I have no control over what comes out

I am sometimes afraid of my own writing.  I fear that I will reveal too much of myself to the wrong people and this (my crazy head tells me) is guaranteed to result in an event of apocalyptic proportions, of exactly what I have no idea.  Except that it will be monumentally bad.

I allow this fear to prevent me from writing.  This course has been a catalyst for ‘blootering’ it and giving me the freedom to just write, but in non-class situations fear can still rear its ugly mug and laugh in my face, becoming a block once more.

I was interviewing today in what I like to describe as my main job, the one that pays the bills, my bread and butter so to speak.  My ‘other’ job is not exactly work since it consists largely of watching people, shows and gigs, with a bit of ice-cream selling in the middle.

Thomas Truax

This is Thomas Truax.  He is an American musician, but I’d add performance artist and sound artist to that description.  I am also a little in love with this Victorian Gothic vibe he has going on, playing instruments he has made himself from a range of materials.  The Hornicator is made from a gramophone speaker, a mass of wires and (at a wild guess) the mike from a megaphone, whilst Mother Superior is a programmable drum machine made from what appears to be bicycle wheel parts.  Truax’s material shape-shifts from the hysterically funny to the oddly spellbinding to credible post punk riffs  – all delivered with an infectious familiarity that you feel compelled to pay rapt attention to.  Despite being paid, I do not view this as work.  It was an absolute joy of a shift.

However, I digress.  As much as I would like to fritter my word count away on Thomas Truax, and yet another obsessive musical journey, I was talking about my main job, which I hardly consider work either because I truly love it.

We were interviewing for a support writer for one of the projects I manage.  A section of the interview was a writing activity, so we could get a taster of how the candidates would deliver a session with our participants.  This is where the fear kicked in.  Cue lots of inner monologue expletives.  We did three separate activities from the interviews, so to fulfil my blog commitment, and to avoid typing up the five pages we are meant to write for Kirsty for a little longer, I will share what came out.

Interview 1

dark day colours

masquerading as her true self

midnight black and muddy white

exposed

Interview 2

The autumn leaves dance around her face as she gazes up in wonder at the man who seemed like a giant.  He shows her how to make a sycamore seed into a helicopter, his diamond blue eyes twinkling with mischief.  Rubbing the stalk between his palms, the seed spirals off into the rain grey sky.

Interview 3

Don’t give me the whole truth

But don’t feed me no lies

Don’t give me flickered glances

I want to remember your eyes

Don’t fill me with heavy sorrow

And don’t you dare cry

Don’t give me a wave, love

When you say goodbye

Writing

I have no control over what comes out, but I’m learning that isn’t a bad thing.  I’m starting to get what Kirsty is trying to teach us about not discarding the scored out lines and words.  I’m learning to let go.  I’ve even used a little bit of what came out today for my five pages.  It isn’t finished or polished but it is becoming something.  I think.  I need to let myself colour outside the lines for a bit so that I can get the best picture and remind myself that sometimes, the best picture is outside the lines.

 

 

Today, I finished…

We read an extract from Grief is the Thing with Feathers by Max Porter in class.  The words leapt from the page and slapped my face.  ‘Read me, read me! You know this!’ they cried.

I bought the book.

DSC_0060

I started reading.

I cried, several times.  I laughed, so loud on the train that people were staring at me.  I did their thinking for them.  ‘Look at that sick weirdo, reading a book about grief and laughing. Tut, tut, tsk tsk.’  I smiled and kept on reading, lost in the words and the feelings once more.

I finished the book today.

I am afraid to write about it.  I am not ready.  I look at Facebook.  I make a cup of hot, sweet tea – writer’s fuel, that is.  I look at Facebook again, mindlessly scrolling up and down, minutes dissolving into the ether of useless information.

I finished the book today.  My blog post is due tomorrow.   I must begin writing.  Just write.

Music will help.  I make a playlist.  I take a photograph of the book for the blog.  Break up the text with pictures.  I capture another image, of the book I have finished on top of the other books I have yet to finish, but would find easier to write about.

DSC_0059

It is 10.47 am and I haven’t eaten a thing.  I grudgingly make brunch, accompanied by yet another cup of tea. I look at the writing table I have set up.  Maybe I should hand write it first I muse, and rummage around for my notebook and pen.  Is everyone’s writing process like this?  Maybe there’s an image for that?  I google ‘the writing process’.

Writers pie chart

Twitter distracts me further.  I throw my phone down on the table in frustration and consider taking a hammer to it.  Instead, I pick up my pen and finally begin to write.

So, here we are.  I finished the book today.

Max Porter artfully uses dark humour in his description of looking out from a maelstrom of grief, setting the scene with a series of detached observations.  I have been a central character in that parade, surrounded by family, close friends, part-time friends, strangers, wannabe friends, and drama-by-proxy addicts, tripping over themselves to dole out advice or share personal experiences that have, frankly, fuck-all to do with anything you are feeling.

Porter shares the circus of it all with stark honesty, harnessing the spaced out feelings of the first few days perfectly. Grieving feels like being ripped out of your own life and plonked on an empty stage in an empty theatre, to star in an absurd play.  The audience float around outside the theatre, whilst the you that everyone sees smiles weakly, nods, croaks thanks.  The unseen, simultaneous roles of you respond quite differently, often with a great deal of swearing and, an occasional punch in the face.

Grief is the Thing with Feathers is a fractured account of shared experiences written from multiple perspectives in a myriad of ways.  The writing style achieves the feeling of making complete sense, whilst making no sense at all.   Crow, our antagonist and hero rolled into one is invited in, yet invades the remains of this family.  Throughout the narrative, Crow hops and darts around the boys and the father, tormenting and saving, hurting and healing.  He pecks at the darkest parts of humanity and is the father, the boys, grief, anger, hope, the past, the future  – a black mirror in which to view ourselves as we truly are.  I found this book easy to read, drinking in all its darkness and light.  Heartfelt honesty and clever imagery paints an emotive masterpiece that is accessible to all, whether you have been cast in the death show or not.  You may finish this book, but it will not be finished with you.

Books end.  Grief does not.  I finished my blog post.

ENDS

DSC_0061