Frustration and inspiration. Sometimes one even bleeds into the other. I wrote a novel manuscript in a time of frustration, the first draft in just 12 weeks, as I saw it as a kind of ‘golden ticket’, a way through and out of my situation. Though it wasn’t (a way out) in the end – the act of writing, and of walking while thinking about writing, of characters and scenes and meanings, was one of the ways of coping with dissatisfaction.
The past couple of weeks have been a fascinating bundle of inspiration and frustration, and the one bleeding into the other. I’ve been productive – just in different ways than usual. The idea generator is still on overdrive. Notebooks are being filled. Poems are being written out of a combination of: longing, what I’m currently reading, conversations, and visits to art galleries (I go through phases with poetry, and it’s really something I just write for myself. Professionally I’m aware I’m a far better prose writer). I have just finished a draft of a new short story. I’ve taken great steps with the beginning of my doctoral project. I’ve been asked to write another article, run another workshop, and do a reading.
So where is the frustration? I think it’s simply not having sent much off of late. I feel I haven’t written anything to the point of submission… Everything is fragmentary or old or just begun. I’ve missed tons of deadlines for fiction submissions and competitions – journals I’d love to appear in.
And then I go to something like the Olafur Eliasson exhibition ‘Take Your Time’ at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Sydney, and I am blown away and would love to find some way to describe it. But how? And why? Strangely, some of my impressions have been trialed through Facebook status updates. This one is about the Eliasson installation piece, which is just a room bathed in intense yellow light:
stood in a big room under yellow lights and my eyelids were like big black beetles and a woman walked in all grey-green with enhanced freckles. The world outside (with Lego castles) was purple.
And this one is after a restless night:
dreams last night included a big brown & orange frog, too slippery to catch; and a monkey that tickled my ribs until I woke up, my stomach clenched like a fist
I think with these, I am experimenting with subtext, and I always find it interesting to see what comments people leave, or who will give it a thumbs-up. Do any of you use Facebook or Twitter like this?
I have also been keeping a journal called ’26 days apart’. I won’t elaborate, but it’s to/about/for sir who is in New York. And in it I expressed the Eliasson like this:
The coliseum of white where I went from pink to blue. I have never felt anything like it – colour washing over you. It’s a very physical sensation. In the yellow room, blinking black beetles. Kafkaesque. And surreal. A woman walked in and she was all grey. Her freckles were massive blemishes. She gave me the strangest look – ‘hey, you’re all grey.’ Looking at my arm was like looking at it through the lens of an old 8mm. The world outside, with the little Lego castles – formerly white – was purple.
You know what he forced me to do? He forced me to think about colour. In a way I never have before. And then he plunged me in a dark cave, a vortex, which smelt damp, and sure enough at the other end there was a misty veil of water, and a rainbow. An old couple stood behind it and they became smudged and mysterious. I felt compelled to tell them.
I went back to the white round place, I waited for the pink wash again. It turned my pink skirt orange. I want to do it again, it was like a ride, a ride of the senses.
I write all the time. Every day. Lately I suppose the audiences have been different – writing as philosophical figuring-out, for myself; writing to someone – one person who is at the forefront of my mind; writing to 500-odd Facebook friends to let them in on a moment’s sensory impression; writing and planning fiction with an awareness of wanting it to encompass all these things, in a way – to provide a philosophical question; to engage the senses, the intellect and the heart – of one person and of a group. To provide worth, and to challenge and confirm simultaneously – if you know what I mean.
And maybe the awareness of this is stopping me from sending things out willy-nilly. But maybe this is a good thing.
I’m off to do a second draft of that story…