Old Writing

I’m working on old writing, which, like old money, accumulates, only unlike old money the something it accumulates is not value but problems.
Every time I read over an old story, one I set aside on the advice of writing tutors and writing guides, I see more things that make it imperfect, its plot line faint or jumbled, its characters distant or lacking padding. Sometimes, it’s the voice that needs work, sometimes it’s the dialogue, or the underlying Continue reading

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The Impossible Fairytale (Han Yujoo)

I’ve recently spent a lot of time inside a book with a pink and green and obnoxious cover. This isn’t the book’s fault. Nobody really chooses their skin.

The skin was given to the book, as a means of selling it to those passing it by (on shelves, on Instagram squares, on websites, in the hands of strangers on public transport). The way you put clothes on a model, saying, sell it, meaning, sell yourself wearing it. Regardless. I spent a lot of time in this book, maybe because it was slow-going, maybe because I am a slow reader. Maybe both. It’s a book that worships the ‘both’, the way one worships a gun. The violence (though not that of guns) is everywhere in this book: it starts Continue reading

Twenty-Nine

I want so much more than just this sense of relating to life in a once-removed sort of way. I want the plunge, in full; I want to climb a tree, then live in it. I want the scratches of every surface I climb lingering in the skin of my palms. Every breath breathed fully. I think it’s so much easier for people to exist on film, because on film all you see is their bodies doing, their bodies existing, the body from the outside: you don’t see the mind racing, being elsewhere, being absent.

Twenty-Six

The cat dances on the largest leaf of a potted plant. It is a small cat, tiny, hardly bigger than a bumble bee. The cat seems to levitate above the dusty surface of the leaf. The leaf is dusty because the house has not been cleaned in a while, and skin cells keep sloughing off its inhabitants. The inhabitants are watching TV with the sound off in a brightly lit living room. The sound is off so the inhabitants can have a conversations, but they’re all just silent, looking at the people flickering on screen. A man shoots another man through the back of the head. In the room, one of the inhabitants flinches and remembers where he is. He looks around, meets no-one’s eye, and extends a hand towards the table where a glass bowl is filled with nuts. His hand puckers into a kind of beak, like delicate water fowl, and collects a few nuts. The man sinks back into his chair and places the nuts in the palm of his other hand, above his lap in case he spills any. It is a mix: some walnuts, some hazelnuts, which he discards, and some cashews. The hazelnuts return to the bowl in pairs, and the rest are slowly placed into his mouth and chewed into a paste to which more nuts are later added. His teeth are grinding cement. Eventually, he swallows the paste and on screen a man surprises his wife, perhaps, in the shower. Their relationship isn’t clear because the subtitles aren’t reliable and never addressed their marital status. The inhabitants all assume that it doesn’t matter what the naked woman’s official title is, because all we know about her from the way the scene is shot is that she is young, pretty, and that she is played by an actress with an unfortunate contract. The houseplant glimmers in the TV light. The cat is so small the inhabitants cannot see it slide off the dusty leaf of the houseplant and into a watering can at the foot of the pot. Yes: the cat has fallen into the watering can and is seen no more. Presumably, it can swim; but only for so long. It cannot fly, yet there is only one way out of the watering can, and that is through flight. A few hours later, the cat is presumably dead but no-one checks on it because the inhabitants don’t know it’s there. One by one they stretch and yawn and leave the room until the last one, the man who ate the nuts, gets up, stretches for the benefit of no-one in particular, and turns off the last light in the room, the TV.

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[In other news, NaNoWriMo nears its end. Today is the second-to-last day, and I’ve amassed about 43000 words so far, which means I’ve got some serious work ahead of me if I want to reach the required 50ooo by Wednesday night.]