I start the email: “Thank you so much for letting me know. Unfortunately, I won’t be able to make it…”
I flip through the script in my mind and ask myself why I wouldn’t want to have a go at creative writing. “Too busy.” I think. There is truth to this. I have been both lucky and incredibly grateful during this time to have a steady stream of work to keep my restless hands busy.
Surely though, I can spare an hour once a week and make it up elsewhere. I wonder if there is something else too. I have always loved words and stories but it has been a long time since I have written entirely from my imagination.
The blog is different, more practical in nature. I can do research, I feel more sure of myself when I have an idea. Usually, posts start from a place of thinking about the creative process. Fiction feels like a whole different creature.
Yet here it is, a fantastic opportunity to explore and learn more about a different type of creativity I have always admired. A talented and experienced writer teaching it. And I am not going to grasp it with both hands? Really?
There is another reason I am hesitant. A vulnerability I feel because writing fiction is a skill I am so in awe of. It is something I haven’t done for many (many, many) years.
I think about this blog, how I can be stuck for ideas sometimes. How a creative writing course could just free up something perhaps (Spoiler ~ it does). How it might allow for a space to think a little differently about it too. I want to mark this strange surreal time too. Finally, I think about what I need. About heading into that feeling of vulnerability instead of veering away. It is after all, part of the creative process.
How to break a spell
I press delete, delete, delete and start my email over, “Dear Jackie, Yes please. I am looking forward to this short story course, please count me in, I can’t wait”. It is true. I am nervous and excited and eager and scared. Most of all, I am pleased I flipped the script and said yes.
“Words cast spells…I am the story I tell myself, about myself.”
Below is an excerpt from my short story, a first draft. (I’ve definitely spotted a theme with my creative work – pretty sure it’ll be obvious). I have two weeks left of the course, by the end I will have a full short story finished.
When his breathing faltered, crackling softly, in,out, in. Out. In and nothing more, I rested a while, I was so tired too and scared. Opposite the window facing East he was lit golden, in a way only mornings know. At the point at which light stops at him, I begin. Lying horizontally on the floor we could have been sleeping him and I.
Later, it was time to leave. I tilt head back just very slightly, a test, It is easier than I imagined. Gingerly inching back further still, there is no tear, no seams which rip, only a strange coolness, the air of a puncture flow. I can’t remember the before time or the time before that. I only know this time around.
I separate fully from the one I have known my whole this life. No longer the familiar comfort and sometimes the awkward shame of falling at his feet. We have belonged to one another, toe to toe, palm to palm for as long as his memories of me exist but there is no room for me in the place without light, shade and colour. I would never be seen in that limitless dark, even if he could raise a hand I couldn’t be there.
This is how the end begins again.
There are four rules. There are always the rules. The rules are always remembered when everything else is forgotten. The shadow belongs to a physical body, not the other way around. Once you are undone from your body you have to find another. This is easy because you can feel the one who you belong to next. You begin over, shrunk small again. You have until the day turns to night again.
Without being tied to my body it feels like that time we tried roller skates. Did we? Did we try roller skates? I think we did… Already I am not sure, not sure at all. The distance between us grows further already and I can’t quite know what I thought I did.
Standing against the white wall now I try my left arm lifting it high like a wing, palms upturned I unroll my fingers like feathers. I make a beak too and and clap its mouth open and shut. Remember when we did this when were were five, (Did we, did we?).
I lift my other arm and higher and stretch it further, touch the tip of my long hand to corner of the ceiling. It feels good to stretch so far in this light.
Once noon comes I will be more limited, smaller, less able to fill the room. I curve my arms, a ballet dancer now. I always wanted to dance. (I don’t think we did, I don’t think we did.)
These small tests over, I fully twirl and whirl, a spinning sun catcher in my own way. What else can hold the suns attention like a shadow. I am shade and colour in the spotlight of the white wall. I spin and spin.
I am more fluid and lighter than I remember. Without my anchor I am free and I fly.