FLASHBACK THURSDAY: BACK WHEN I WAS A VIRGIN

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A writing virgin..

And knew no better than to make cheap, click bait puns. I have no excuses now, I just like doing it. My sense of humour is never going to grow up and wear a suit and to date neither have I. How wrong is it that I am proud of that?

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Anyhoo, to the point.. Its FLASHBACK THURSDAY!!! wait for tape..

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.. and I thought I’d stop raiding the childhood stores and give you a little bit of my very first novel. Actually my third novel, if we include Bobby and the Dinosaur (a fan-fiction style sequel to Bobby and the Dinosaur Egg) and the unnamed three jotter (beautifully covered in the flowery living room wallpaper) epic. Literary no less as it was a study of friendship and betrayal. I think I started off with the intent to write a tale of teenage romance – I seem to remember practising kisses..

But those were both done and dust-binned (though rumour has it my primary one teacher kept my fan-fiction masterpiece) before puberty had finished with me. This is a piece from my first serious attempt at a novel as an adult. Its supposed to be a nice easy reading detective story. I quite like it, and that doesn’t happen very often, but oddly enough the more literary parts, the voice of Harriet was the one I connected with while the more genre-esque detective  parts I struggled with.  If anyone ever tells you genre is easy writing, just give it a try before you believe them.

As for the obvious connection with my favourite writing mantra, I hadn’t joined a writers group, read a writing how-to book or even an article, to my knowledge. If I had come across the phrase I wasn’t aware of it consciously, but I guess that just goes to show how much it resonated with me. Given I am in the middle of writing another piece on it, it seemed particularly relevant, showing as it did my very first tentative brushes with the concept.

She must have painted as a child, in nursery, in primary, but it hadn’t been until her standard grades that she had discovered her voice. Another still life; Mr McClellan had left it set up waiting for them in the art room. Another grey day in the north, another grey task from the grey man. She remembered hating Art, but she hated everything in that prison school.

“Halt!” The woman had cried striding like lightning into their silent boredom. She was what an art teacher should be, fat and bursting with vulgar passion, her voice fruity like Marie, unlike the scuffling sharpness of her old school. “Tear them off. Off!” She had strode round their pads ripping their half- hearted efforts from them, throwing them indignantly to the floor. Some had hurriedly offered them up afraid of her greedy hands, others had enthusiastically started shredding their own. Harriet had shrank backwards.

“The question you must ask yourself: do I have something to say?” She paused in the centre of the room, sweeping over them. Someone put their hand up. “I didn’t ask you to tell me. I want you to show me what you have to say.”

I have nothing Harriet had thought.

The teacher picked up the empty wine bottle, “Is this what you want to say? This says I drink too much because my life is full of plastic fruit.” She flicked the fuzzy apple and it rolled down the tartan cover resting in a small lump on the floor. “You can paint this if this is what you have to say. But I won’t be happy.”

Harriet hadn’t cared back then. She was unhappy, why should this woman be any different?

“Close your eyes. All of you.”

She had obeyed.

“Think about what you would like to say. What do you need to tell the world? What thing lies unsaid and in silence will leave you incomplete? When you know what that is open your eyes, pick up your brush and paint. Until then, don’t. I would rather a blank page than a lie.”

Her last word had wound thoughtfully through the silent room. Harriet had stood eyes closed hearing the substitute’s soft soles walking around them. And it had been peaceful. She didn’t have to do anything. No more pretending to work out the proportions of the bottles narrow neck versus the fat round fruit, worrying about how to separate the grey shadows from the grey air, she could just stand and be nothing. Two minutes later she had opened her eyes and picked up her brush.

Flashback Thursday: Same Old Song

This is a bit of a funny flashback Thursday, as its not an embarrassing peak into my pubescent poetic posturing but an old post from my very first week on WordPress. It almost feels like a cheat but its where my head is at and rather than write what has already been written I figured why not re-post?

If the internet had teeth I’d be headless.. Apparently telling people to write what they like, to trust their own judgement and believing that all styles are valid makes me a dictator.. People. Weird doesn’t cover em..

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COMMENTS FULL…. ARTICLE MISSING?

Buried, lost, drowned under the expected deluge of IMO’s, SMH’s and, of course, the inevitable anger. Anger on its behalf by righteous defenders; anger at its stance, its omissions, its tone and very often, but most bewilderingly, anger at its very existence, indignant that it is taking up valuable space in the infinite recesses of cyber-space. It all too often ends in the chat room brawl- not an intellectual debate, an exchange of thoughts or a chance, in the cool white rooms of the internet, to hear the other side without the blood stirring spit and smug face of your opponent to rouse you. Instead it’s usually around 200 posts of ‘suck this fanboiiiiiiiiieeeeeeeeeee!’ Often I wonder whether anyone would even notice if the article made it to print at all.

I’ll put in right here before anyone starts readying their responsorial fingers, that I believe, and beyond my humble belief there is plenty of evidence, that critical thought is crucial to our advancement as individuals and as a society. I’m just wondering how critical thought descended into suck this fanboiiiiiiiieeeeeeeeeeee. Here’s a question (or ten): how many of you have already started to formulate your response to my ramblings in your heads, not yet two paragraphs in? How many of you started by the time you had read the title? Have you spell checked me? Rearranged my syntax? Ground your teeth at my use of ….. don’t you just hate that? It literally drives me insane. And don’t you hate how literally anything that anyone does these days is done so fucking literally? Does my tone grate, have I missed the most important point- most likely something to do with apostrophes- is your temperature rising, your fingers itching, your mind racing through your ever ready selection of eight-letter put-downs, are you already gone?

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I loved the idea of a comments section when they first started popping up. Finally I could voice my opinion and without fear of growing hoarse, as usually occurred when shouting at Jeremy Kyle. Normally no one listens to me – this might not have changed, but I write in eternal hope. My mother gave it a valiant effort before finally conceding, ‘but you have an opinion on everything.’ She’s never visited a comments section. I haven’t bothered reading Twilight because I dislike sappy romances, I didn’t realise the author suffered from adverb disease. Nor did it ever occur to me that it was singlehandedly sending the feminist movement back to the dark ages. I didn’t know that articles about celebrity cellulite were responsible for the collapse of the moral integrity of the human race, though I am curious about the metaphysical ramifications of how something that no one knew about and no one cared about, could generate 300 odd comments.

I’m not trying to be snide; I’m trying to be genuine, while simultaneously feeling faintly nauseous and deeply apprehensive about how this will be received. As a writer I am often paralysed by those thoughts, constantly asking myself, ‘what do they want?’ The bigger question is now becoming, why bother at all? My contribution or lack thereof may not trouble you, but I may not be the only person asking this. When Stephen Fry considered (for the first time) leaving twitter, citing ‘too much aggression and unkindness around’, his followers showed support by viciously attacking the man who had dared to spit out the vitriolic sentiment that Stephen’s tweets were ‘ a bit boring’. Fry ended up apologising on their behalf to the naysayer, but his relationship with the interpretations of his output remains rocky. I would say understandably IMHO, but opinions can be dangerous.

Deadly as expressing an opinion might be, the greater peril seems to lie in putting out actual work. You know something you crafted, nurtured, laboured on for months, if not years. Imagine what James Joyce after seven years dedicated graft might have thought if he’d read the comments about Ulysees on Amazon (overrated, long winded bore, 83 people were kind enough to tell me). Every artist, good and 83 comments worth of dreadful, has to relinquish control over their work when they publish, yet the degree to which the public latch a hold of everything as though they have the right not only to possess but to destroy, is disturbing. There is no respect or acknowledgment of the effort, the hope, the time invested, merely a sneering note on the misuse of the pluperfect. There is also the sense that with every purchase, some fraction of your soul has been bought. No one warns you beforehand that you are floating yourself on the internet exchange- not unless you read the comments section.

I used to think if my work made one person happy then it was worth putting out there, until I realised that it was equally likely to make ten people very angry. Not neglecting the death threats or worse- bickering with users named PUDSYTAKESITUPTHEARSE in a public domain. I’m sure most of you have been moved by the desire to put something out there, not to feed the wolves, born only to die a brutal death but to simply be: A tiny, shining fragment of what you are. I acknowledge that I’m writing from a deeply personal place, and whatever I say it certainly won’t be perfect. I’m interested in anyone who actually wants to add to a curious thought, but if you aren’t, I would prefer you move on quietly without wiping your feet on my whimsy.

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Flashback Thursday: Oops, I did it .. just the once

Cannot believe I missed Flashback Thursday. Abject and grovelling, knee bruising apologies. There is simply no excuse for having a life on a Thursday.

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On the cuff I’m digging into the obscure but at hand files. This is a poem I wrote for a friend (and I use the term poem loosely). I can no more explain it to you than I could to her. Mostly I think it was because she was a goth. It went on the outside of the very pink envelope (she may think I use the term friend loosely).

Ah the fun we used to have with cellotape, scissors and a rotten sense of humour. Some things the internet can never replace 😀

I want to have the power

Talk to the flowers

Make honey with the bees

Sing with the trees

I have seen paradise

but I have a secret vice

I danced with pink elephants

Wearing the Big man’s pants

Now I must pay the price

cast out from paradise

my advice to you is this

don’t give the postman a kiss

Or you’ll be dancing with pink elephants

wearing the Big Man’s Pants.

Flashback Thursday: Teenage angst

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Age 11 I decided time had come to get serious about this writing lark. Time wasn’t on any of our sides. All writers, as we know, write poems. Despite never having spoken to any writers or even read any poems, apart from the metafictional masterpiece ~ Jabberwocky ~ I set out to master this obscure art form. One I’ll admit I had not much care for – again apart from the metafictional masterpiece ~Jabberwocky~ though now I am wondering if its The Jabberwocky?

By the time I was deep into my teenage years, against my will, poetry and my inner angst had met, connected and were spending most of their time moping about under trees – actually mostly indoors looking out on falling leaves, I grew up in Scotland.

I was never one of those who found misery sexy – you know who you are, just own it… But… there was a teen in my age and a few other, actual reasons to be miserable. Most I will never share, many more I have lost, but here’s one that’s not too humiliating.. (you’d have to see the rest to fully understand that)

Reading this I am fifteen again. Okay, I may have worn some black nail polish once in a while..

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There’s an ordinary girl

Walking down your street

With a bag upon her back

Her shoulders straight

There’s an ordinary girl

She’s lying on your couch

She’s got the hangover blues

Pretending she doesn’t remember

The drunken tales you tell

There’s an ordinary girl

Her numbers in your little black book

Her photo’s laughing on your wall

She’s the friend you know so well

This ordinary girl

Is just like all the rest

She wants to tear the skin from her face

This ordinary girl in her ordinary world

Won’t sleep tonight

For the bees raging in her head

In her ordinary room

On her ordinary desk

She gathers words like harvest

And arranges them

Oh so pretty

This ordinary girl

Is wrapped around an insane core

This ordinary girl

Walking down your street

Isn’t there at all.

 

FLASHBACK THURSDAY: A BLOG IN TIME

Inspired by that instagram thing, #throwback Thursday. Don’t worry there will be no photos. That’s a punishment none of us deserve. I changed the name to Flashback cause I’m a writer, darling, but its essentially the same thing just embarrassing yourself with words rather than hair.

There have definitely been different phases in my writing, trends, fashions, and many of them like balloon skirts (remember them??) are probably only good for humiliating your future children with.

I’m not twelve anymore  – adults can skip and hop 😛 – and while in some ways I think my voice, much like my personality was probably set, if not honed, at a pretty young age, I can’t quite imagine that I would be running a blog with a to do list including a dissertation on Joyce and the division of form and content.  I like to think I’d still defend adverbs. But I’m not sure I’d have the time inbetween all the heart wrenching poetry and tear stained diary entries.

There is a common lament in Scotland that the reason football fairs so poor (tho perhaps why we do so well in darts and snooker) is that most boys turn fifteen and discover beer. And sometimes girls. But really mostly beer. (This is why the birth rate is falling ..) I hit sixteen and my ability to write stories seemed to vanish overnight. Beer had nothing to do with it. The boys drinking it, may have. I never laid my pen down though.  And I thought it would be fun if I shared a little piece of something I wrote way back when on a Thursday..

This was when I was 21, not long broken up with my first love and my best friend had essentially abandoned me.. These were dark days. Newly graduated and very unemployed, I was living on hungry joes, rationing my cigarettes and Fern and Phil were pretty much the highlight.. Then came a party and I had to face them both…

*names have been changed out of deep shame, tho now I’ve done it, I really wish these were their real names..

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I wonder who will turn up to the party. Struan of course. Hamish I suppose. I know Murray won’t be there. Erin said she would be. Lindsey is away, so is Andrew. Morag is going home, Angus might show. Alex and Lachlan more than likely and Mhari and Ewan. Either way it’s going to be weird. I want to sail in there and be above it all. Be above her. Yet I will probably just feel awkward and weird.

The thing about the end of Agnes and me is that I have to give up so many others as a result. Murray and Lachlan and Andrew, but really the only two I ever cared about was Fergus and Struan. It’s a package deal. Want to see Fergus you gotta take Agnes as well. Hell, you have to get through her. And I guess in the end my only real tie to Struan was through him. So I lose the only boy I ever thought I might love.

We were never going to be anyway, me and Struan. I know this, its just sometimes hard to believe it. My heart has a life of its own. I resent that our final parting has been brought about by Agnes.

Life has shifted beneath my feet. I am unsure where this leaves me. In the end no matter what I always seem to be stuck in the same place. Right now, right here, nothing changes for me. The faces of friends may, but I don’t. I haven’t moved anywhere, the scenery is different, that’s all. Still alone, still afraid, still full of big dreams that will never come true. This place isn’t where I want to be at all. For someone who never moves I am still very uneasy where I am.

So I won’t sail into what is rapidly becoming my past and stun them all with my poise and beauty. I will end this as I began, frumpy and defensive, unsure of who I am and what I am worth. Maybe it is for the best. I have long been told by those who really know what she is like that I am better off without her. And as for Struan, a boy who broke my heart for no good reason, isn’t worth holding onto. I don’t feel like I really know him anymore. Its been so long since I last saw him, its like I am holding onto a dream. I live with enough dreams I want love to be real.

Supergirl returns! That’s what Erin once said to me. I have to believe that I will go on to bigger and better things and those who would doubt me aren’t worth bothering about. So I will say goodbye now and next time I see them I will play the same old part and they won’t know I have already passed them by.

oh the drama

😀 Oh and in case you were wondering what my big dreams were, I wasn’t published yet. This troubled me enormously at 21. Can you imagine what its like at 31.. and some months… ehem…  I’m starting to regret this already..

Anyone else brave (daft) enough to share? What would the old you have been blogging about?