Shared Ownership

This rewrite I’ll break the back of, at the cost of thousands of words of the old version of the book. Probably about 40,000 words. They weren’t, or aren’t, bad words. It’s not their fault, but they don’t work together, not as a whole. The great white whale of the novel is being gutted, with the blubber cut away.

Some of the waste words I’ll put up on this blog now and then, so that they have some kind of after-life. Maybe they’ll turn into stories of their own, part-buy, part-rent. Part old, part new. Part lost part found. And still not enough in the bank.

 

Here are a few of them:

It’d been at least twenty years since the last time I’d seen Aunty Maggie and dad’s funeral.

I picture her by the graveside, her dyed-red hair pulled back into a ponytail so hard it lifted up her eyebrows. I spotted her between the bounces of light reflecting from my Nigerian aunties’ lip gloss; I caught sight of her between their Hayes head-dresses; Aunty Maggie’s brown eyes set into a face drawn with lack of sleep and a lot of eyeliner. Her lips disappeared into her mouth. Her black cotton blouse still carried its shop creases. Her black skirt was pulling itself apart at its seams. Her legs ending in patent black high heels.

I could smell overturned earth. I could hear traffic going by behind the cemetery’s trees and wooden fence.

Maggie accepted my other relatives’ remembrances of my dad while she destroyed an order of service between two wrung hands.

 

<<SOUND ON>>

 

Discreet Music

Brian Eno is good to write to. I spent a lot of the year so far being scared of the re-write of Patience’s narrative. A new job has given me back some of the space in my mind, and a new perspective. The story I’m writing is now more complicated, but it’s also more human now, and more honest.

I set myself a task in the July Camp Nanowrimo: to write 30,000 words this month. I think I’ll mange 25,000 which is okay.

 

I’m not terrified anymore. I feel strong. The dark days of 2016 are receding with each new news story: not because they’re positive stories, but because I can feel something else behind them. A feeling that we’re going to get to the other side. Better days are coming.

 

Louis Wain Kaleidoscope cat

Take a breath, 2017.

Between watching video clips online of Barak Obama and Joe Biden, and crying a little bit as a result, I’ve been thinking about What Next for my own Stuff.

Last year, the infamous 2016, I became even worse at my work-life-other things balancing conundrum. But: I had some really nice feedback from a few literary agents about the Patience and Bridget book. I think I have figured out, finally, what Patience’s character arc is. Her story’s always been more word heavy than Bridget’s but more directionless. I was too nervous to go too deep into her story, maybe. Anyway. Time to fix it, armed with a print out of just her narrative, my laptop and my notebook.

 

2017, let’s go.

 

P.s. before 2016 is never mentioned again, here’s the animation that an amazing artist made from the-hobby‘s drawings:

The comic book that these drawings are taken from is available at Orbital Comics, London and online via Stars Dots and the New Junk.

 

P.p.s. Performing a remembering of a memory live as part of Forest Fringe‘s residency at Somerset House last year helped me to reset myself. Beautiful artists doing beautiful things and nice people being nice.

 

Nice pipes Tamika

The book I’m writing (very slowly as it is becoming quite personal) now has snuck its way into the first person plural. I loved Eugenides’ Virgin Suicides written in the ‘we’ and ‘us’ voice but I dunno if I’ll be able to pull it off.

My work practice is sneaking into my writing too. I’m writing and talking a lot about movement, memory, the performed and the moment of disappearance in the live. D and I made a kind of comic book ages ago together: kind of to try out the Cage/Cunningham model of creating something in different but related art-forms without the art-forms being subject to one another… so for Cage/Cunningham the choreography and the music were on equal ground. Neither one were in the ascendant to the other. So with the book/pamphlet/artist leaflet that D and I made. It’s since turned into something a little more concrete now tho. Stars Dots and the New Junk contributed a CD to go with it and it’ll be sold in Orbital comic book shop in Soho, London til the limited run we made is all gone. I shan’t tell you what it’s called though, as my involvement was always supposed to be a mute form of writing seen from the corner of your eye. The original object was meant to be anonymous and left around to be picked up by strangers, so if possible maybe it can still have some of that despite its 15 minutes of fame this evening at the music launch.

cool poster

Let me know if you think the first person plural is going to be a really bad idea.

If you’re going to be up North, then go to this exhibition. I had something to do with it. Despite that, it is very good.

Writing seems to be urgent now. What else can I do but document.

Sundays

Time seems to move so slowly on Sundays, and at the same time it has that urgency, that sense that Monday is about to happen and that this laziness will not stand. So when you’re hungover, like I am now, with a work-writing and self-writing to do list as long as it ever is that’s when the self recrimination really sticks in your ribs. Coulda woulda shoulda.

 

I know I’ll get it all done, eventually, but it’ll be painful. The new book is in omniscient third person, with four characters followed in focus and connective tissue of their interactions with each other. So that’s five narratives to write, sort of. I’ve done one and a half. The half is part of the connective tissue narrative. The next one I’m writing is actually a first person voice via her blog. You can read it on Medium if you want to.

I wrote an academic article, that needs a lot of revision, gak.

I’m writing an online exhibition, gak.

And some other stuff needs editing. I am going to overhaul Patience and Bridget’s story – mainly P’s part.

Rolls up sleeves.

Goes back to bed.

What I’m learning

My work life is tsunami at the moment. It’s fun, though. I went to Atlanta, Georgia, to talk about the dance archive at a conference held at Coca Cola. All of the drinks there were Coca Cola brand. There were vending machines in every doorway and corridor. You didn’t need to put any money in them. You could get fizzy drinks from all over the world (made by Coke). All of the attendees were buzzing with sugar/ caffeine/ aspartame/ secret ingredients. I went on my own. The furthest I’ve been alone. I took a book with me (well I took a couple) – Tom Wolfe’s A Man in Full. It’s set in Atlanta so I thought it could be my travel companion.

What an amazing book. I should say tome. It is pretty hefty. I finished it in Austria weeks later when my boyfriend and I stayed in a techo-condo which had its own lawnmower robot. Oh airbnb.

A Man in Full was perhaps the best guide to Atlanta I could’ve read. I went to the streets, neighbourhoods and galleries Wolfe described. I saw class structures where I would’ve just seen wood or brick. I mean, the book setting is out of date now, but still. It’s been a while since I’ve read a book with such a wide scope of characters, plot-lines, historical, political and geographical depth. The book was more than words on pages. It was in 3 dimensions, 4, 5…

I’ve been writing these little stories, these highly intimate narratives, getting really deep into the minds of my characters. I think I need to take a page from Wolfe’s book (-_o) and learn to put my head above the water, to swim across the waves so that my books and stories can have more narrative depth. After all the times we’re in now are such unsettlingly rich gifts for writers: 2016 is a horrible year for deaths, politics, climate change and social equality.

Can we make better please? Artists? Humans?

Progress notes
Edit #5.3 of book one;
15,000 words of book two;
three stories out in the ether;
idea for a screenplay nibbling at the back of my mind.

Tentacles

You know that feeling when you have worked on a story so much that it is now lifeless, and you think, ‘Did it ever live?’. It’s like, it’s like, it’s like when a fisherman pulls an octopus out of the crystal Mediterranean and takes it to shore and beats it on a rock until it’s dead and what was jewel-like in the water is now jelly on land and what was beauty is now death and what had potential is just wet and slimy flesh grey on grey rock.

But maybe it can be salvaged.

It doesn’t have to be dead.

 

Continue reading

Asking

It’s an ‘Ask’. It’s what you write so that someone says ‘Yes.’

Proposals I’ve written in my dance heritage job sometimes don’t have a strong enough ask, or clear enough. They don’t help someone see why they should care, never mind give money or other kinds of support. It’s a skill to figure out what sort of Ask leads to getting what you need. I’ve been improving. Sometimes the swell of support has even breached its banks and I flip like fish unrivered until I get my regain my bearings.

What inspires a bound from No to Yes?

This week gone I’ve had to think of different ways to ask for a work trip abroad, to write a job description and, most difficult of all, I’ve had to think of a way to ask an agent whose client list I adore, ‘Will you read my work? Will you please?’

I went to the 2016 Curtis Brown and Conville and Walsh Discovery Day at Foyles, first page of Outrigger curled in my bag and a 30 second pitch memorised. Amelie* and I had the same time slot. We met first for lunch to calm ourselves down. We talked about work, about career moves, about trying to live in London when you’re not an oligarch. Becalmed we went to Foyles. Too calm. We were convinced that we were early when in fact we were about to be late, oops.

Foyles is a beautiful bookstore. We queued in its well dazzled by books. I was holding it together. Then I was shown to my agent, turns out she is my dream agent, ahhahaha yikes. And she asks me to pitch my book and my memory slips away, and I somehow reel it back and I am floundering but she likes my page and she says, ‘Send it to me.’

I can’t ask for more than this.

 

*(superstar writer you’ll read a lot about one day)

 

Blackstar, star star.

He was our Pierrot. So that we could be brave, and look into the sky at night and be in love with its immensity. We could love the moon and be in ourselves artists of any sort, and be free to be made fun of, and not to be scared to show ourselves as we are inside, full of yearning and colour and sadness and love.

To be close to something beautiful that we can’t explain. To have a place in the world, or the universe, or the fabric of things from the muck as much to the air.

To have grown up listening for the intake of breath on the track as the needle hits the vinyl.

To have had that.

The knowledge that there are others, that it might be possible.

The bravery of the maker of miniatures, who ‘understood that he had travelled a long way from the early days, that he still had far to go, and that, from now on, his life would be difficult and without forgiveness’ and who still carried on because creation what he wanted to do and it was worth it.

To leave with dignity and to leave us with the invitation that he’d given us from the start, you must create (if you want).

2016: Ima let me finish

Hello everyone. Happy new year to you all, peace and long life, health prosperity and joy.

I began this blog in 2011 when I moved to London in order to start concentrating on my writing. It’s been amazing, and a big help in focussing me, making me brave enough to share my writing exercises and in generating stories that I can use to submit to places.

Now I’m ready to move on to whatever is next for my writing development. I don’t know what that is but it isn’t this blog in the format I’ve been following so far… Maybe a podcast! Or a youtube channel! Or a collective! Or maybe even just getting things published by other people in traditional ways.

I’ll keep updating my ‘other stories‘ and ‘other non fiction‘ pages. If you’re interested in following me more actively you can find me on twitter, or join my mailing list.

2015-03-12 22.51.50

Thanks for all of your support and comments. Totes awesome, peace out, mic drop.