Ways to write a world

I wrote a whole world, once. Then I wrote another. Then another.

What is there to do with these worlds, afterwards? They sort of linger, lolling about in your head.

It’s a funny thing to finish a world; it’s a sudden decision to stop; simply to stop putting down the lifeline of its words or thought pattern. You walk along and hear a character’s voice, remarking on something which has amused him; speaking words which he is certain, by the way, is the kind of thing he’d say; he’s become quite witty – quite worldly, even stuck in that fertile ring of performance you formed with your sentences, that belt you put around him, that supposed perimeter defining him, a sort of spritz put about the sense of him. Continue reading

How to break up with a book (and other stories)

Finding a book you can be happy with is exactly the same as finding a lover.

First, you assume there will be serendipity. You go to all the right places; you see what covers take your fancy. The lighting is all wrong in a supermarket (and you are not swayed by ‘3 for 2’) and it’s hard to read in a club; you hope, then, for recommendation by a mutual friend. Your friends think very hard for you (they are happily committed to their books; they can’t wait to meet the book you eventually decide upon), perhaps even suggest a name or two, but the hope is short lived and your friends find your taste unpredictable.

You sift through memories, then, of all the books you’ve read in the past (some will multiply this number by seven, some will divide; there is a certain pride reserved for those who have taken years to read one single book), and think about what exactly you would like to be different (or the same), this time. Some people slip up here, and re-read previous tomes; this never ends well and if you once were together and then decided to part, each shrinking backward, then warning horns should be blaring; the readerly experience cannot un-yellow in absence alone. That is basic fact. Continue reading

Zephyrs & Value (in a world of paper)

I find it quite interesting (by which I mean annoying) that when I play a piano piece I used to know very well, but which has – through my recent abandon of it – started the gentle cascade towards only semi-memory, it is the old favourite parts that I mis-play, or forget completely. I get to the most beautiful part of a piece; the section I would once have felt my way through with my eyes closed, or while gazing absently at the blue picture frame in front of me (which used to belong to my Grandma and contains a poem about how much more we would value the world if it were small enough to fit in our hands), but this time my fingers freak out and have no idea what to do. Continue reading

An Ode to the Arbitrary Deadline

You are my favourite whim; my grounding line; my comfort and my direction.

May my ship always sail boldly towards you, with hand-written notes-to-self flickering skull-flags at the front.

You have guided me through deep waters and beamed over rocks in the night.

May your power never be mistaken for limp liminality; may your presence always be fondly felt.

May your laugh never falter; may logic dictate you and heart revel in you, but may you raise your eyebrow, gameful, in the face of calendrical chronology. Continue reading

Noting the Self: Vignettes on Many Floors

Maybe an entire life is just an embroidered patchwork – a technicoloured tapestry – rich with scattered notes to self.

First, accessibly, there are the piles on the bedroom floor; the visual to do lists, in 3d art installation. What else can two sealed bottles of rice bran oil mean, but that I intend to make a leave-in hair conditioner quite soon? What is a pile of 573 books by the bed if not a chartered foray into a future mindscape? A single coin, in the centre of the floor; a reminder to go to the bank. Some installations last longer than others, and are relegated to the periphery; placed one day, they are swept away the next. Yet I abhor clutter if the environment is one in which I am meant to be productive, and though a life well lived requires colour, I crave clear space. In reality, this just means things are pushed outwards. The centre stage of the carpet, if nothing else, is clear and capable.

Every thought has an action and reaction, and we are all in constant dialogue with ourselves. Forget Descartes; or at least, let’s modulate him: I am because I have ideas about the future, and think I’ll be in it. Continue reading

On showering; or how I hold the world together

Climbing the grand steps of self-labelling, there are many levels to nudge oneself through (one is both a person leading the horse on a piece of rope, and the horse being urged to proceed through each narrow gate) before one can truly feel comfortable calling oneself ‘a writer’. There is the ‘I’m not really a writer unless I have published my fourth novel and won another prize‘ brigade, and on the other side of the scale there is the horse-before-cart, self-actualising, The Secret-loving, manifestation-willing, glory-expecting camp of those who enthusiastically consider ‘being a writer’ merely to mean ‘sometimes I think about stuff and definitely will write some of it down one day; it’s gonna be good.’ Somewhere in between, there is this trusty landmark: you can’t call yourself any kind of writer until at least one person has asked you where you get your ideas from.

When some people shower in the morning, I imagine they think about the way the water feels, how they need to replace the shampoo soon, or what they’ll have for breakfast. On one level, I’m doing all this too (luxuriating in bergamot and orange homemade body scrubs, etc.; though I definitely have already had breakfast; I wake up starving each morning and have to eat immediately) but on another level, while the water runs over my body, I’m merrily and involuntarily living several other lives in my head like an absolute weirdo. Continue reading