As a teenage budding writer, I had on my wall a Henry David Thoreau quote: “How vain it is to sit down to write when you have not stood up to live.” This constant reminder of that fact that I not only had the life experience of a marine mollusk, plus was also vain, made practising my writing a little tough at the time. Life has a way, though, of bundling up a whole s**tstorm of experiences, good and bad, along the way. And that Thoreau quote gradually started to make more and more sense. I don’t yet consider myself much of a writer, but I do have more and more appreciation for those who are. For me, a good writer is someone who uses their experiences as a filter to shape and bring authenticity to their point. The most profound pieces of communication draw on real and raw human experience to talk to a universal truth within an audience.
Our staff writer, Jamie Trower, is a master of this. I think partly because life has dished him up more challenges than many could imagine and I think also because of a deep empathy that he has for others. His poems (he has released two books so far) speak to the challenges that he has faced, but within those experiences, he offers up lessons of light and hope that have universal relevance. Another key in the power of Jamie’s work is his honesty.
In this issue, he talks openly about his struggles with depression, alcohol and his thoughts of suicide. It’s a tough, heart-breaking thing to consider that a colleague and a friend had been going through this while at the same time, carrying on the appearance in the office that everything was fine. Of course, considering the statistics, this is all too common. In your workplace, in your circle of friends, in yourself, maybe there might be similar struggles. Being stoic and sucking it up is obviously not working. We need to change something. And maybe sharing these things is a way to change the environment towards one of less stoicism and less just-sucking-it-up.
If even one person reads Jamie’s work and decides to get help themselves or to ask someone else if they need help, then surely there is no greater testament to the power of good writing and the real braveness that comes from talking about your struggles.