Future's Venture Foundation

Ria Hartley

you were a writer
you ever
pen to paper.
just because you were not writing
does not mean you were not writing
― Nayyirah Waheed

I began writing in my own style from around the age of ten. My writing included sketches, marks, diagrams and collages. I wrote as a form of survival, a way to make sense of the chaos around me, and to explore my ideas and express myself, but I kept my writing secret & hidden. I was afraid that my writing might get people into trouble, or perhaps break up my family. I was afraid of my ideas and imagination, that they were too queer, that I would be punished or humiliated if anyone were to read them. So I never shared my work and I never spoke my truth, until I found a voice through my arts practice many years later.

In 2005 I was diagnosed as severely dyslexic and in 2017 I was diagnosed with Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). These nuerodiversities have an impact on my Mental Health, and vice versa. One of the challenges of dyslexia is the time and energy it takes to process written & verbal information, analyse and understand it, and then respond with understanding & clarity and having ADHD means it can be very hard to gain the focus & concentration needed to produce my ideas, thinking, concepts, reflections, stories and poetics in written form.

I have always been a writer but never had the chance to develop my writing and in particular develop the ways in which I write as a neurodiverse person. I excel when I have the space & freedom to create – when I narrow myself my creativity declines rapidly. I have been working in the arts & cultural sector for many years, trying to achieve my work through a neurotypical frame, and this has had an adverse effect on my health, wellbeing and practice overall. Moving forward, I am exploring the gifts and abilities my neurodiversity offers, and how I can thrive through creating in the ways that best suit me and not the industry I work within. The Radical Independent Artist fund is enabling me to spend two days a week to explore and develop my neurodiverse writing practice, lending me the creative freedom necessary to excel in this area of my practice.