Writing Through The Storm
I’ve been asked ‘How do you keep your writing going, after you have captured the initial idea?’ My answer, for now is, I pay attention to conflict, desire and I’m not afraid to be brutally honest. Look at your character, are they working towards a goal? What are their smallest desires?
The real truth is I apply that same attention to my actual life and feel every particle of the stories around me rubbing themselves into my skin, on a daily basis.
Stress has been a parasite in my house this year – it has eaten my husband alive. It’s sat, fat and heavy like a tape-worm in his stomach, getting fatter and fatter, while he expanded in shape to fit around it. His face mutated, to give those around him a clue that his insides did not belong to himself any longer. He became claimed by the darkness that called him. That lived inside of him. We’ve lived in the heart of a storm.
In this time I’ve been stifled. I’ve been still, paralysed by heat and stagnant air, waiting for the tension to break. The smell of rotting flesh in my house, is cloying. It’s dropped from my husband’s body, inch by inch and the acid that’s spreading from these discarded and un-guarded pieces of meat, has undermined the foundations of our relationship, I had previously believed were there. Exhausted I’ve crawled through the last few months and just at the point of giving in to rest, we have both been subjected to an unscheduled roller-coaster ride.
I’ve been married to a number of different men, this past year, my husband was shattered into numerous pieces. He’d grown in size from feasting on stress until, all the different parts of himself he’d tried to keep together, split open.
First I was introduced to this guy:
He couldn’t hear anything I said, all words given to him, would slide down his face and flop, like cold and over-cooked fried eggs. I became scared that, this man was who I had said I would spend the rest of my life with. I wasn’t sure we could make it through and I had no real clue what to do. He appeared just at the point I had signed my papers to start an MA in Professional Writing, it crossed my mind that he could be an omen to turn back. Get to a safe place and hide. And then this guy started showing up in my lounge:
This man moved stuff around. A-lot. Whole rooms moved. I had just began my writing studies and a few free-lancing projects. I couldn’t find anything, pens, paper, careful research disappeared and this new guy, would deny having anything to do with it. It was best not to argue with this guy, he had to do, what he had to do. Except I’m not very good at ‘not’. So there was a fair bit of yelling and crying and riding these invisible theme park rides of emotion. Every damn day.
Palpable relief flooded into the house when the theme park rides of emotion slowed down. However a transformation was brewing, I could feel it. My husband disappeared into a cocoon of serious creative play and unexpectedly emerged painted completely white and dressed as a clown. He ventured into town as a living statue and attracted attention. People kept trying to give him money, women were kissing him, children wanted their photos taken with him. I snatched time in the middle of the night to write for my MA and my short stories became darker. This was merely a catalyst and not the end path.
With mixed emotion and fatigue, I met another character, quieter this time. More thoughtful. I wondered if I would need to go back to frugal living, as we were being grateful about small things. Practising savouring our food and being present in the moment. Tiny things were very important and then not. It was more peaceful and yet still confusing. My husband discovered the joy of movement and weight began to drop from his body. Walking slowly to the end of our road – then running to the end of the road – next running around the block. Over a period of six weeks he lost over two-stone and became a different person once more. this time one that I recognised, from a long, long, time ago. A time when we could look at each other and smile. A time I could watch him in the garden without a gnawing twist of worry in the pit of my stomach.
Finally I have this man back, with a twinkle in his eyes. Who knows what the next journey will entail, I have no idea. I do know that every second of the past eight months will wind its way into my writing, onto the page in front of me.
All art-work created by Thomas Maccallum
Video courtesy of Sandy Sand
This work by Thomas and Anita MacCallum is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.