Sometimes our bodies will hurt for some time
And the beauty in that can be hard to find
Songwriter: Brian Fennell
In February of 2010, without any background in writing — other than a Year 10 Creative Writing elective which the teacher generally slept through — I hesitantly began to turn a blinking cursor on a blank page into keystrokes that created sentences.
I was writing to save my life; I was sick, I was sad, and I was trying to make meaning out of the madness I’d found myself in.
Margaret Atwood says a word after a word after a word is power. And as I continued to write, I began to figure out what it was that I thought and felt. I began to find my own power.
Over the last ten years, I’ve written personal stories publicly about my experiences with mental health, body image, eating disorders, obsessive compulsive disorder, meditation, mindfulness, yoga and relationships. I’ve also written privately. Even occasionally had work published, at times under a pseudonym due to the content.
But I’ve kept writing. And the beauty I have found through that process has healed me in unexpected ways.
A few weeks ago, I entered an essay titled Sexy Nails, about my struggle with OCD during the COVID-19 restrictions, into the Writers Victoria Grace Marion Wilson Emerging Writers competition for creative non-fiction. Last Friday, the winners were announced.
I wouldn’t even know how to go about judging personal stories and experiences and I’m glad it was not my job. But I’m also thrilled with the judge’s comments on my entry: ‘Sexy Nails’ weaves past and present together seamlessly, telling both the writer’s story and her grandfather’s, and shines a light on a specific chapter of history that is not often explored. By grounding the work in the physicality of her fingernails, Agafonoff takes a risky writing bet that pays off, resulting in a piece that is haunting and visceral.
The piece will be published in the October/November edition of The Victorian Writer.
I will keep writing — about my life, my body, my mental health and anything else I am trying to figure out. And I will find the beauty in all of it.