Writing for me has been both an escape from the world and a means of entry into the world. When I could not speak, a shy and stuttery child with secrets already that no one should have, I could write. By the age of five or six I was stammering out a poem in school assembly, humiliated and shamed by my inability to be fluent, proud as punch of Bingo the Dog, my three- stanza offering of rhyming verse.
In another lifetime, perhaps I would have become a full-time writer. Yet for a long time, focused on the need to earn money, to provide for my family, and a tendency to a number of deviations from the path, I believed that only other people got published. Without the deviations, paradoxically, that belief might have remained my truth.
I changed my beliefs when I completed my first Master’s degree in my thirties. I submitted a research based paper to a professional journal and was accepted. From there I dared to believe that I might write more, and submitted a book proposal which became accepted. I wrote that first book in whatever spaces I could grab while working and raising two children. I fashioned my writing space from a cupboard under the stairs, and wrote between washing, playing and working.
Apparently, where there’s a will, there’s a way.
I believe that writing is an art and a science: to be a writer is a discipline. It’s probably true that most of us have at least one book inside us, and while a story might create itself, a book won’t write itself.
Now, I have a series of publications out in the ether, and have taught Creative Writing for the University of East Anglia. I am increasingly interested in story telling through different means, and offer bespoke coaching and workshops for aspiring writers.
Welcome to my writing page.
It had been a tough journey, dark and wet, and it was only
my mother’s encouragement and the lure of the outside that
kept me going. Besides, I knew I couldn’t have stayed where
I was for much longer - they’d have forced me to leave
What was happening?
Bright light glared in my face, and loud unfamiliar noises
My body trembled, cold air filled my lungs.
Someone slapped me hard, and I cried out in pain.
A woman laughed.
‘It’s a girl.’
And that was only the beginning...
Janice Russell. December 1999
which fall to my cheeks,
Sun is rising even as the moon is clear and small
Its narrow curve the sign of nature’s rhythm
Harmony of the eternal heavens
Haunted by a face I miss
The child and woman who was mine but never mine
Because she’s hers.
Flashes of another, ally from the sisterhood, heart and mind distorted, Way beyond my reach.
Thoughts of the woman who would understand
But who I cannot tell
Lest knowing brings her down.
And, finally, the woman who I never knew,
Black eyes twinkling, courage in her smile,
her presence near, evasive,
like the stars,
her light travelling through the universe long beyond
her bodily demise.
What would you say to me now, unknown crone of my
Some things just had to be. It was never in your hands, all souls, including yours,
I send kisses of love to the skies
and hope the little flutters in the air will travel via the moon
and somehow reach the cheek of that most precious
one I miss so dear,
touch my erstwhile comrade in her sleep,
and soothe my mother in her bed of fear.
Relief comes with the day.