Worthy

October 25, 2018

A poem, or a blog, or a story about a writing retreat I attended last week, and what happens when I feel sad on my birthday and make myself write.

“Order something different. I don’t want something different.”
He says it several times during the course of the afternoon and each time he says it with a kind of glee, glee which I have created because I wrote the words in question in a writing workshop where we had to write the inner monologue of Callum, a fictional hairdresser in his 30s who has salmon every Sunday brunch and the waitress has started calling it his usual which drives him fucking mad because he may be predictable, yeah, but there’s no need to patronise him. Callum didn’t exist before the start of this workshop and he was created in a five minute spider diagram brainstorm scrawled all over an A4 page and unreadable to anyone except the writer.

That’s Polarbear. Except don’t call him that, because he’ll be mildly embarrassed about the name he chose years ago for his gigging. He doesn’t gig much anymore anyway; he’s much happier creating for school workshops, or writing a novel or an art form he probably hasn’t even considered yet. “Steven” he says “Call me Steven”. So Steven tells us about the time he was in a wardrobe with a girl and we’re not sure if he was really in a wardrobe with a girl or if one of his spider diagram creations was in a wardrobe with a girl but we get that there’s a wardrobe and a person and a story and he asks us about our stories. In mine I was almost outside of the school grounds. Almost in safe, neutral territory and he makes the “almost” squawk. The squawk you make when you’re almost clear and you’re dragged back by the hook of a crook, like a shit comedian being removed from a stage in the Vaudeville era. “Almost!” he exclaims again ten minutes later, apropos of nothing.

And there’s a lot of apropos of nothing here. Some brains move fast and his leaps from holes in socks to Busted to the naming of 25 Neon Tetra on a sleepy Sunday afternoon until we all, one by one, are singled out with an exclamation and we all feel a little more special than we did that morning. “Order something different. I don’t want something different” becomes like a mantra by this point, I read it out twice at his insistence and he keeps coming back to it and back to it and back to the fig tree [which he calls an olive tree but his brain is fast, like I said and if he sped past fig to get to olive, well, what harm?] and back to the neon tetra until they are woven into the fabric of the afternoon as if Arachne had done it: timeless and permanent and no Athena to tear it asunder.

There’s a sickness here. An excited, edge-of-your-seat, butterfly stomach sickness and everyone else must feel it too as these Bristol/Bath/London people are constantly sick. “That’s sick!”, “Sick mate,”, “I can’t believe, that, that’s sick”, “Man that’s sick”, “Sick!”
These people receive. They receive and enthuse and make ooh and aah noise and believe. They believe. We believe in each other.
And we might have had to drive for five hours to get here. We might have to take planes and trains and one automobile where you actually are nearly sick and not “That’s so sick man!” but physically sick and the kindly driver pulls down a back lane [amusingly called Back Lane; you notice this in your light-headed haze] and you regain your sense of stomach.
We might have had vomiting near-misses and some tears and naps and “I should have brought my slippers! Everyone else has slippers!” but we all write. Notebooks from Paperchase right down to Poundland but enthusiasm in spades and clubs and diamonds and hearts. Most of all in hearts.
As we make a start as we each make a part of this weekend-long game of Consequences.

I could go on. And on and on. 3 minute slams aren’t my natural state I’m a long-form princess, mate.
And everyone deserves a shout out.
As we all take off our shoes in the hall, as Adam encourages those who feel small to make themselves big, to get out of his pub,
As Zena tells us to select cards with care and consider and write about what we find there. And contact her later. Her writer friend wants to know what our writer-friend-lover does when she’s running the show.
There’s a group of us huddled round a table nearby while Beth explains what she does and how we can fly with a typewriter and some careful questions which can unlock the gates to our wider perception.
And if we’re quiet at the end of the day, Danny will come up and check we’re okay cos that’s what he does. He raps and he loves. It was all his idea. He deserves this mention as he’s why we’re here.

It’s four days later and I’m crying in my room as I’m desperately lonely and I’ve no-one here to talk to.
I’m not worth anything and I never have been. If other people taught me anything it’s that I shouldn’t be trying.
But there’s a benefit in being productive and so I come on here. Read over what I’ve written and attempt to write a clear
Ending
Tie up these loose threads but my head’s not in the right space
I read though. I read and I find that a week ago
People thought that I had value and those people told me so.
These are the things we all need to write down
Because these are the things that don’t stick around
When your memory plays tricks on you
Which memories are wont to do
So I do this show and tell to show myself, too
Because there’s poetry in my woodwork
I feel it in my skeleton bones
And it’s okay that there’s no-one here
As it comes out when I’m most alone
I’ll write myself a world of parties
I’ll write myself a world of songs
I’ll live and I’ll be
As all the people who ever told me that I had a life worth living…
Can’t be wrong

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