Writing the impossible


Many challenges face the writer. Getting a good agent and getting published aside, the workaday process of writing a story logically begins with the idea for the tale. Thereafter it’s viewpoint: is the story told in the first, second, third, or other person? Next, tense: present or past. The setting; the time period. Then follows researching, writing, usually to a prescribed word count, re-drafting and submission.

The greater, overall challenge though is empathy with one’s readers, whom one may not see. The written word is a very powerful thing, in the right hands. It can create and destroy; it can invoke emotions… The writer needs to be able to empathise with his audience, so that his style of writing invokes the same emotions in his readers as it does him. Sometimes a writer has to write about that which disturbs him, so that he may have the same effect on his readership. We’re not actors but us authors are artists too. We play to our audience and if we wish to make them laugh, we can. We can also make them cry and we can scare them.

I have personally been asked several times to write pieces for people or situations. Often this is a private affair between me and the commissioner but some of my published stories and poems were also requests. Some sought relief, others hope; at least one sought revenge. In every instance, I have invoked emotions and often evoked memories, to the desired effect. I’ve created people and places. Sometimes I destroyed them. It is said that a good writer plays and stays in your mind.

Today I needed to write something for someone else. It had not been asked for but I felt compelled to write and express my feelings. Words are my greatest personal tool. I’m a reclusive, depressed alcoholic, prone to episodes of anxiety and paranoia. Words are my way of communicating; of recording and broadcasting my thoughts. It’s easier for me this way and it saves me having to repeat myself – “RTFB”.

I wrote a short poem to a friend with whom I went to school and therefore grew up with: kids of the 80s, the greatest generation. We were at school together; we commuted many miles, drank many drinks and shared good times. When one part of that generation in your life goes, it leaves a big hole.

My friend is not well. He reads this blog. We went to the same grammar school. We were privileged to be there during “The Barn”‘s iron rule as Headmaster, dictator, drill sergeant, fixer and all-round Top Cat: El Capitan. Thus we share a dark and gallows humour. So in writing to my friend, I realised that there is no point in sending a Get Well Soon card when he won’t. Similarly, there’s no value in all-will-be-well sentiments when it won’t.

So, where my inspiration who is Paul Auster is pleased with one or two pages of final copy at the end of a working day and I myself aspire to the same, today’s output was minimal but I hope worthwhile. For in this I have tried to convey togetherness and hope, while at the same time not shying away from the issue. To do so would be sentimental and in denial. So this is from me to him:

On The Platform

Standing here, look back,
on the story so far.
The past and passed.
Your life a stage,
filled with loved ones:
The Assembled Cast.
And smile.
We’ll be there,
in just a while.

We’re moving onwards,
in this life
which knows no end.
To new adventures.
Safe journey,
dear friend.
Like a wave from a train.
We will see you.

I’m pretty sure I told you mate but just in case, I did pass your note to The Barn: the great man smiled.

A good writer is on your mind. Always.

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