Oooooh, I’ve been squirrelling away with the old words this week. Have written so much my fingers ache from impact. I type HARD when I’m in the zone.
I’ve written about Twitter Moments. I’ve written about driving in icy weather. I’ve written about Valentine’s Day. I’ve written about grief-jacking. I’ve written about what I’ve been writing about (and here I am doing it again).
I’ve managed to read too, which has been a gaping hole in my life recently. Wednesday night, I read an hour of The Virgin Suicides, which is a very beautiful book. I came across a definition of zeugma, which is really weird as I’d asked #copywritersunite for that word just the week before. To find not only an example but the very word…strange and lovely.
My favourite way to write is to just start writing. In the same way you don’t plan a conversation, the words just come and I write them down. Usually, I’ll read a thing and before I even start thinking it out, I’ll write it out instead. I debate with myself, live, through words. It gives me a bulk of stuff I can then edit into something good.
Oh, it’s not how you’re told to write. You’re supposed to plan it, aren’t you? You’re supposed to note down your main points, work out a structure and a conclusion. Whereas I usually don’t know what I think until I’ve written it. But hey – you know what? It’s worked pretty well for me over the 16 years since I became aware of how writing for others made me feel.
It was Year 6 of Shottermill Junior School. We had to write a poem about the city. The other children, being typically literal creatures, wrote about tall buildings and busy crowds. I wrote about homeless people and decay, illustrating the poem with a disturbing Microsoft Paint masterpiece. I also invented alliteration that day, which my teacher thought quite something as she hadn’t taught us that yet.
I’m not saying I was a prodigy; I was just fed the right material to make writing like breathing to me. No TV; all the books a child can consume around ballet, Guides and climbing trees; a father who fed imagination with adventure and a mother with oddly religious views about language.
I also had a nasty side to my creativity and a horror of normalcy, probably bred from the bizarre mix of literature I imbibed – Goosebumps, Freud, the SAS Survival Guide. So, that poem made a bit of an impact on my teacher, Jenny Leforte. My grandma has it hanging in her hallway, which is lucky for posterity.
I particularly enjoy the dude in the pimp hat strolling by – the ultimate struggling deviant
I’d discovered the applause that comes from writing down some stuff that just popped into my head. A year later, I was writing poems on the reg, using up the back half of my red English exercise book. I started writing a regular diary. I was given access to the upper school library books and had a short story printed in the school anthology (alongside a curiously steamy Tudor-inspired tale written by a classmate).
I haven’t stopped since. In fact, I’ve come full circle. I’ve started keeping a journal (we’ll call it a journal to maintain my grown-up status) again for the first time in six years. I’m rediscovering the stuff I loved to write before I got paid, before I had peers and watchers.
Writing a journal is a revelation all over again: no audience. It’s quiet and soothing. I’m conscious of building history for myself to look back on, as I’ve done so many times with my diaries between the ages of 10 and 20.
I hopefully won’t cringe and cry at the words I’m writing for myself now. I might grimace a little at my pomposity, but I won’t shrink back from hatred and despair emanating from wrinkled pages. That’s a nice thought.