… and lots more time to think

March 21, 2011

Writing is a thorny beast. Quite a few years ago now, I’d just finished studying, and moved into a house with the express intention of “writing”. Needless to say, it didn’t really work out that way. Jacob (whose house it was) eventually complained that I’d worn out the chair that I’d been sitting in all those months, and all I had from it was a stack of bad poetry and a load of empty bottles of wine. And Pig Heart Boy, which I can’t even remember writing, but I’m glad I did.

It’s funny what you make time for. Stephen King reckons the reason he ended up becoming a drug addict was because “you can only really write for 2 hours a day”.  Recently, most of the things I’ve written have been scratched out frantically over a quick pint in my lunch hour as I try to find some time to write something down. I’ve never really been of the opinion that you need to spend a lot of time on a piece of writing, honing it, cutting out bits, making it perfect. It’s rare that I’ll return to something at all, unless there’s a really terrible line, or something that repeats something else, or minor grammatical changes. There’s a lot of false starts, pieces that have delightful beginnings but will probably never end up being anything else. I guess this is always the case. But mostly, there’s a heap of things that got started (or just plain finished) and weren’t very good.

And of course I won’t write anything that’s more than about five or six pages long anyway, because I don’t have the attention span. That’s why poetry suits me fine. But still it’s a case of finding the time. Without complaining too much (but complain I shall), working full time can really cramp my chances of getting anything done. To be fair, when I was working part time, I still spent a lot of my days off lying on my face reading trashy thrillers about Nazi sharks. But it’s nice to have the option. It’s hard to get many exciting things done when you spend a massive amount of your awake-time sitting in an office, even if you’re keen on procrastination.

Collaboration is pretty important as well, I think, although really hard to come by. When I was young, me and Nick (my brother) used to sketch out elaborate and radical plots, which I’d then turn into screenplays (well, a couple – they’re a bit too littered with in-jokes to ever really make the silver screen). And for the last three years or so, me and Amy have written all sorts of things together, epic Lynchian melodramas notwithstanding – it’s just nice to have someone else to sketch out the plot with. Actually physically writing with someone else is darn near impossible – and on that note, I’ve never really written anything for anyone else to perform (although I’m quite happy performing other people’s stuff, as long as it’s not rubbish or filthy…). I also really like doing the thing when you’ve got one microphone off the stage switched on and one microphone on the stage switched off and you do each others voices.

But now Amy’s blown town as well, so I’m pretty much on my own, writing-wise – which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but it does mean that ‘things are going to change around here’. Which is partly why I’m trying to take up blogging again, but also try and get my act together, work less, write more, and maybe get on Radio 4. I’ll keep you posted.

EDIT: I can’t work out a way of phrasing this in an even vaguely articulate manner. Such, I guess, is the nature of writing about writing, or rather “bloody poetry about bloody poetry”. I’m trying to write something about inspiration at the moment as well and that’s gone in a very unpredictable and chaotic direction, so I guess this is the prosaic counteraction of that. Shall make it up to you. Promise.

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