I am Other

Discipline, that’s what this is all about, right? Sitting down and making sure I write something every day…easy. Well, apparently not so easy when it’s 100 degrees outside (almost 40 deg C to my UK friends) and the heat is making you feel sick. I was so out of sorts yesterday. It wasn’t until I went to school with Jon to watch him do one of his Live Performance Workshops (LPWs), and I was in a cool, temperature controlled environment, that I started to feel better and realized it was the heat making me feel funny. It definitely didn’t help my concentration.

Not that I didn’t try…discipline, remember. I sat down, opened my jar (which I decorated with a crocheted cover I’d made whilst watching the classic BBC TV show ‘Keeping Up Appearances’ on Netflix) and pulled out ‘Ghouls and Ghosts’ from the ‘Like the Lines’ folder.

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A bit of light creativity

This was a poem I’d written during a time of turbulence, apparently. I don’t recall the actual event but it opens with ‘Lost in the middle/fallen off track/can’t go forward/too scared to go back’, noodles a bit over feeling sorry for myself, some friends’ nostalgia, a supportive hug and then ends with ‘to protect from the ghouls/and hide from the ghosts’. It was those final lines in particular that made me select that poem for that folder. I think it’s an easy metaphor to refer to people from our pasts, who we may still see, as ghosts that haunt us and whilst the language of the other stanzas was telling and unobtrusive I felt something could be made of the idea.

I started with the same opening stanza as I like the rhythm and the rhyme but, try as I might, I was just uninspired. I realized that a lot of my old poems come from a teenage experience I don’t relate to anymore; one that had a profound affect on who I am now but not one that I still live…which is a nice thing to see. It also reminded me how sometimes you just can’t force things and even though my jar exercise is a good one to keep me motivated, there will be days when I’m just not feeling poetic, or I’m melting from the inside out and need a change of scene.

So I relocated to the main room of our Hollywood studio, by the air conditioner, and lounged on the bed to read a book on writing from the library called Pen on Fire by Barbara DeMarco-Barrett. It’s the book that kickstarted my writing again; a ‘busy woman’s guide to igniting the writer within’ and helps to deal with time as a barrier against writing. She reminded me about free writing which I shared with you in Feeling with the help of some friends. What I need to do on these non-poetic days is just free write a little – add to my list of ideas for future work.

So I flick through the book. It’s arranged into little bite sized segments; probably so you can fit the reading time into your busy schedule. I came upon a segment called ‘Celebrate Your Otherness’ in the ‘Mining Your Life’ chapter (page 101) which really struck a chord with me. It begins…

Writers often feel as if they exist on the periphery of life. By being observers, we feel a bit detached from the action of the moment. It’s difficult to blend in, to become a part of things.

The whole chapter was so resonant. Yes, that’s me, my entire life. Able to relate to anyone and everyone yet never really able to truly connect. At school I knew everyone and they all knew me…I’d wander from group to group; never apart, always a part. Sometimes it made me arrogant and I’d shun those who could potentially been friends, usually it made me lonely. I never really understood that side of me, I’d but it down to being an only child, my parent’s would put it down to jealousy others; it was probably both but I was, have always been, ‘other’. That’s something that ‘Ghouls and Ghosts’ relates to.

Suddenly I’m inspired and spend some time looking into the word ‘other’ and it’s meanings and synonyms. I think about the show ‘Lost’ and how the scary, suspicious islanders were known as ‘others’ and how we react to those who invade our sense of belonging…also represented in the show ‘The Walking Dead’.

I wasn’t going to write anything yesterday, so just brainstormed some ideas for another time…like today while the smoke from the Santa Clarita sand fire blotted out the sun and, at least, cooled us down (I can only imagine how hot and suffocating it is over there right now). This poem helps me see how I am an other, how people can react negatively to that, and how it’s something I embrace in my quirkiness.

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