1st Tuesday Of The Month

Slow 5th of May












When I was a kid, I couldn’t read or write or tie my shoelaces.
The narrative goes like this:

I was in special needs reading class.
My teachers told my mum and dad I’d never amount to anything.
I was slow.
I was less.
Until, everyone was relieved because I was diagnosed as dyslexic.
And then, through hard work and determination
And because I channelled the great British, bloody minded, Victorian spirit
That made bridges and mills and children with cholera sprout out of the earth and litter the streets
Enabling the rich
And the quick
And the meriting
To all afford better shoes
So they could step over it all
Step over it
Step on, into it
Step on it and over it
Step into progress.
Becoming progress.
Willing themselves.
Becoming themselves.

Because I breathed in all of this

I overcame.

I showed those teachers.
I was not lazy.
Or slow.
Or stupid.
I was simply special.
Wonderful in my own way.
And now look at me.
Here I am.
A playwright and screenwriter.

So the narrative goes.

I have bought into this narrative.
Still buy into this narrative.
Have had this narrative thrust upon me.
Have felt how it makes others around me feel better about me.
Have felt how it makes me feel better about myself.





Or only partly true.


In the way that the earth has flat bits but that doesn’t mean it’s actually flat.

(Really. Sorry. The earth is not fucking flat).

In that kind of way?

In that partly/sometimes true but not really all true, kind of way.

Odd to be realising this.

It’s odd.

But then that’s what living through a pandemic will do for you.

For those of us lucky enough to be well, it makes us take stock.

I think.

That’s what I’ve been doing this month.

I think.

I think I’ve been taking stock.

Taking stock, slowly, about my slowness.
About slowness in general.
About how I view slowness.
How I pejorative-ize slowness.
That wasn’t a word. But it is now. Because I just used it.

Get on with it.
Get on with it.
Hang on.
Keep hanging on.
Keep rushing to try and get to where everyone else is.

Thinking about all of that.

In the narrative that I sit with, have created, have had created for me, about my battle to overcome my disability.


The slowness and difficulty is always the enemy.
My disability is always the enemy.
Being slow
Being unable
People who are slow
People who are disabled
You know
Those people with underlying issues
Those people who are lost in situations that most are not lost in
There, but for the grace of
Thank fuck that’s not me and
The vulnerable
Our vulnerability
My vulnerability.

All of the shame that comes with that.

All of the shame and vulnerability that comes with that, but which is too awful to acknowledge, so which becomes erased almost as soon as it comes into


For my benefit and your benefit.

And in this May time
This pretty spring a ling time
A ding, a ring, a ming time
I find myself questioning and thinking about all of that.

The shame and vulnerability of slowness.

In a time when eugenicists are out and proud in government again.

The shame and vulnerability of slowness

I mean this in a militant, uncomfortable way. For you and for me.

In a time when we prioritise, value and encourage pace, efficiency, productivity.
When we admire people for being prolific.
When we chastise ourselves for not getting enough done.
For being slow
Achieving less
For not being good enough.

What are we missing?
What are we saying?
What are we not admitting to thinking?

I mean this in a militant, uncomfortable way.
For you and for me.

I’m really asking you to think about that.

It is uncomfortable.
Easier to move on.

But let’s not.

Good enough? For what?

Last month I missed a deadline.
I missed it by just over a month.
My play was a month late.

I was and am mortified by that.

Good enough for what?

I rarely miss a deadline.
It is a red-hot fear of mine.
I spend my life hiding the fact that I work twice as long to achieve what most achieve twice as fast.
To fit in.
To appear professional.
To feel good enough.
So, missing this deadline stank of defeat to me.

This month I had to admit defeat.

I knew there was something missing in my play, but I could not see what it was.
And because I knew there was something missing, I could not find a way to finish.
I was almost there but not quite. Not quite. Almost but
And then the lockdown came.
And my caring responsibilities mushroomed.
And then I found I could not think.
And then I found it was enough to be dealing with the new normal.
And the deadline slipped further away from me.
And slipped.
I got back hold of it. Promised the play would be ready, ‘really, very soon’
But then it slipped again.
I found I could focus on the work I do for The Writing Squad. So I found myself doing that.
And the play slipped further.
But I didn’t know what to do. So I just breathed in the slowness and let myself drift.
And space and time opened up.
Even though I was busy with caring responsibilities and Writing Squad work.
Something opened up.
I found I could write again.
I started to write my play again.


I found I was writing.
And the play’s problem began to find its resolution
Solutions began to emerge.
I felt my way through it.
I never do that.
Only this time I did.
And then, finally the play arrived.
It said
‘I’m done’
And it wasn’t lying.
It was there.
A month late but still, done.
I finished my play in the time my play wished to be written in.

And, while it scares me to admit it, I think it’s a better play for all of that.

So? Good enough for what?

In my zoom conversation with my friend, we talked about knowing we are slow but how we hide it. How we feel shame about it. And yet, how, in our very different ways, we are beginning to wonder if our slowness is in fact our (as yet!) unharnessed super power.

They said “when we say ‘not good enough’ I always think ‘good enough, for what?”. I’ve been thinking about those words and our whole conversation, a lot.

I daydream about building enough confidence in this idea of embracing my slowness, to allow it to become my superpower.
I daydream about stepping aside from the idea of ‘struggling with my dyslexia’ and seeing what my power looks like, unshackled from shame.
I daydream about living in a world where you and I say ‘everyone’s gift matters’ and you and I, really meaning it.

I look at my play and it’s one of the best things I’ve written, for ages.
I feel trepidation.
Knowing that it was commissioned for a world that existed before lockdown.
That it might not find a home in the world that is coming.
It may never see the light of day.
I know all of that.
But still, the feeling persists, that I have written something truly of me, that I usually would not have allowed myself the time to write.

I hope, after lockdown’s end, that I keep allowing myself to explore what my slowness could bring, if I gave it space to breathe.

We’ll see.

I have time to work this shit out.

It’s not like we’re going anywhere.





Also by Emma,