Me, Myself and I

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. 

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Off topic

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.

What I know

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.

Sylvia Path’s Mother (or, A Tree in Spring Time)

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

Radiates inspiration.

Experience this

Intensity and 

Let your heart beat

A little faster.

A reminder to myself

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
Celebratory

Drums beat
Voices sing
Loudly

Louder
& louder

Prevent the screaming
From offending

Crimes committed against
Blindfolded girls

Cut to preserve
Cut to control
Cut to stop.

Fragments

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
Fighting to 
Exist

toes cling to cliff
edges and i try
not to breathe

crawl toward the horizon
then rest
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
Hollowed out
Leaving a shell
Waiting to collapse
In on itself

Remaining within the comfort zone

People tend to talk about the comfort zone as something you should be aiming to leave.  I disagree.  Sometimes you need that space.  So in that vein, I have more twitter poetry:

Emergency scribbles
Discover ideas
Recover feelings

Days spent hunting
Dreams in the sea
Poems in a notebook
Acceptance in woodlands

A full time poet

I do have plans to stop stealing other people’s tweets, just not today.  Maybe tomorrow I will feel around the edge of my comfort zone.

Wearing words from others

I am wearing words from others
I am weaving them into myself

An amazingly talented friend of mine @HopeGraceFury frequently inspires me.  She writes beautiful, moving tweets which I used to create this:

Battle warrior
Hero of ancient Greek myth
Epic daily fight
For Utopian dream

Astonishingly jubilant
Soul dead
Brain dead

Spin the coin till
Two sides blur

Handwritten letters
Show all calling points.
Evidence. 

The purpose of this blog is to document my writing, to make it something I do consciously and to keep me grounded.  Writing using other people’s words is a very good way of doing this.  However, alongside this conscious attempt I am struggling with words and phrases passing through me, uninvited.  I’m torn.  This means that I am slowly unlocking the part of me which writes.  But it is happening without my control and that, for me, is very dangerous.  It also defeats the point of doing this.

I see… I feel… I hear…

I saw something somewhere which said write everything that you can see down.  It said it more elegantly but the idea lodged itself somewhere inside of me.  I’ve tried this technique a couple of times and it seems to be a good way for me to stay grounded whilst trying to capture a place.

I split my page into three and write the following, one per third:

I see…

I feel…

I hear…

I then collect words and phrases and leave them for a couple of days.  When I return to them with fresh eyes, it’s much easier to see new ideas and fresh images.  I then start assembling them.

For Denis, who spent many happy days in this park

Breeze rippling over lake.
Ducks callling newborns,
Break the water’s patterns.

Children’s calls grasp at paper,
Snippets of play
Against the twinkly tune.

Leaves dance,
Feet pound,
Keys jangle,
The park’s choreography.

Wistful eyes
Close, and faint
Seaside echoes
Pass through.

Wind whispers storm warnings.
Denis alone keeps watch.