Gems from a Creative Mind: a poetry book by Doreen Kelly

Who could have imagined twenty or thirty years ago, that the teenager who tested at the higher end of average in IQ tests but was struggling to maintain passing test results at school, would become a published poet? I am currently struggling with a bit of imposter syndrome, low self-esteem and confidence. To paraphrase a punishment exercise my whole class were once made to write:- Self-esteem is hard to gain, but easy to lose.

Anyway, back to my creative writing/poem book, I am very grateful to Susie Agnew for suggesting this project and also for finding a publisher. My gratitude also goes to Helen for helping with the pulling together of my submissions to Dyslexia Voice and A Life Less Ordinary and with the editing process. Thank you so much to Nicola Morgan for stepping in to write the introduction; I struggled for weeks, perhaps months, with the idea of writing an intro. Eventually I had to admit defeat. Thank you to Donna from Glasgow Women’s Library for our Adult Literacy sessions, especially during the first lockdown, where I wrote a lot of the smaller pieces not about dyslexia in my poem book. I was very grateful to Donna for the sessions even before the pieces of writing were needed, as the Zoom sessions kept me sane and less anxious during a really difficult time.

I found the actual creation of the book quite a long and drawn out process, as there was a lot of going over the same material before it was sent to the publisher. Then the same process began over again once the publisher had worked on it, and once again when it was passed to the printers. And yet I still found a couple of things to be amended even in the final proof before printing.

But it was all worth it, now that I can see and hold the finished book.

We decided that my craft and other visual creative work should be included too. It was suggested that I should illustrate my creative writing because many of the pieces are quite hard-hitting, whereas my visual creations are often joyful and colourful.

Image of book pages

So, again, who would have thought the girl who was made to rip up her homework in third year (in front of the whole class), make the walk of shame to the bin and back and then got a D in higher Art and Design would publish an illustrated book? Yes, I would call my illustrations naïve, but perhaps I am following in the tradition of L. S. Lowry’s matchstick people.

I had to battle my Imposter Syndrome to write the above, so imagine my confusion and surprise when I showed a fellow volunteer at the Women’s Library and she flipped through it, saying “how beautiful, and I haven’t even started reading it yet”. Then, when she started reading it, I left her to it, as I was working as the paid cleaner at the time. When I came back past she was in tears. I was disturbed and went to a colleague, confused and distressed about having made someone so strong cry. My colleague very calmly and simply stated “That just shows you how powerful it is.”

My book “Gems from a Creative Mind” will shortly be available for pre-order from Dyslexia Scotland. Keep an eye on Dyslexia Scotland’s social media and website for further details.

Doreen Kelly, Resource Centre and Blog volunteer