When words fail by @Durre_Shahwar

Cross-posted from: Her Story
Originally published: 25.01.16

Growing up, it was always a close call between art or literature. I even looked up joint degrees that allowed you to study art AND literature at university, before deciding on literature in the end, knowing that it would be better to get to the core of one which might be ‘better in the long run’. Still, art and literature are not two completely opposite crafts, but very interlinked (William Blake, anyone?) but I guess that’s common knowledge. So since then, a part of me always wanted to set aside time and materials to paint, to draw, to create. To return to the raw smell of paint, the way it layers, moulds, hardens and leaves its marks and scent for days after. To me, colours are fascinating. Even digital art is; playing with textures and brushes on photoshop, manipulating images to make them completely unrecognisable. Yet I prefer the former; the physical, ‘traditional’ form of art. The watercolours, the pencils, the brushes. In a technological world, it feels good to return to something that you know came from the earth, the plants. It feels good to switch off.

DSC02083-2And that is one of the things that I do when words fail me. When I have something to say but I can’t put it into words. When I know that I should write, with thoughts and feelings that only ever linger on the brink and never form into a whole, I paint instead. It is tiring but in thattherapeutic, draining-it-out-of-you way. And I am definitely no pro. I can’t paint true to life landscapes or still lifes. Hell, I even struggle to create a decent abstract, but that is besides the point. We spend too much of our lives wanting to be the master of things. It is good to strive for perfection as long as we don’t let it become a critical voice that limits us. Sometimes, it is okay not to be perfect at things that are fun. 

I guess the only thing not fun about it is painting in a small room with no dedicated space and decent sunlight in the winter.

Another thing that seems to help me is exercise or any form of physical activity. Be it going for long nature walks or doing 2 hours of yoga. Yesterday, I went rock climbing after which I spent the whole evening setting up and organising another website I co-edit. A website that I had been avoiding up until now. Yet even through my aching arms, I could feel a surge of productivity, motivation and self belief running through me. Pushing yourself to new limits and strains physically definitely has a psychologically unlocking effect.


HerStoryI’m a writer, a book reviewer, and an MA Creative Writing graduate. As a South Asian female, I’ve identified as a feminist, since a teen and to this day, I’m writing about what that means and trying to put my experiences into words. My blog was named ‘Herstory’ after my research into Woolf’s A Room of One’s Own during my degree. The term has been the driving factor behind my writing. We all have stories to tell, voices that need to be heard, especially from women of colour, and I hope to be one of them. On my blog, I write book reviews and other content related to the craft of writing and sometimes, academia. I’m interested in fiction, non-fiction, poetry, mental health, intersectional feminism, gender, religion, art, yoga – though not always in that order or mixture! I’m slowly getting my writing published, and trying to review more book by women/women of colour, for which, I am happy to be contacted for via my blog or on Twitter: @Durre_Shahwar.