Filling The Gap Left Behind

I’m going to assume that if you’re reading this you’re already pretty familiar with who I am and my history. If not, I’ll do a TL:DR style paragraph below to catch you up…

In 2007, when I was 24 my daughter Amelia was involved in a car accident. She was 3. She spent five days in Great Ormond Street Hospital but I had to make the decision to turn off her life support after I was informed she’d never recover.

I think it’s pretty obvious to say that her passing feels as if it left a gap inside me. When she died, it certainly felt as if my heart had broken, which feels like a horrible cliche, but there are very few words to depict the actual feeling. There’s a constant absence around me. It’s not physical, although that’s certainly part of it. Amelia not being with us leads us to think differently, to weigh up thoughts in a certain way. An example of that would be when my other daughters move up a year in school or achieve something in life and it leads me to consider how life would have played out. It’s almost a longing for a parallel universe, where Amelia is alive and can sing, dance and play.

When she died, I worked in a retail job I hated. I was a store manager and I was good at it but it kept me away from home a lot. A few weeks after her funeral, I decided that I’d never work in retail again because I’d missed so much of her short life. While she was learning to ride a bike in the park, I was upselling products and attempting to please angry customers. I vowed that I would chase my dreams and passions, but I wasn’t entirely sure what they were. My loves were books and videogames, the latter took priority as I found it hard to to concentrate on reading in the aftermath of what had happened. I felt I’d always been good with words, so writing seemed the best bet. I spent years writing about videogames for several outlets and one day it just didn’t feel right.

Then I spoke to a bookseller who got me back into reading, I thought I’d try my hand at writing about books, instead. I did reasonably well but something wasn’t quite right, once again. I realise now that these pursuits – while I can say with confidence that I was good at them – were distractions or attempts at plugging that gap left behind. I’d flit back and forth between hobbies trying to discover a spark that would inform me as to who I was or what I lived for. For a few years I’d lived for Amelia, I went out at 8am and returned at 6pm so we could eat, live and be happy. When she died that all changed. I have two more daughters now and while I could say I live for them, it wouldn’t be said with any confidence. That void is still there.

I suppose it could be because Amelia was my first born, it could be because I was young; 24 is an awkward age where you don’t quite feel grown up but your childhood days are certainly becoming distant. Of course it’s very likely that other bereaved parents feel the exact same way. They created this small human with someone they love. When that tiny person is born into the world many if not all parents feel a shift in themselves as they realise that everything has changed. They now must be responsible for a child; they prepare for nine months and question everything in order to adapt to the new mindset that comes with parenting.

The void also could be lingering because I was meant to be her protector. I was meant to ensure she lived a full life and I couldn’t do that. Had I have been there during the accident I couldn’t have done anything to change what would happen, but a parent’s instinct is to reach out and catch their child; to cradle them when they’re hurt. I couldn’t do that. In fact, I was then tasked with the ultimate responsibility as a parent and would end up making the decision that meant she would die.

Being told “your daughter will never walk, talk, see, hear or breathe on her own” was enough to tell me what I had to do, but that doesn’t stop it from hurting so much. When I said the words “I think it’s best to turn off her life support” I felt that I had a hand in her passing. Of course, at the time I believed that I was ending any pain and preventing an existence for her that could never be called a life. I still believe that, but it doesn’t take away from the fact that I had to physically say that sentence. It doesn’t change the fact that I had to stand by her bedside and watch as machines stopped which, in turn, ceased her breathing. That moment – those few words – opened a chasm I’ve since been trying to fill.

The worst part is that I can’t fill it. It doesn’t matter whether I try art, writing or any kind of hobby, I can never close that gap and it is killing me. I spend every day of my life as if in constant free fall, not knowing whether the parachute will open or whether I will expire first. I seem to be constantly looking for something that I can enjoy and be good at; something that I can capture and begin to deal with that void. I know deep down I’ll never fill that gap, but maybe I can bridge it.

In a few weeks I will turn 34 and I’ll be getting ever closer to the ten year anniversary of Amelia’s death and I’d really like to be on the road to some form of recovery. Over the past few weeks my depressive states have been worse than ever, leading me to contemplate the worst ways of stopping this feeling. I began to give myself a time limit, ‘if I don’t achieve X, Y, Z by a specific date, then I’d end my own life’. I realised a long time ago that I don’t want to die, I just want things to take a break; to pause so that I can think without being distracted by paying bills and find out who I am now. I want to meet people, see things and discover ways to recover.

I can’t work because of many of the PTSD aspects of my mental health. Hearing another parent call out to their child named Amelia sends me into a spiral of sadness and anger. Seeing similar ambulances causes flashbacks, as do so many songs, pictures or noises and many of these moments result in physical issues such as panic attacks. Not working limits me so much, not just from a money perspective (although that is the most troubling) but it limits who I meet, the experiences I gain. So it seems no matter what, I struggle to do anything about that vast empty spot inside me.

I’m lonely and scared in every waking moment.

 

A blog on depression

This was the TinyLetter I sent out today, but I received a reply from someone saying that I should be publishing these sort of things on my blog. I agree, so here is a blog on depression.

I’d love to give a good excuse as to why I haven’t been writing much of late. Something like ‘I’ve lost a limb’ or ‘my hamster was eaten by an alien’ but I don’t really have one. Sitting down to write is just something that hasn’t happened for me in the past few weeks. I suppose, if I dig down deep enough the explanation comes back to “depression”, as usual.

I like to think that depression is a lot like grieving in that it comes in stages. For most the grieving period only lasts a finite amount of time, whereas depression seems to burrow in and stay forever, like an unwanted house guest. Because depression sticks around, the stages keep on coming around. I couldn’t tell you what each stage is because they surely differ from person to person, but for me there’s a lot of anger, a lot of self-deprecation and many days of almost catatonic lethargy. Oddly, it’s the latter which bothers me the most.

On days when I feel I can get out and do something my black dog never strays far, but I can often put obstacles between us. However, on a day when I lay on my bed and move only for food or trips to the bathroom the black dog sits on my chest and suffocates me. I’ve had a few of these days over the past couple of weeks and they usually paint the rest of that week with a horrible shade of Submissive Grey. I tend to have a day like that and then the next few days become a pantomime where I pretend that I’m feeling okay, when really I hate every molecule of my being and want nothing more than to either go back to bed and never wake up or drop where I stand and cry.

You see, here is the major issue with depression… it’s a dirty fucking liar. When I’m laid out on my bed (not in it, that requires movement) the black dog learns to speak. It doesn’t even do so with a pleasant cartoon voice, it’s one laced with bile and venom; a deep booming voice that rattles my core. Living with that constant voice is miserable. The black dog tells me that I’m no good at anything; that I’m a terrible parent; that nobody loves or appreciates me. It’s no use arguing with him at these times because his droning is relentless. What makes it worse is that in every positive message I see around me, I’m left with a residue of self hatred. A friend of mine lands a great freelance writing position, that’s great… the black dog chews my ankle and says “you could have done that, but you didn’t because you’re useless. To be honest, you probably wouldn’t have even got the chance. Waste of space.”

I recently tried to get in touch with my long lost sister. She was around a lot when I was a kid. She’s my half sister, but when we were growing up you’d never have thought it. You see, my father really likes sex, preferably with many women all in the same week (when my mum found out he was cheating on her she threw plates at him. GO MUM!). He has, so far, had six wives and at least seven children (that we know of). Motherfucker seemed to be setting up a franchise. Anyway, my sister stopped visiting one day and through the magic of Facebook I found her and thought I’d say hello. It didn’t go as well as I’d hoped. She’s dealing with her own things and that’s fair, it’s obvious, even. But, then came the black dog “Why would she want to know you? What could you possibly bring to her life that would benefit her? Nobody wants to know you!”

So, I’ve spent the past few weeks in a weird state of disarray. I’ve swung back and forth between thinking I have some self worth to wanting to jump off of a bridge. I pondered wonderful ideas of the future and some where I don’t exist any longer. That’s not to say I’m suicidal. I don’t want to die. I don’t think many depressed people want to die – they/we/I want absence. An ability to press pause and let the world run by. We want to be able to live inside a deep blackness, away from pressure, stress and sneers, that can heal us while life ticks on and then we can come back when we’re ready.

I mention the word “sneers” as there are some out there who still believe we’re making it up, that we’re just taking the time off of work, sponging from the government while we live the good life. Thankfully, these people are generally few and far between, but one of them lives within the black dog. I don’t work. I claim disability benefits. The last time I worked was in 2010, at Christmas, for a retailer. I left the job before the seasonal contract ended because my doctor believed that my mind wasn’t stable enough to continue. I’m grateful that my benefit allows me to earn a certain amount extra if the case arises, which it did with Essex Book Festival and the very occasional writing job. However, I can’t work regularly.

[Here’s something that gets spoken about very rarely in mental health discussions. There’s a form of OCD called Pure ‘O’. I’m not sure where the name comes from but it diagnoses people who cannot control the images their brain sends them. It’s doesn’t mean they’re crazy or dangerous, but they will see images of them hurting other people or themselves. It will scare them to the point of physical illness. It did with me. I won’t go into the imagery I saw or the intrusive thoughts I had because they’re horribly upsetting. It’s a very debilitating mental illness and one that took me two and a half years to get through. It stopped me from working.]

Over the past few weeks the black dog has goaded me constantly about this. It gives voice to those dissenting comments that do the rounds on the Daily Mail and makes me feel like I’m dirt. I want nothing more than to get out and work – to earn money and live a better life, but I can’t. I set up that Patreon in the hope that my writing would bring me in some spending money, but I’ve neglected it through a fear of ‘not being good enough’. Even writing this, which is only sent to 42 people, I’ve cursed my way through it. I’m inwardly screaming “You can’t write. You have no talent. Nobody cares!”

I never feel like I can rely on myself any longer. I feel empty and hopeless. I’m trying so goddamn hard every day to get better, to take baby steps on the way to a different life, but I can’t do it. I feel as if I’ve let down too many people along the way; I don’t/can’t represent myself or my skills very well and people just think I’m a fuck up. All I want is a chance, an opportunity to do what I love and to make something of myself, but something holds be back like it’s grabbed onto a fucking chew toy. Yes, this is likely the black dog typing now, but no matter what anybody says these thoughts will continue to echo through my mind.

TinyLetter

Utter Biblio

Hello all,

Just a quick blog post to say that I don’t think I’ll be blogging here much any more because I’ve discovered TinyLetter. I’ve decided to start sending weekly newsletters out to all who subscribe using this link – https://tinyletter.com/UtterBiblio – it will feature lots of books, also some videogames and lots of mental health discussions. Receiving the letter costs nothing and it’s an interesting way for me to communicate via a personal letter.

One week per month will be dedicated to books and I’ll write mini reviews of everything I’ve read in that month. I hope to see some of you subscribe!

Kisses x

View original post

Sponsored by KitKat

On Thursday I had to go to the hospital for a psychiatric evaluation; it’s something that has been booked for a while – it’s also something that had me scared. I was meant to go just before Christmas but couldn’t make it due to illness. Anyway, I finally got to the appointment and saw two mental health nurses and a psychiatrist. What followed was a pretty gruelling one hour session where I had to delve into the minutiae of my childhood and, of course, the passing of my daughter (which is surely the major catalyst for my issues). I knew it would be a struggle, unearthing all of those buried emotions is tiring in many ways. I left the session utterly drained, but also buoyed by the help they offered and the act of talking.

The talking part is something I’ve grown more used to. I’m always pretty honest about my struggles with my mental health and the act of talking does so much to help. You’re not only airing out the internal feelings, but the conversation acts as the second person taking some of the burden, which allows you to flex your mind all the more. for the first time in weeks I felt lighter as everything poured out from me. It was only the second time I’ve ever been so honest with someone (the first is with my uni mentor who probably knows me better than anyone else). For the past fortnight I’ve been trapped in a cyclical storm of suicidal thoughts. It started, as it usually does, with a sharp blow to my confidence, which then becomes a period of self-loathing. My instinct is to self harm in these moments. I stand in private and begin to cut my left arm repeatedly. I’ve reached a point where the skin is beginning to harden like leather from the scar tissue being opened over and over again. Usually I’ll use the same implement, but my brain started to think on other things.

As someone who does a bit of art here and there, I have scalpels and craft knives… You can see where this is going, I don’t need to spell it out. I started to think constantly about cutting myself harder, deeper and moving from the crook of my arm down to my wrist. Thankfully I always managed to distract myself. Obviously, being totally honest with the medical team I spoke about this. Their faces all moved from medical query to genuine concern. It was clear to them that there is/was something very wrong.

So, we delved deeper. They asked more questions and I had to say things I’ve kept inside me for years. Everything that happened to my daughter was trodden over again; I had to move through each memory as if rebuilding them from scratch. This wasn’t a simple look back at what happened, I had to describe rooms, the way she looked, the things I saw. It wasn’t just about Amelia and how she is represented in my mind, but also the goings on around me at the time. I had to describe when I saw a 13 year old girl die on the ward – the wave of doctors and nurses who ran to her puling along the crash cart so they could tease her back from blackness. I spoke about the baby who was in the bed next to Amelia; she’d come in because of a cold which rapidly became complicated. She was on a ventilator for most of the time she was there. She survived. As did the 13 year old girl.

I had to talk about what I saw when I first and last looked at Amelia in Great Ormond Street Hospital. When I first saw her, she was in a coma – half of her head shaved from where the doctors had operated on her brain in an attempt to stop the swelling caused in the car accident. I wished my wife (then my girlfriend) was with me. I remembered how my hours were spent looking from her, naked except a nappy (which she’d have hated at 3 years old), covered in tubes and surgical tape and a monitor that sat beside her bed tracking the pressure inside her skull. We were told that if the number was to rise above 34, she was in trouble. It stayed around 34-41 for about 75% of her time in the hospital.

I was urged to remember the final moments. My girlfriend in a hospital 30 miles away and me stood with the specialist as they told me her brain was 80% dead. There was no longer any definition between the areas of her brain. I forgot until this conversation that they’d shown me her CAT scan. I suppose it was to emphasise how ill she was. It was obvious to me that they were telling me that we had to let her go. They spoke of how, if she even survived (on the last day they found she had pneumonia) she would forever lay in bed never speaking, seeing, hearing, eating…

It’s obvious that there’s never a good point in a parent’s life where they would be fine turning off their child’s life support machine. I was 24. At this age I should have been doing so many other things with my family and suddenly I was making a decision that while it was 100% the correct decision to make, it was one that would forever alter every single person around me.

As I told my story, these three medical professionals all looked moved. Their hands rose to their chests or mouths in the usual places, they each looked away when I became emotional. They asked a few more questions before we took a five minute break. I was re-diagnosed with many different mental health conditions which will totally change the way I live my life for the next year. I’d heard this before, “Oh, you have this, this and this”, but this was the deepest anyone had ever burrowed into me.

“It’s clear you have depression, but we would classify it as depression with psychotic tendencies”

Oh.

“And obviously you still suffer from anxiety, both general and particularly social”

Yeah.

“And we’d also say you have an Obsessive Personality Disorder which is being compounded by Post Traumatic Stress Disorder”

Right.

Fucking terrifying! Psychotic? PTSD? Words that hold a great deal of stigma and power in the hands of others. But, I was in the best place. They talked to me. They told me they wanted me to get better and survive.

I walked away with a plan for the next six months. I have to be seen regularly, I have to take even more pills to try to balance the equilibrium in my brain, I have to go through bereavement counselling and also talk with a psychologist once per week. That’s great, I’m feeling positive and have an idea that life may eventually return to some form of stable reality.

“But, you need to stop everything else”

What?

Apparently, It’s a good idea for me to pause my university study. I have to put hold on any attempts to find writing work, etc. They believe that the next few months are critical for my wellbeing and are unsure that I will cope with all the new treatment if I’m juggling so many other things. So, for the next six months minimum I won’t be pursuing any of those options. I’m taking a break, if you like. (Whether I DO take a break from uni is to be decided. The routine helps)

I will continue blogging about my mental health journey here. I will still be doing all the things I enjoy. And I’ll keep tweeting, however this is something that will be limited. In fact I’m limiting my internet access completely in the hope to pay more attention to myself rather than distract my mind with inane arguments on Twitter, etc.

I’m writing this for the few people who care, for those I’ve come to know, respect and love through my blogs and Twitter, but most of all I’m writing it for YOU (and me). If you are depressed, anxious or have a feeling that something just isn’t right, then please talk to someone. It hurts like fucking hell when you’re doing it, but without talking you’re going to continue to hurt. There are options, there are people who care and everyone wants you to live a good life. You don’t have to talk to a friend, just sit in front of your GP and be honest with them. It helps.

Where is the Love?

I was luckily gifted with a little money yesterday as a late Christmas gift from a friend and the first thing I thought to buy was books. I know many other book lovers feel the same excited anticipation when thinking of book shopping. I haven’t bought myself any new books for a while and was eager to head into Waterstones to see what I could find. I nearly always take at least half an hour when I go in because I like to read blurbs, open books at random and read a page, etc. Today I spent about 45 minutes browsing the shelves for two reasons;

  1. For some reason I couldn’t summon up any excitement about buying books once I was in the shop.
  2. Looking around me, I felt entirely underwhelmed by the majority of books I saw.

The first point is quite likely due to the fact that I’ve only finished two books in as many months. Despite #diversedecember getting my enthusiasm going I just couldn’t settle on a book. I tried several different genres, some non-fiction and nothing worked. I thought it might be because my depression has been pretty awful since the summer (when I last felt the passion for books as I used to) and this severely limited me in what I felt. I didn’t want to read deep, emotional books because my own mood wouldn’t allow it or couldn’t cope. I tried humour but felt no pull… Today, standing in Waterstones surrounded by books I was concerned that my love for books had faded.

This has happened once before. An avid reader as a child and teen, I stopped reading when my daughter died in 2007 and didn’t pick up a book until 2010. At that time they didn’t give me an immediate release from life; the act of enjoyment was slow-burning compared to watching a film or playing a videogame. I mentioned this recently on Twitter after finding that 40-50 pages into several books all I ended up with was a pile of books paused on various pages. I’m not entirely sure how to fix this feeling – ultimately I know that deep down I still love books as much as ever, but the old feelings of awe at a novel seems out of reach.

The second point, and this mostly relates to the fact that I wasn’t shopping in a London based Waterstones, is that most of the books on display felt underwhelming. Blockbuster thrillers, celebrity biographies, pseudo-science and big names were all that was on display it seemed. I wanted to find the more obscure titles, the debut authors, the translated fiction. Outside of London, retailers don’t/can’t take as much of a chance on what they stock so everything I saw are the titles that have been constantly discussed or promoted on Twitter. Girls on trains, new girls that have gone, memoirs of the last five years of a celeb life because their last memoir came out five years ago… I wonder if this is connected with the first point, in that I’ve become tired of seeing the same books being pushed.

Every day in December I started to find out about authors I’d never heard of before because of #diversedecember. These lesser known books were appealing because they hadn’t been flogged to death by publicists with big budgets. [Although many of them deserve bigger publicity budgets – that’s a topic for another day, though]. I’m hoping that throughout 2016 I will find more of these more obscure books and authors as it might help with the first point above. I want to be excited by books again, I want to discover new stories and worlds as I once did. I know that my mental health is a huge part of all of this, but there is nothing more frustrating than finding no joy in something you know within that you still love.

(PS. I did actually buy a few books in the end and my fingers are crossed that they scratch the itch!)

Best of 2015 – Books, Music & Games

I tweeted these pics recently, but a few people asked what some of the music and games were, so I thought I’d knock up a quick blog post to highlight some of my favourite things from the year.

Top 10 Books 2015

  • Spill Simmer Falter Wither by Sara Baume – This book stayed with me all year. Powerful, yet quiet and subtle look at loneliness with a heavy melancholy feel the goes out with a bang. Also the best love letter to pet dogs anywhere. I went to London in the summer to see publicists and this was THE book we kept talking about.
  • The Last Pilot by Benjamin Johncock – An astonishing debut that looks at grief and loss when bottled up. The novel tracks a test pilot in the days of the space race and hits you right in the heart.
  • A Year Of Marvellous Ways by Sarah Winman – A mystical and wondrous novel that reads like a myth or legend. Surreal at times, but always written with style and flair.
  • The long way to a small angry planet by Becky Chambers – Brilliant Sci-Fi that captures both the vastness of space but also the tight knit idea of a team. Think Firefly meets Star Wars.
  • The Year of the Runaways by Sunjeev Sahota – Such a moving story of illegal immigrants from India looking for a better life in the UK. Filled with wonderful characters both lovely and evil, if it doesn’t move you to tears you’re probably dead inside.
  • The Shore by Sara Taylor – Weird, trippy, apocalyptic brilliance that weaves together stories about a world of lost souls.
  • One Night, Markovitch by Ayelet Gundar-Goshen – This book lingers in my mind because of the characters and the journey they take.
  • All My Puny Sorrows by Miriam Toews – An incredibly stark look at a depression sufferer who repeatedly attempts to kill herself and how her family deal with the situation. Brutally honest, expertly written and one that brought me to my metaphorical knees.
  • Our Souls at Night by Kent Haruf – A masterpiece of sparse fiction from a legend of American writing. Haruf is easily my favourite US writer and I was brought to tears when he died earlier this year. This final novel is a beautiful story of love and loss and easily stands with his best work, Plainsong.
  • A Brief History of Seven Killings by Marlon James – A slight cheat as the hardback was released in 2014, but I read this when it was longlisted for the Booker. This is easily one of my favourite books for the excitement, the use of language and the back and forth between an epic cast.

Top 10 music 2015

Rather than describe each album or EP, I’ll just list the artists with links to a video on YouTube.

Top 10 videogames 2015

I have to say, 2015 has been a good year for videogames, but one thing I’ve noticed is that many games have been incredibly long. This means that most of the games on this list are still unfinished, but I’ve played a bloody good chunk of all of them. I really want to give an honourary shout out to The Binding of Isaac – this game has swallowed more of my hours than any other (around 250 hours) and has sparked many YouTube marathons of Tubers such as Northernlion, Mathas and Cobalt Streak. Click them for trailers, innit.

  • Fallout 4 – Yes, the story is a let down and the factions are all a bit rubbish, but the open world of The Commonwealth is amazing. I tend to just play this to wander aimlessly now.
  • Life is Strange – Episodic gaming is THE thing and I don’t think any have done it better this year than Life is Strange. I still need to finish the last two episodes (and play Tales from the Borderlands which may have stolen this space!) but what I’ve experienced is great.
  • Her Story – Now this “game” is one that everybody should play. Watching through police interview recordings to solve a crime and having to scour the videos for keywords that may open up new evidence… Just brilliant.
  • Witcher 3 – Yes, I got burned out on this game (I think everyone did!) but what I played I adored and I’ve earmarked this to restart and play over the Christmas period. Proper RPG with amazing writing and characters.
  • Bloodborne – God damn this fucking game. It is so hard… and it’s the easiest of the recent games by From Software. But, it’s fantastic and it will be my go to game for a challenge until Dark Souls 3.
  • Everybody’s Gone To The Rapture – Who would have thought that walking aimlessly around a Shropshire village after everyone has vanished could be so good? Follow the wispy and sparkly trails to fill in points of the story and find out what happened. Amazing story brought alive by the picturesque setting.
  • Invisible Inc – I picked this up purely on word of mouth and I fancied a tactical stealth game. This did not disappoint. Great mechanics, humour and will soon be out for PS4.
  • Downwell –  I love me a game with rogue-like elements (see above for Binding of Isaac hours!) and this vertical shooter really scratches the itch. I’m playing it on PC, but I hear the iOS version is solid.
  • Rise of the Tomb Raider – Lara is back and better than ever… well, the exploration is fantastic and the environments are breathtaking. The shooting elements get a little tiresome, but it’s a minor quibble in a game that feels like true exploration.
  • The Swindle – You’ve got 100 days to pull of the heist of the century and you must work your way up from robbing houses in the slums up to hacking computers in casinos. This Steampunk rogue-lite has plenty of upgrade paths and ideas… it is rock solid, too.

So, that was my 2015. I didn’t see enough films to rate those (but Star Wars was awesome) and TV for me is just Anime, Masterchef and Game of Thrones, really. Here’s to 2016!

#ReadDiverse2016

ReadDiverse_TwitterBanner
I didn’t expect the reception to be so huge when I coined #diversedecember. Bloggers, readers, journalists and publishers have taken the hashtag and begun to explore diverse voices and stories. Although this initiative was conceived after the World Book Night list announcement, it’s clear that diversity needs to be considered at all times when reading. Over December, so far, Naomi and I have been inundated with recommendations for writers of colour, which is wonderful to see. We want that to continue and so we have decided that #diversedecember will carry on throughout 2016. Of course, we can’t use that hashtag any longer and there are many other fantastic initiatives promoting writers of colour, so we had a think about what we wanted to achieve.
#ReadDiverse2016 will focus on BAME books just as Diverse December has done, however, it’s clear from our interactions on Twitter that the hashtag has begun to touch on many ideas of diversity. Going forward, we hope to help and promote authors that identify as LGBTIQ, those who are disabled and those who suffer from mental health conditions. As this idea sparked from a lack of BAME representation, that will remain our primary focus, but we can’t have diversity without every single voice. Hashtags such as #TranslationThurs and #ReadWomen are already doing stellar work, as are The Green Carnation Prize. They each do a great job in highlighting books by authors that readers want to relate to – we’d like to add to that.
#diversedecember has taught me one very important thing – books are universal and everyone should have an equal opportunity to tell their story in their voice. Without Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic authors getting the recognition they deserve, we could be losing out on future generations of creative people who may believe that there is no place for them.
I hope that you’ll join in with me and Naomi as we promote diversity with the #ReadDiverse2016 hashtag on Twitter. On UtterBiblio, I will be aiming for 50% of the books I read in the New Year to be written by a BAME author. I know that Naomi has her own plans, which will be announced very soon, you can find her blog HERE. #diversedecember would never have been as successful and popular as it is without Naomi’s help. She can say things in a much better way than I can and she has a tremendous passion that’s hard to top.
Have a great Christmas and I’ll see you in 2016 for #ReadDiverse2016!