For you Simone, I write

It’s been a long time since I published anything here. The last piece that I wrote which wasn’t a book review or a repost of an article from elsewhere was this one, from this day a whole two years ago.

Why did I stop blogging?

It’s taken me a long time to come to terms with this, to accept that I had ceased, ground to a halt. Subliminally, at the lymphatic level, I told myself in some visceral language that I was busy, writing elsewhere, working, focusing on other things. I denied myself the itch my humanity needs to scratch.

And it’s not that I don’t have anything to say. Oh no. I am not short of ideas or opinions, reflections or musings. Yet I have published nothing in writing over the past year.

A lovely UAL colleague said to me last week, and Nadia how is your practice? I was stunned. I searched inside myself, my chin to my chest. I shrugged. I didn’t know what to say. What is my practice again? This is my practice. My art, and I’ve neglected it. And it is this, my art, that blows life in to me.

I finished my first novel over a year ago and in the quest to get it published, I have deserted the craft that feeds me.

I thought about this on Monday. And it dawned on me in that eye widening way, as I sat in the library: I’ve been here before. There was another era, a time, where I would write secretly, squirreling thoughts away from myself, on envelopes, receipts, denying I ever wrote. When I needed to write, but couldn’t face the fact that I did, as if the very writing would make some truth visible, the giant elephant on my shoulder would appear. There was a time where I stopped myself writing.

 It is often when we have so much to say, that we say nothing at all.

And I. Am so angry.

Never in my wildest dreams would I have imagined that what has happened to feminism in Britain over the last few years would have happened. That clever, clever patriarchy. I’ll write about THAT in 30 years, ha. I’m no fool.

But the anger has disciplined me, stifled me. I realise that now.

At the Million Women Rise rally last weekend a female voice boomed When a woman stands up for herself she stands up For All Women. For All Women.

It stayed with me. I realised that when I write, I write for all women. For women in light and dark times, for women who can think thoughts but cannot utter them. For those who write on the page but cannot publish, for all the woman who shall be liberated by their words.

I recently read bits of Simone de Beauvoir’s Second Sex for our ACFM podcast episode on Myths. I was moved again by her words. My radical allotment friends call me Simone of the Suburbs, I recalled. I smiled to myself, a warmth filled my cheeks. I took a minute. We really do stand on the shoulders of giants.

So I’ll write for you Simone. And for Huda Shaarawi, Ada Lovelace, Marie Curie, and the giants of our past. For my contemporaries, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie and Ece Temelkuran. For our living greats Angela Davis and Gloria Steinem, both who I’ve had the pleasure of meeting. For women and girls everywhere, this is my pledge to you, that I will write again and often.

And this time I will not stop.