I suppose this is not a usual time for 750 words. But this is after midnight, after the witching hour. It has seemed the most appropriate time for other creations of mine, when I am jerked awake by the shadow in a dream.
I can’t quite say what it was that woke me up. Scientists would probably attribute this to the amount of food I’d had all night, and the amount of water/liquid I had before falling asleep. Part of me wants to believe that, while I was having a bizarre dream, my body wanted me to wake up, so I could go to the bathroom and then sink back into a slumber once more.
Yet there is another side of me that claims I shouldn’t have woken up; to see where the dream would take me, when the furious harpy’s screams in my head would tail off.
Instead, here I am, listening to French jazz at 1a.m. and writing my words. Why am I tied to this? Why am I trapped behind these squiggles of meaning? They don’t really do anything for me, do they? Sure, there’s a ‘therapeutic’ element to creativity, unleashing frustrations and calming the fever in my soul, but then what? What happens when I get to a stage where things become more crucial, more important? What will my words do for me then? Will they mean anything? Or will I just be another socially inept wordsmith? I might not be a smoker or alcoholic now, but what about when things do get difficult?
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not worried about the future. I think I worry more that people are slipping me into categories and I am doing nothing about it. Categories like journalist, broadcaster, reviewer, podcast producer. I enjoy a lot of these things, but I am a human being; I do aspire to be something else too. I crave to be a writer – to type out fiction, non-fiction, biographies – and that is often the title I use for myself, however I think many would disagree with me. I’m not a writer in that sense of the word. Not yet, anyhow.
I’ve been a poet. Well, I was… once. Was published in a few things outside the UK. And yet, since I came here, I’ve struggled to write poetry. Someone claimed that I still am a poet – in so far as I can string words together with poetic lyricism – but I wouldn’t say so. Poets work harder than I do. Poets tell the truth more than I do. Where I try to build a world of carefully crafted fiction (to no avail), a poet cuts straight to the chase. Example? “Tonight I can write the saddest lines”, by Pablo Neruda. It haunts me, even when I’m not thinking about it. It’s beautiful, and simple, and heart-breaking, in so many ways.
I have a theory that it is impossible to lie while writing a poem. Moving poetry, much like falling in love, is about capturing that exact moment of emotion; to me, great poetry is the writing equivalent of taking a picture of a dancer in mid-air: you have to muster all your skill and craftsmanship to get it exactly right. That’s not to say other forms of writing are easier or lesser, by any stretch of the imagination. It can take weeks to pin down certain words, or emotions, depending on inspiration.
What I find I am terrified of the most is repetition, and unoriginality. In order to write almost daily, I end up calling upon similar stimuli every time. They are bound to produce similar ideas, even if I don’t interpret or express them the same way every time. And then comes the risk of being caught in a creative surge of inspiration without being able to finish certain ideas, or thoughts.
Finally, another bone I have to pick with writing is time. While I generally try to keep my keyboard tapping up ideas as much as possible (especially when the boss says they need something ‘yesterday’, so to speak), I find I adore writing at 1 or 2 a.m. Or even 3 a.m. It tends to be times like tonight, when I am either unable to sleep, and hence ready to unload thoughts, or I wake up from a brief snooze, that I work best. The only thing that could distract me at this time is the music I am listening to, or the dryness of my mouth due to lack of water. I will go sort this out now, and hopefully pass out.
In any case, I can see why Hank Moody (David Duchovny’s character from the series Californication) recommends that you first try any other job aside from writing, because “it’s like having homework every day, for the rest of your life”.