I am often asked, how do I get ideas for writing? There are many ways to approach the task, over the next couple of weeks I’ll be sharing some of my top tips.
Top tip number one: Eavesdrop, do not be afraid. Go into bars and sit alone with a notebook. Hide in supermarket aisles writing any fragments you can stumble upon. Sit in a busy park, catching the words as they fly through the air.I’ll share with you my favourite way to collect words, the advice I give myself when gathering words to create a new story.
First get invited to lots of parties. When you have arrived at your destination, head straight for, under the kitchen table – get comfortable, you’ll be there a while. Crumbs of conversations will get dropped, if you’re lucky you’ll get a full meal.
A demonstration: I arrive at the party, greeting my host graciously, whilst keeping my pace towards the kitchen table. After settling into my spot, in the darkness, protected by a table cloth made from twilight sky; I lick my finger and carefully collect word fragments. Balancing all the little letters on the edge of my hand, my eyes drink them in before I devour them. The way the words fall to the floor affects the taste. My experience changes when the speaker has been mulling them over, masticating each consonant, something like ‘if I could have anyone, it would be you’ contains an earthy sweetness of roasted vegetables or strawberries, soaked in balsamic, a kiss of sugar erupts into my mouth.
A vicious ‘Fuck off’ hissing its way to the floor, tends to keep moving, till it reaches me in my secret place. I cannot leave it there, all words belong to me in that moment, I have to catch it and chew it – cold spaghetti with a chilli kick.
I spend the whole night gorging on words thrown, spewed and delicately arranged, till all guests have left and the host has given themselves over to sleep. Emerging from my hiding place, stomach rounded, I’m pregnant with stories. Waddling away, shadowed hands holding my ankles, it’s hard to leave my under-the-table place of seduction. And yet I am tickled by angel’s white feathers and led by a trail of these soft white beauties, to a nine month long dance to my pen and paper.
When I finally arrive at my desk, pen in hand, the pain and mess of labour spills onto my page, a bloodied re-creation of what I consumed at the last social gathering. I finger-paint with darkened red velvet entrails the, ‘I’ll fucking kill you’s’.
I cut my little darlings of ‘Your eyes are the blue of skies.’ These are erased, for this week, I’m not interested in re-creating love scenes, or sunlit yellow breakfasts of tea and toast. I want to play with dead things, chewed rats heads that haunt me with their decay. I want to write about the time when he thought he couldn’t go on, or she thought no-one could see her, or they thought they were invincible. I don’t want to know about new white carpets or perfect patterns on his screen saver. So I hide in shadowed places, waiting for words to be dropped and I eat them up, digest them and display them for all to see.