I’ve started an online creative writing course. We’re very much at the introduction/beginning stage and the first assignment was to write 100 words as an introduction/writer profile. The second was to choose an everyday, mundane item and describe it. I’ve included mine below and would welcome feedback. That’s one of the things that I think is important to me with the course. I’ve never really had any criticism on my writing so I’m hoping it will be useful.
Me, myself and I
Helen has been inseparable from books since before she could walk or talk. Quickly, she began to write herself. Writing which ranged from poems to stories to newspapers for which she interviewed friends and family. This love of words and expression continued until her early twenties when the pressures and time commitments of being an adult took over. It was about this time that she started to suffer from chronic pain and, as a way of coping with this, has recently found her way back to writing.
Look around you
Smudges and faded writing cover off-white surfaces, surfaces the colour of a well-loved teddy bear. Obviously once a cuboid, it’s ends are now rounded and on the top there’s a nail mark, a barely visible crescent moon.
It’s light to hold. It doesn’t take up much space in my child sized fist. It feels solid until my hand closes on it and it gives slightly under the pressure. You think it’s smooth until you run your finger a little harder on it’s edges and then small fragments of the whole rub off.
It makes a gentle sound when tapped; absorbing many of the sounds waves itself.
It smells faintly of classrooms and learning to write your letters and spell long words like because.
I don’t think I’d want to taste it.
edited to add: trigger warnings. Of you don’t feel safe, head to google and look at pictures of kittens
I don’t know if anyone will read this. I’m not posting a link on twitter. I put the title as ‘Off Topic’ but I guess in some ways it’s perfectly on topic. I know that there are things I need to say but I struggle to find the words. I struggle to unlock the words. I know I need help but I don’t know that I can actually handle being given help. It fact I’m fairly certain that if anyone tried to help me I would shrug them off or collapse in a heap. Neither being much fun for anyone.
I cope with pain and depression by numbing myself. I always have. I self harm and I develop a really unhealthy relationship with food and weight. If I am well, I really don’t care about weight and calories. I never care about them in relation to other people. If I am numbing myself, I care about them obsessively. It’s not about body image. It’s about control. It’s about making myself feel as small as I can because I don’t feel like I have any right to take up space in this world. It’s about having a focus, something to centre your life around so you don’t feel the pain any more. The thing you can think about when your own thoughts hurt too much. I want to shrink away to nothing. I don’t want to kill myself. But neither do I want to be here.
I don’t feel any connection between my body and my mind (I do literally, except if I’m dissociating but that’s another issue). It’s like they belong to two different people. I can’t comprehend that I am damaging myself with my actions. I know there are risks with self harm and starvation. I know that. But I can’t get my head round them in relation to myself.
For something that’s fundamentally about control, I feel a bit out of control right now. Self harm I can manage. I, for want of a better phrase, know what I’m doing and do everything reasonably safely. Restricting is another matter. I’ve never been this bad before. I went 48 hours without food. The sensible voice in my head knows that was stupid and dangerous. The other voice wants to do it again, wants to do it better. The sensible voice is why I am writing this. The other voice is why I’m not posting a link on twitter or talking to anyone. This voice will probably have deleted the post by morning.
Today’s very exciting (mostly because it’s been so long and I thought any creative part of me had turned to stone) writing was inspired/motivated by a short, free Open University course called Writing what you know. It basically does what it says and helps you to look at ways to write what you know. It’s not overly detailed but it’s worth a quick look if you have a spare hour or so and are looking to spark something creative. The following is very very much a work in progress but I was pleased to have written something and I despite being exhausted I know I won’t sleep easily tonight. Hence the late night blogpost.
I know that inside
Skin, blood gushes like oil.
Dark shadows hide secrets
I know that torture
Wounds, releasing scalding lava.
The body spills stories.
I know that rushing
Relief, peacefully painfully draining.
Slaughterhouse queue carries on.
Constructive criticism would be helpful please.
I was reminded recently of acrostic poems. I had flashbacks to a classroom in my village primary school writing poems about autumn on orange paper. It filled me with a kind of dread. But it’s a useful tool for playing with words.
I was watching A Poet’s Guide to Britain about Sylvia Plath. And then there was a clip with her mother, who’s name was Aurelia. It seemed like a very pleasing combination of letters so I wrote it down the left hand side of the paper and then added some words. My aim was to keep hold of this moment of inspiration and so I scribbled very quickly without too much thought so the results are rather rough. Unfortunately in my haste, I did mis-spell her name… But the point for me isn’t the word down the side, it’s the letters which give you a starting point. That, and the fact I actually paused iplayer and got off the sofa to do something creative.
A Tree in Spring Time
Apple white blossom
Under intoxicating life
Let your heart beat
A little faster.
One of the links I’ve had on my ‘to read’ list was How To Read A Poem (part of a series) and is well worth a look at, or at least worth adding to your ‘to read’ list! The website looks like it has lots of interesting things on but there was a particular article which caught my eye. It details three ways of creating poems from others’ words and links to a blog post with a lovely couple of examples of found poetry.
This post is mostly a reminder to myself to revisit these links.
i’m trying the ‘stealing things from twitter’ approach with newspapers. So Sunday morning saw me looking at the Guardian from the day before with a pen in hand, picking out interesting articles and selecting words and phrases to add to my notebook. Then at a later date, with fresh eyes, I went back and tried to write. I seem to be getting better at editing. I wrote last night, tweaked it a bit at the time. I went back to my notebook to type it up and amended it. And I edited it as I typed it up. It’s interesting (and hopefully positive) as when I used to write I would very very rarely edit. The words would be written and that was that.
The following is from ‘The battle to eliminate FGM is long, but it’s one we must win‘.
Smiling and dancing
Prevent the screaming
Crimes committed against
Cut to preserve
Cut to control
Cut to stop.
For the past few weeks I have been writing down fragments of poetry. Hopefully I will revisit them at a later day and make them whole. These are my own words, not words stolen from others. I’m hoping that by putting them here, they will have a place to rest until I can do something with them. The alternative is that they will haunt me until they are complete.
At risk of flight
I clip my wings
Wearing words from others
Weaving them into myself
Mind spinning circles
Round a body
toes cling to cliff
edges and i try
not to breathe
crawl toward the horizon
in the vanishing point
The gate keeper of thoughts
Has left his post unattended
Rogue voices creep in
If I write the script
Will you play your part
& speak the words
I need to hear
Her soul has been
Leaving a shell
Waiting to collapse
In on itself