This post began to write itself a few months ago after a visit to the fish counter at my local supermarket. There wasn’t any progress for months until yesterday’s crisp and sunny Monday morning. Walking to work with the latest episode of This American Life’s, my body found warmth through the sounds, memories and feelings evoked by these stories with the beach as their common denominator. It was time to go back and write on how I feel really about fish…
Written in May 2013:
For the past few weeks, my Wednesday evenings have become a source of newfound inspiration, an outlet for my creativity (and an overdrive for my sweat glands). I decided to attend a short creative writing course in my bid to actually learn about something I have enjoyed doing for so long but have sidelined a little bit. It has been such an enjoying and yet terrifying journey so far and I’m not looking forward to it being over.
For this week’s assignment, our “teacher” tasked us to write about love. This was my most difficult endeavour so far. How do you write about something so personal and so uniquely felt and at the same time so written and spoken of without using a million of cliches? I gave this a go and it went down alright in class I guess. My fellow course mates liked the idea of the Ball so I thought I’d share it on my blog.
A few posts ago, I shared with you my recent experience of taking part in a creative writing class. The term is now over but my adventures are thankfully not. A small group of us has stuck to it, meeting every week (or at least trying to) at the same place and time, and presenting new work.
It’s great to be part of a small community of storytellers; you can see the spark in people’s eyes when they have brought something they feel proud to have created. You can tell how much they value the responses to their work – whether positive or not so much – because of their eagerness to polish that piece of text, to make it into something that others won’t skim through but will stop and examine and consider for themselves. Our conversations take us places we might not have thought of when we set out to write and read, be it imaginary or concrete.
Last week’s project involved perspectives. We set out to find other characters in our previous stories and let them take over the narration. My pheromones ball story was the one I felt had the most potential. Since I shared that one with you, here is how I imagined it told by the other main character (with a few changes, inspired by my comrades’ comments):
…and its consequences are cruel.*
My mood this week has been borderline schizophrenic. This is clearly illustrated by the books I purchased today. One of them is titled An Apology for Idlers by Robert Louis Stevenson and the other one, The Creative Habit by Twyla Tharp.
In the introduction of the latter, Tharp who is a famous choreographer, speaks of hard work and routine in order to harness creativity. The other book has this description on the back cover:
An irresistible invitation to reject the work ethic and enjoy life’s simple pleasures (such as laughing, drinking and lying in the open air).
I wonder which one I should start reading first…..
*John Quincy Adams, American 6th US President
The man is a genius. I absolutely love his work even though it spurred a mini mid-20’s crisis the other day and brought out the emotional drunk side of me that has been dormant for a long time now.
Let me explain.
It started with Black Books. I was watching the episode in which Bernard decides to turn the bookshop into a restaurant for the third time in as many months and I tried to find a clip of it on YouTube. There I was introduced to his stand up material which I proceeded to watch throughout the week. I played ‘Monster’ on repeat and my now favourite skit where he goes on to describe people’s potential as a locked door that should always remain closed:
‘Don’t do it! Stay away from your potential. You’ll mess it up, it’s potential, leave it. Anyway, it’s like your bank balance – you always have a lot less than you think.’
Harmless really. Unless you’re twenty six, you still haven’t figured out what you’re going to do with your life, you’re trying to convince other people to give you the opportunity to write and you still haven’t earned a single cent for anything you have ever published.
Then, it’s still harmless as you laugh at yourself thinking of your potential as that tiny, grey, startling little cat with diarrhoea. Sitting on a matressless iron sprung bed with its huge eyes mewing at you. Smoking as well probably.
Until someone makes a joke about what you write while you’re drinking in the pub, after you’ve consumed half a bottle of vodka (still on the bar tab, thank God) and that door is open and the landlady untangling her pop socks in the corner and the terrible man, the colour of an aubergine, holding his cup of beef tea and wearing a string vest are both looking at you and laughing in your face. Yes, then it stops being harmless for a minute while you look in that room and that cat is still mewing and you’re paralysed thinking you’ll probably end up doing some menial, trivial job and you’ll be telling your kids one day ‘I tried to be a writer when I came to London but then the recession hit and then I had to pay the rent so now I just take numbers from an Excel sheet and I put them into a different Excel sheet for a living and I write half-finished sentences for short stories I’m never going to work on while I go about putting on washes and folding socks.’ All that in a minute that you’re half-smiling and half-crying while you realise you’re in the company of people you don’t really know and they don’t give a shit about your personal drama.
So you manically try to close that door and you smile because vodka is a deceptive drink, because you drink it and you think, What is this? This is pointless! It’s – you can’t taste it, you can’t smell it… Why did we waste our money on this, bloody- why are we on a traffic island?
And it’s that comedy that saves you again and keeps you going because life can be terrifying sometimes but you have to keep going because you’re young and you have the intelligence of raspberry jam, you’re not thinking about anything. And that’s how you regain your calm and you wipe the mascara tear but the joke is not on you because in the end we are all in the same boat:
Go and get a job. Go and find a flat. Find somebody else. Put them in the flat. Make them stay. Get a toaster. Go to work. Get on the bus. Look at your boss. Say, “fuck”. Sit down. Pick up the thing. Go blank. Scream internally. Go home. Listen to the radio. Look at the other person. Think, “WHY? Why did this happen?”. Go to bed. Lie awake! At night! Get up. Feel groggy. Put the things on – your clothes – whatever they’re called. Go out the door, into work – same thing! Same people, again, it’s real, it is happening, to you. Go home again! Sit, Radio, Dinner – mmm, GARDENING, GARDENING, GARDENING, death.
** All excerpts in Italics are Dylan Moran’s quotes, taken from Wikiquote.