Monday, 21 January 2013

Blip: The secret life of a writer and other related tales.





I’ve just survived a weekend trapped in an enclosed space with a very dangerous animal and despite the stress and anxiety of potentially being torn apart by a known killer; it did present me with an interesting insight into the world of the elusive ‘Struggling Writer’. This animal is territorial and irritable as well as fascinating in its imitation of an emotionally and psychologically stable human. Pop writes regularly and by ‘regularly’ I mean every free moment of every day; this isn’t exaggerating. Allow me to give you an idea of when she writes:

-Our day starts at 5am, when we begin our daily system of studies, instruments, discussions, research etc.

-On a normal day, we’re done some time between 9am and 10am, when we move on to more general study and activity (which might include whatever university I have for the day or any other errands we need to run), Pop writes from here on.

-This lasts with as much writing as can be fit in before we sleep (5 hours in the late afternoon), then starts up for the rest of the night.

-At this point, everything is geared toward making the rest of the night as suitable a situation for writing as possible from perhaps 9pm until 5am the next morning when the cycle starts again.

-On Saturdays we are freer from the obligations of the week, so we make a larger effort towards our maintenance of the flat and the furtherance of our studies, on the whole, there is more time in the morning and at night to write.
-Sundays are our game days, on which we play console games and watch films, which means all morning (often starting Saturday night or even Saturday afternoon if we’re efficient enough) all the way through Sunday evening and night.

-These are the regular times that writing occurs. Like any good addiction, though, there are also other times, more deceptive ones. When I go to university, Pop will come with me and write somewhere there or she will stay back and write at home.

-If there is either a problem or a boon in her productivity, more time is to be assigned to the production of literary fiction.

Many writers talk about having a study or some location they feel comfortable that is the only place (or the best place) they can write. Many say the same about certain times of the day. I’ve heard well-renown authors talk about giving themselves 3 hours to write in the middle of every day, in the same place and at the same time. Sometimes it is even made out to be a chore. Not so with Pop. She loves writing; it is the most important thing to her life and her sanity, which certainly ties into the origin of this weekend. 

Pop likes to be comfortable when she’s working (as it can be called) and likes to have a degree of stability. This is true of many creative people and creative processes: A common theme in the environment allows for a stable thought stream. However, in Pop’s case, as with others, she has no specific time or place that is needed; only consistency is needed to maintain her concentration and pace.

Now we come to the reason for the epithet ‘Struggling Writer’; the life of a writer is utterly fascinating. Everything in her mind is connected with writing; everything is funnelled straight into the pool of experiences that act as her resource library for literature. The concentration and focus that this amount of writing and effort into writing can take is immense, which, rather naturally, leads to there being significant ups and downs. These generally come in the form of fluctuating efficiency levels. A writing block can occur, which is an awkward problem not to be ignored. But a stranger and perhaps more common problem, is the very opposite: If an unformed idea has been swimming around and finally crystallises just how it should do, it warrants being written down in full. This takes precedence over anything else that’s happening because it is very disruptive on the mental state of the writer. Even our studies have to be clipped to make time to get the thought out.

It can be as small as a troublesome sentence that has been plaguing the work or as big (as it has been in one case) as an entire book. After ideas and influences had made a semblance of a narrative, an idea had to be scrapped and it didn’t come together until over a year later when, mixed with further experiences in that gap of time as well as being merged with some other already formed ideas, it fell into place like a well-aimed 4-block straight line tetrimino. This idea had to be formed and it turned into an entire first draft of a novel that ended up taking priority over a great number of days.

This weekend was another such time. Some idea or other came together and required the devotion of a weekend to straighten itself out, so that’s what we did. People with a creative interest in something may well know what I’m talking about. The situation that led to the breakthrough must be indefinitely maintained until the thought is completed. It bears resemblance to pre-match routines of athletes and competitional sports players, or their tendency to attach themselves to lucky socks or underwear. The environment that, whether actually relevant or not, led to the creative movement must be held onto with the persistence of a starving man grasping a Tesco Brand horse burger.

In the case of the weekend of fun I just endured, this meant playing Skyrim continuously with just the one album of Pulp playing almost constantly. Pop didn’t notice the music much, it just faded into the atmosphere as her mind and her pen tried to set fire to the air in front of her. Nor did she notice the glares she threw at me whenever her attention was forced or coerced, in any way, to anything other than her writing. This includes feeding times, cleaning out the enclosure and sleep. I, however, did notice the same songs being played for the hundredth time, the icy disposition that developed almost instantly towards me and the ability I had suddenly received to produce in Pop instant bouts of anger. I also perceived the tension in the room that was so thick; a butter knife just wouldn’t do the job. Pop didn’t, of course. She was as happy as Larry (whoever that unnaturally happy guy is); she was content with her rapid pen movements, her mostly uninterrupted concentration and her vociferous consumption of ink and paper pads. She wasn’t even angry in the common sense of the word. Rather, she was in her own world, just like a dream, and, also like a dream, she had no desire to free herself from it. She had even less of a desire to be relieved of this state by someone else.

This situation has, in the most technical of ways, resolved itself now. There are still the almost schizophrenic twitches of a Pop possessed by the inner demons of excessive literary production. The lesser known of Dante’s demons perhaps but demons nonetheless. This instant I can see the flickering light in her eyes as full stability and normality restores itself. Within a matter of hours, she will have returned and, shocked by her ignorance of the past few days, will notice an awe-inspiring pile of filled pages of lined paper that have been the sole offspring of this rather interesting venture.

Plenty could read this and cry, in their harsh internet tones, ‘First world problems!’, ‘children dying in Africa’ and all that good stuff but I would remind them of my privileged circumstance. (For I don’t believe in any inherent rights afforded to humans just as I don’t believe that any immediate rights are granted to a mosquito upon its conception or an ever-spreading colony of streptococcus living from the ripe innards of a life-giving orange). I do believe in acknowledging privileges though. Not in any way that I have privileges that elevate me above anyone else, only that circumstances around my current position afford me interests and luxuries that other people do not have, any human can say the same. Even the poor, dying people of the poorest, failing countries have multitudes of experiences that are denied to me. That isn’t unfair, it is just the uneven spread of circumstance that governs our subjective potential to experience different elements of life. My privilege to witness a working writer in her day-to-day nutbuttery and my privilege to be the one to foot the bill for the vats of ink and forests of paper she consumes to attempt to note down every thought that runs through her adorable, yet mad mind. But that’s for another blog post.

My current position affords me a computer connected to the internet and hands with which to type connected to a brain with which to think. Thus as a human filled with the same degree of self-obsession and overriding concern about the almighty self as everyone else and as a person prone to the same bouts of ego massage sessions that border on being masturbatory, I implore you to discover the simple pleasures of admitting your own conceit and indulging in complaining about whatever makes you happy to complain about. I also whole-heartedly, with the very core of my bloggy being, tell you dissenters, from the depths of the withered, black creature shifting and shivering within my chest that, by all accounts, should be my compassionate heart, to fuck the fuck off and stop your damn complaining. Unless it makes you happy to do so.

In which case, go right ahead. 

*I wanna sleep with common people, like you* Oh god damn it. 

Blip 

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