Tuesday, October 23, 2012

seaside gothic

I am somewhere between excitement and fear.  I can’t see where I’m going – anything might be waiting there.  Or worse, nothing.

I can’t see where I’m going, and where I’m going can’t see me.  The end of the pier neither here nor there – lost in thick mist.

there for the taking
so much poetry
in the mist

I should have brought my camera – not that there is much to see.  Crows in the mist and the view to the west slightly clearer than the east.  It kills sound as well as sight, this mist.  But what it leaves of both becomes more vital.  I cling to any sensations still available.  I don’t just hear the waves – I feel them through the structure I stand on.  The footsteps of other people speak to me through the vibrations of the boards.  I am conducting a séance – awaiting knocks and tremors – trying to reach the living rather than the dead.

something certain
the sound of the waves
in this mist

And every time I walk on two crows appear just ahead of me – as if they are here to guide me back inland.  As if they have been spat out of the mist after it has finished devouring the usual white birds.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

writing between the lines

I spend a lot of time thinking about writing even when I’m not.  I picture my hand holding a pen and crawling letter by letter across a blank page.  Forming sentences is my version of counting the rosary – part comfort, part confession.  Writing self-help books say one must believe oneself to be a writer.  And I do – albeit one who doesn’t write much, or as much as I should, or want to.

I’m comforted when I encounter other writers who write about not writing, or the end of their writing, or the things they haven’t written.  There was a great piece by John Barth in a recent Granta magazine – replicated here as a podcast.  And George Steiner’s My Unwritten Books was worth every penny of it’s Poundland price.  It’s comforting to know I’m not the only one. 

There are things that I’d like to write about but likely never will - but still such pleasure to imagine what might happen if I did.

Stories about approaching St Petersburg by boat.  Of  something lost in the middle of the North Sea.  About those strange places where oceans meet seas.  Stories peopled by characters with short common names (like Mark) that have far more going on than you would suspect.  I want to cover vast distances without leaving the house, pepper my landscapes with appropriate trees and introduce ‘marram grass’ like I mean business.  I want to tell the tale of what happens when a milliner meets a collector of rare feathers.