Sunday, 28 December 2014

Creator Destroyer

Yesterday I completed what is hopefully the last draft of my current story. I have sent it to a friend for final feedback. It’s been a beautiful beast, weighing in at way over the word count in its first incantation. I felt bad but I had to brutalise my baby. It’s one thing sculpting a little excess away but it’s quite another hacking limbs off.
My circle of critics have been brilliant. Some of them are splendidly harsh, some so supportive. They are all constructive; they have all helped me carve. These people are not necessarily my best writing buddies, they are my best critics. I’m not a natural critic but I make a bloody effort for these particular people because I know they do that for me. My course is making me better; I’ve always done the feedback sandwich but now I don’t just do words and sentences, I do plot and structure and sense and sometimes suggestions.
This story is not in my normal tone; it’s harsher, bleaker with less whimsy so I have felt more exposed collecting opinions. We were encouraged to incorporate an autobiographical element and I used my job. This, along with a first person voice drags me closer to my protagonist. I feel like prefixing my attachment with ‘This is NOT ME’.
What is wonderful is that I still have time. The deadline is luxuriously distant and I am on holiday. Two weeks off work. Nice, strange, unnerving. I suppose I should hunt for my next story and not surrender to daydreams again.

Monday, 24 November 2014

Continuous Creative Obsession

I’ve long known that visual artists are well along the insanity spectrum, being married to one and counting many among my friends. In particular photo-realists, whose works fill me with anxiety for their crazy obsessive souls. But what about writers? I’d never tarred us with the same brush (Love that dead metaphor; I’m painting you in slimy grime.) Of course, I know many eccentric writers, and many poets seem quite strange…but we are articulate. Oh yes, we can string a sentence together. However I am confronted recently by our particular craziness. My current writing community has recently been flooded with introspects; gently friendly but busy building worlds of the fantastic. Good ones too. My little magical realist flashes now seem quite rooted in reality, as I suppose they should be. And I get it, that world building, that concept of an epic eight book series, those thousand pagers; they are the equivalent of the photo-realists, they frighten me with their intricacy, with their accuracy, with their obsession. But they have what photo-realists don’t, tonnes and tonnes of creativity. If I’m honest too I’m jealous. Like my visual artist circle these people have continuous creative obsession, which I only ever have in waves.

Sunday, 16 November 2014

Daydream Survivor

Hurrah! Hurrah! I had an idea. It’s worth being blocked just for the euphoria of unblockage. I am a sink and now the creativity is flowing through again. Is it a good idea? Actually I’m not sure it matters, what matters is there are words coming out of me again, ideas, images, quite horrible images, but we can’t all be pretty, can we?  It’s even on brief, kind of. Well, I can relate it to a book we’ve read and there are a couple of autobiographical elements; for example I’ve stolen my workplace for the setting.

So…words, words, words. There are still too many daydreams occupying my brain but the story worm is struggling to get known and is carving out some space for itself. I’ve even done some research! Not ‘sit in an archive and look through ancient texts with special gloves’ research, but at least a bit better than Wikipedia. Trepanning, demons, exorcism, Human Resources; as I said, not pretty.

Is it possible to be endlessly creative? Should we indulge our lulls? Anything must be better than my relentless self-reproachment. A bit like hangovers, which, if you’re properly set up for can be as luxurious and decadent as the night before. ‘This week I’m not going to write.’  And should we force ourselves into one art form? Tenacity increases skill, but imagination is a monstrous greedy infant, and I confess I’ve sort of enjoyed letting mine be unchanelled and unwritten recently even when I know sanity must be restored, jobs must be done, shoes must be cleaned, legs must be shaved, nails must be clipped.

Maybe it is about getting back to being an animal. I remind myself I am an animal when I know I’m wrong, I’ve done something irrational, when I’m sad. We might be clever but we’re still driven by animal instincts. And that’s refreshing; maybe I just needed to get my animality back. It’s as refreshing and frightening as looking at the sky when it is full of stars and realising how completely insignificant one is. Less than an ant, a grain of sand, less than dust. 

Saturday, 8 November 2014

We are all alone

Even if you have a partner, friends, family, you are on your own. There is no one else in your mind with you. That perpetual irritating voice? That’s you too. We can kid ourselves, surround ourselves with others, have social networks spanning reality and hyper-reality. But when you shut your eyes it’s just you. You are responsible. If you’re happy, if you’re a mess. The buck stops at your door. And all this stuff; people, jobs, community, you may feel connected but it’s not quite true. 

There is a way to turn this around and that is to acknowledge and accept it, to celebrate it, celebrate being separate, being an individual, being unique. Being You.

Sunday, 2 November 2014

Only Fit for Tomato Soup

I am in a fog, in a fug of the common cold and the drugs that are meant to suppress it. My thoughts stray away from me like spiders’ webs gliding through the air. I sleep, I read, I dream. But did I brush my teeth did I lock the door did I remember the things I had to do?
I lied; this cold is not common. Usually I continue, soldier on, battle through but this one has felled me. I am dull and slow and sleepy. My focus has slithered off somewhere more stimulating. Weak, helpless, and all I can do is sleep, dream, read. Maybe, currently, this is what my mind requires.

Monday, 20 October 2014

Paper Planets

I’ve no time for reality,
There are other places I’d rather be.
Lost in the intricacies of complex plots-
Hiding the world behind slivers of tree,
Submerged in the silver screen
Or eating from the smaller crueler box
Or my own creations; day dreams, stories,
Pretend friends.
When I look out of the window
It is grey and raining
When I close my eyes
I am walking along the water’s edge
Of a tropical tripical paradise
Come back! Come back!
What to?
Back to back to back meetings
And emails
Telling me what to do
Fluorescent strobes of supermarket,
No, let me travel in my mind
Let me, let me
Set me