My body is rebelling against me; it is screaming, “Be kind!” Years of self-destructiveness have affected my physical health, I have chosen the life of the mind above the call of somatic well-being. Those of us who watched The Rolling Stones’ set at Glastonbury, will be only too aware of how lifestyle “choices” are reflected in the faces that we wear. Last Saturday night I saw the walking dead perform and it was not pretty. However, evidence that they are still alive suggests that someone is on their side. Power to them, I do not think I shall be so lucky.
In the heat of my psyche, the will to write and bipolar disorder unite and battle for supremacy. On days when I do not write, I prickle with agitation. When I write, my mind focuses with such intensity upon the object of my will, that afterwards, I feel drained to the point of sleep. The adrenaline I produce in the act of writing lingers long after I have finished and thus, I become subject to the contradictory desires of sleep and activity. Generally, these feelings pass, leaving me tired, but contented that I have fulfilled my drive to create. When they fail to subside, I reluctantly resort to a dose of “Mother’s little helper,” and curse my own weakness, until I fall into a medicated sleep. When I awaken, I thank heaven that I am still alive, turn-on my laptop and write.
I have finally resumed writing my new novel. Days spent without ink are days of inner torment. I am driven by an urge to create and a contradictory urge to be idle. However, when idle, the writer within nags and scolds me between my ears, like a voice echoing its distaste for a piece of human waste who simply cannot be bovvered. Today, I have not been idle and my insides are smiling, again. Sometimes, one simply has to hit the keys and move on.
Writing is not as easy as some people think; it requires not only a seed of inspiration, but a mind-set of discipline, which few can master. Why sit inside behind the mask of a laptop, when there is a world outside, populated by people consuming one another’s subjectivity, like flesh cream cake? Why? Because I have to. If I did not write, I would be in bed making love to my disease. Writing keeps me alive; it fulfils my dreams.
There is a fear which haunts all writers and that fear is loss of inspiration. We all experience dry periods in which words, ideas and the construction of plots elude us; our waking hours punctuated by non-productivity and night time by the sweat of non-fulfilment. Over the last few days, I been firing blanks of concepts, refusing to build into a seed of a form embracing a composition, deserving to be heard. I am tired. However, I need to write. Please forgive my stream of consciousness style.
Two days ago I returned from my holiday in Malta. When abroad, I would like to have experienced a touch of the culture of the country I have visited. Unfortunately, on this holiday I learned more about British culture than that of Malta. Initially, piqued by the attitude and demeanour of the non-British staff at hotel where we stayed, as the week evolved I realised that they had been stereotyping us based on their experience of other British holiday makers. I felt embarrassed by the behaviour of my fellow Brits and doubly embarrassed by my own embarrassment. These were people, similar in social and economic background to many of the people who had populated by younger life. I felt not comradeship for these, my working class brothers and sisters but, frustration. Uncomfortable in my own skin, I had behaved exactly as the hotel staff had towards the other British holiday makers, I had stereotyped them. In this instance, as the kind of working class people who would stand not with defiant fists clenched at the boundaries of a picket line but, would push aside honourable strikers and lay with management. When I heard voices raised, from the “English style,” pub next to the hotel, in a chorus of, “There’ll always be an England,” I knew not whether to smile or frown. Stereotyping is reductive and objectionable. We all do it.
I learned a few days ago via The NewYorkerTimes on twitter that pop laureate of the welfare generation, Morrissey had cancelled his U.S. tour. Subject to bouts of ill health, he had been denied insurance to continue his onstage performances. It is not without irony that a music icon famed for his vegetarianism and anti-drug stance is confronting a physical demise, when other musicians, like the Rolling Stones, who have embraced a more traditional rock ‘n’ roll lifestyle, are blossoming, even, into old age!
Before becoming immersed in the works of Woolf and Joyce, I discovered the lyrics of Morrissey and a human truth; that the pen is a sharper tool than the knife. In the Thatcherite 1980’s, when British popular culture was ruled by the escapism of the new romantics and the ideology of greed, Morrissey represented an attractive “other.” He was an anti-hero, whose counter-cultural credentials reached beyond his sartorial inelegance to the cultural references presented in his lyrics and “The Smiths” record covers. Like his shirt, his image did not quite fit. I was a teenage outsider with only my imagination and a record player for friends and, when I heard Morrissey sing I felt less alone.
I saw Morrissey perform in 1991 and although it was not a classic performance, the image of him trying to sing whilst drenched in the bodies of boy fans eager to touch genius, will always remain for me a definitive statement about the life I lived at that point; a symbol of willowy beauty destined to fade. Get well soon, Morrissey and I shall watch you perform again, zimmer-frames ready!
Let me tell you a story.
A few months ago, I was up in the night. Sitting on my sofa, with a coffee for company, inspiration flashed into my consciousness with the acuity of an indelible moment of insight. Awakened from my slumber, I accepted inspiration as a friend and let her reveal the nature of her sweet delights; a plot for a novel, linear and clever, based around a central thematic. Ideas, like moving images, projected into my mind. In nature, they were almost filmic and within minutes I wrote notes about their content. Remaining, when I had completed my notes, was the outline of a story which, I believed, demanded to be written. It was not any, old story, but a story to be read by children. Children! I am a childless writer of grown-up fiction. I would have to adapt to the shifting tide of my own imagination!