This Monday morning I received this link from a blog I follow (Christian Mihai) which confirmed what the weekend just passed had demanded. It is Scott Fitzgerald’s response to a script he had been sent and every aspiring writer should frame and hang it on a wall, and bow to it daily.
My ‘kill or cure’ weekend had hooked my agreement to talk (! Oh God… Talk?) to two groups, one wanting (I thought) breezy entertainment, tailored to the clock for fifteen minutes which would tell a story ( Where does mine begin or end?!) and the other to a deep-time exploring group of close friends that had never included me, for whom I was slotted in after tea which might give me time to drive from Hertfordshire to some ancient Manor near Oxford.
For weeks I had been in a spiraling panic but knowing that if I chickened out, I would never face the world again.Yet since writing ‘THE book’ I had lost all orientation and hardly knew which way was North. Sequencing and retention both evaporated, how to shape a narrative? For the first, (the 5×15 launch of the Fireside Festival) I realised I had to grasp the scorpion, and simply run with a two part story that has part been told in this blog before…The Bride and the Philosopher...and its sequel not yet recounted…The Plumber Peddling Resurrection” in which the deepest trauma underlying the book’s hand upon my collar for the whole of life rested. It involved sex, marital infidelity and the suspension of all disbelief about roughly everything…but the audience came wuth…as they say in my home; Sou’Thefrica.
In the event the story gripped, and overtime was universally demanded to ‘finish the story’.I will probably never be invited back to 5×15 (they do have a few rules and why shouldn’t they ?) but for me the heart I offered was returned unscathed and fuller than before. People trusted are usually trustworthy. I was in danger of forgetting that.
The second talk was much more of deeper and more harrowing truths I myself had not re-visited for years, until faced with this eager and attentive audience. The script prepared was discarded and I simply spoke of what I needed to say. Not to them but to myself. If you are a writer there is no place to hide. Until yesterday I had hidden behind a book.
What happened? When I have absorbed what happened I will return to tell you. Right now it feels like fearlessness, sobriety, calmness and a whole new landscape that rests in trust. Most critically I now know I can do it again, with greater discernment, ease, humour and enjoyment. That’s quite enough to be getting on with, it feels worth sharing.