develop my craft, until there was no telling which parts of my journals were invention, which parts the reality. Both read like fiction, unfortunately more like Kafka than an idyll.

Today I find it harder to be a writer. Life’s busier, and my journals read more like wartime telegrams. I noticed right after my daughter was born, that my beautiful flowing prose changed into something that sounded more like Hemingway. It upset me. But endless demands, distractions and lack of sleep wreak havoc on a writer’s mind. Like a grenade. I love my children, but I grief the loss of my ability to concentrate. I grief the loss of the time to sit and observe. Of the quiet you need to hear metaphors sneak up, and to notice characters hiding under your bed from unspeakable dangers. 

Like Virgina Wolf said, one needs a room of one's own -  I spent too many years without one, vulnerable to interruption at any given moment. My creative mind knew itself at war, at any moment the enemy might attack and ask for a snack or demand to know where the car keys or the nappies are. 
I don’t know if writers’ brains are wired differently, but I find if life doesn't supply me with the space and time to put things on the page, something snaps in me and you'd better get out of my way.

At times this seems like a disability. Does being a writer make me a bad parent? Does being a parent make me a bad writer? Here the serpent bites its own tail. 

I feel for all the creative women in past centuries (like Shakespeare's fictional sister Judith)  who had no choice but to sacrifice the very thing that was most crucial to their happiness.

I couldn’t have done what they did. I have to get up at night and open the cupboard doors of my brain to see who’s hiding in there. I have to blow the cobwebs off the tangled up words, piled up messily in a tattered old box in my mind’s loft, and play with them. And if need be, I will hide with them in that very same box.

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