Freedom From The Mundane - A Writer's Blog

Monday, March 21, 2005

Detached From Normal Life

As could have been predicted, I slept in. The pull of an empty house in which to write proved irresistible last night, and I wrote long into the early hours. What am I to do? If I could, I would have continued until daybreak, but alas, the nightshift is not sustainable in my current way of life.

And so the alarm went off - probably. I never heard it and woke at 9:35am. In the space of 25 minutes I ironed a short, showered, dressed, got my gear together and called a cab.

While out getting my lunch, I thought more about last night's documentary on Robert Louis Stevenson.

The more I write - or to be more specific - the more I think about writing and my place in the literary world, the more detached I feel from 'normality'. Every day on my journey to get a cappuccino and filled roll, I see people in shirt and tie. They talk about routers and servers, budgets and projects, and I know I am not like them. The more I move towards a life of art and reaching the creative soul within me, the more the rat race appeals less and fades into the distance.

This beggars two questions.

How can I expect to write fiction that is real to normal people who read my work, when I feel I do not fit in to the normal pattern of life?

Also, how can I expect to relate to people around me, when I feel further away from the people in the street, my countrymen and women, when I feel I am not even like them.

I'm not above or below these people, merely that I see them from a different angle, through a third eye. But - and here is the truth - the more I drift from the normality of the nine to five world and the people who dwell in it, the happier I become with myself and where I am going. But at the same time, the more I despise the routine of desk-sitting in an office prison.

I don't think I have found my true voice as yet, but it's under the surface of my skin, itching like a worm burrowing through my flesh and between my veins. It is coming; I can feel it. I suspect, only a writer can fully understand this.

All this talk about Edinburgh inspired a poem during the afternoon. An image I have always held about Edinburgh's New Town came to mind and I developed it into a first draft. This is a longer poem, and will take some time to complete.

The people of Edinburgh often refer to the people of Glasgow as 'Weegies' and the even less complimentary, 'The Great Unwashed'. Yet I found myself this afternoon, writing a letter to our Building Manager to complain about the lack of soap in the dispensers of the men's toilet.

This is a problem that afflicts this building more often that not and I have grown sick of it. The dispensers have been empty for over a week now and I find it ridiculous that even in this age of cutbacks, we have to complain to get soap.

Except it wasn't "we". It was only ME that complained. Nobody I spoke to about it had even noticed there was no soap for them to wash their hands after urination or defecation.

And they call us the great unwashed? No wonder they call this place Auld Reekie!

On the way home I picked up a copy of the Last Laugh from Waterstone's. Some of you may remember I entered the BBC's End of Story competition last year. You had to pick one of six partially completed short stories and completed it, then if you got shortlisted you got onto the television and meet your chosen author.

This year they are doing sitcoms. There is a clutch of excellent sitcom writers to choose from, and like last year I will choose the funniest one I can do the most with.

Check it out:

Gail is home and balance has been restored to the Universe. I think she doesn't get how much I missed her, citing my trips away as a reason. But she forgets; I miss her just as much when it is I who is travelling. I know I'm in danger of getting all soppy but it's great to have her home.

After washing my hands thoroughly, I cooked her chicken in a honey and mustard sauce with green peppers and basmati rice. It was okay - not the best sauce I've made, but it was different. I prefer spicier sauces myself. She said it was great to come home to a) all the washing done and b) a home-cooked meal. Can't say fairer than that.

I wrote till midnight on Hunting Jack. The creativity is channelling through me onto the page, but I am finding that being on the road home, I have to concentrate much more on the plot. It is becoming harder to manage all the strands and weave them all together, slowly and carefully, so as to protect the reader from the truth too early, and build this story to its maximum peak of excitement.
Colin 11:28 am


Part of writing well is the ability to observe acutely while still living life. There's always a certain amount of detachment from "normal" people, because they are simply living their lives, while a writer's job is to dissect, understand and communicate the essence of the lives around him or her.

The best writers always feel a sense of displacement.

And Rankin's right -- EVERYTHING is material.

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