On Writing: A Week of Words


I don’t know where it’s coming from, sang Kate McGarrigle in ‘Kiss and Say Goodbye’, a song about snatched time with an out-of-town married lover, here for a few hours. Her line was about the urge to kiss (him) until (her) mouth gets numb. I’m talking about the words.

There are times when I can barely write a word, when the emotional energy that underpins writing is lacking. And there are times when, to use the word I find most apt, I am fecund, when writing is fluid, fluent and prolific.

But I can’t remember a hot spell like the current one.

What triggered it is unknown. I started last week, off work, in a dull state, exhausted and empty, physically and mentally. It was a waste of opportunity.

But I finished a course of counselling on Monday morning. Wednesday I visited Dukinfield Crematorium, paying my eternal respects to my long-gone Dad, talking to him as I usually do, at first with awkwardness, then with increasing fluency.

Then Thursday was the Eskdale Expedition, and I wrote all day, almost obsessively. Between what became the blogpost for that day, a crucial section of my current novel, and blogposts you haven’t seen yet, I must have written something like six thousand words. And I’ve not stopped since. Any moment in which I wasn’t actually doing anything, my thoughts turned to writing. As I draft this, I;m on a coach to West Kirby to do a Beach Clean. This is already the third different thing I’ve worked on.

I don’t know where it’s coming from. All I do know is that I am now only two scenes, one substantially rough-drafted and one transitional scene, from completing that novel’s First Draft, my first completed work of new extended fiction since 2011. I have five Infinite Jukebox posts to polish and post. I have other articles scheduled. Every dead moment for the past seven days, I have turned to screen or notebook with a buzz in my head, written a line, and, like pressing a button, it has spilled out, until I resent interruption, because every line has a line that just has to follow it, compelled into being.

Like this little piece, which yet furthers my belief that what I write comes not from my consciousness but instead some place out of conscious control or reach, so that I am ultimately a conduit, not a source.

If that’s the case, sobeit. ‘He’s obviously in good nick this past week. Sit back and let it happen. What will be this coach-ride’s fourth piece?

ADDENDUM

And suddenly, later in the afternoon, on our way back, I complete a scene from the novel and it all goes silent in my head. Subject only to juggling the pieces to fit, I have finished the First Draft. And everything is still and it feels weird. I’ve finished a novel again. The drive is done, for now. A different use of my imagination is required now.

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