Home is a place where I navigate un-chartered territory, hiding from my darkest dusty corners and celebrating my sparkliest eye catching glitters. It’s the place where I can safely go into my chrysalis and emerge as a butterfly, before sharing that self with the rest of the world. My home is an ocean that creates its own storms, and provides me with the calmest waters, from which to drink deep. All this is contained between my four walls, a seemingly ordinary place, in an unremarkable street. If you zoomed out on Google earth, my home is lost on the second click, gobbled up by bigger spaces or taller buildings. Just gone.
This year everything has changed, I am seeking a renewal of faith, the people I once turned to are now gone. I have an urge to hold onto what was, when I know that I cannot. My hands open and close, reaching out for a tangible fact to hold onto. I simply end up grasping faded light and playing with shadows, I’m left sat in the dark, wishing I could get up and turn the lights on, but I can’t. I’ve forgotten where the switch is. At these times I reach out my hands and see who wants to hold them. I’ve been asking friends, fellow students, neighbours, work colleagues, what is a personal hero? My husband wrote:-
‘A hero, as a concept it’s very compelling – the individual that will endure hardships and terror to save others from oppression or some other manner of adversity. The hero that possesses skills and/ or resources that are rare amongst the hero’s peers. For me my heroes are the ones that can articulate big ideas, noble ideals, those that communicate in such an effective way as to bring positive change to their communities, to inspire and shine light of truth and clarity in places where others are happy to scrabble in the dark. For me the heroes are of the pen and not the sword, from Gandhi to Noam Chomsky.’ Tom MacCallum
I asked, writer Stuart Wakefield who is your personal hero?
James Dean and Marlon Brando might have been heralded as the faces of the new wave of acting, but, for me, it was Montgomery Clift. Witness any close-up shot of Clift and you’ll see a lot going on in his eyes. You can see what he’s thinking without him saying a word. That was ground-breaking at the time. Clift was a hugely popular actor, sizzling on screen with Elizabeth Taylor in several movies. But there was an ongoing struggle with illness and sexuality that I think informed his style, too. Clift knew what physical and emotional suffering felt like and was able to project that through the camera and onto film. – Stuart.
Too many of my personal heroes have left this world in the last few months, Maya Angelou, Nelson Mandela, Robin Williams and Rick Mayall to name a few. I still see them in their books and films around me. I feel blessed I’ve lived a life where I have witnessed their creations. I’ve spoken with my friends, family and colleagues about this, it’s a shared conversation. I’m seeing community projects popping up all over the place, ‘what super hero are you’, ‘who are your heroes’, we are a community searching for guidance. I’m reminded once more that it’s too easy to dine at the media table and worship the rough diamonds that have been polished too brightly, by the cameras that created them. Is that to cynical? There are times when all I can do is rest on the truth of other people’s creativity, in those times my life path is held safe in those hands that dared to be bold. I lean on old quotes and trust.
“The world is full of magic things, patiently waiting for our senses to grow sharper.” ― W.B. Yeats
I’m at that point again, when everything and nothing are equally possible. As a freelance artist and a mother, this time of year utterly floors me. I swing from knowing doors are opening for me and contracts are being signed, to crying, wailing and looking at job adverts – I know I need to keep the freelancer faith. In August I stay home with my children, flirting with the odd piece of work. My skills become buried under litres of wine, sunshine and young laughter. I’ve grown so comfortable with my own languishing this summer that I’ve forgotten what I do.
The air has changed, its damp and I can’t dry any clothes. Homes are cleared of children, they march back along the streets in line, with their uniforms on. Shop keepers grow fat on the profits of stationary, new shoes and the angst of parents.
I can’t quite reach myself. The silence I have craved for the past six weeks of the school holidays is deafening. Loneliness floats around the edges of my existence, I don’t know if it’s mine to claim or an innocent bystander.
I search through the dust on my furniture, knowing the past me, the working me, is there somewhere. If I move enough things and create the right amount of vacant space, I could re-construct myself. Under a paper-work pile I find fragments of my future. Shards of ideas get stuck, splintered in my feet, but I refuse to pull them out. I’d rather wait until they infect me into action.
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.