Monday, 21 November 2016

Lazy and afraid.

I've got this thing about writing fiction: I can't do it. I can't get myself to do it. I think I'm afraid of it being really, really god-awful. Most of my non-fiction is something I don't think about. I just do it, it just comes out because it's coming straight from my head. It is my real thoughts in real time. Fiction comes from somewhere else. I'm not always sure where that is.

I have written fiction before. I got to 50,000 words of a novel when I was 13 before I became self-conscious and wouldn't dare touch it anymore. I always think of that age as my golden age for creativity. I made short films and wrote stories and cared deeply about what I was doing and about nothing else. I didn't care what people thought of what I did, I just wanted to do it. All my ideas were tangible and I was very productive with them. I remember staying up until way into the early hours of the morning writing a chapter that had come into my head. When did I last do something like that?

I'm too scared to do it now. I care whether it's good or not. I want it to be good the minute it goes onto the page. I want immediate satisfaction from it. I've become lazy, I'm less willing to put in the effort. But the worst thing is that I'm not willing to give it up. 

I have a constant cycle of feeling guilty for not paying attention to any creative writing, putting in minimal effort for half an hour every couple of weeks and then waiting for the guilt to creep back in. I know that I am actively stopping myself from writing. I am afraid and lazy and I care what people think. How do I start to undo that? 

Friday, 11 November 2016

Dark Year.

Ah, 2016, the Dark Year of the West. I think I've had a more emotional response to Leonard Cohen's death today than I did to Trump's "victory". Perhaps because we lost another artist contributing insight and beauty to the world, and yet we continue to gain more hatred and more stupidity. I don't have much to say about Trump. I've said what I think of him. I think I repeated the words "piece of shit" about twenty times whilst watching the election results unfold. If you really emphasises the "shit" with as much disdain as you can muster then it says all you need.

Really I'm not going to say much more because he's a terrorist and I'm not going to say that I'm scared. I'm not scared because I don't live in America and I'm not gay/African American/ Mexican American/Muslim American. I'm a woman, and I lament with other women across the pond that their president hates them. But I will not say I'm scared.

I don't want to polarise, because that is equally as dangerous. I don't want to say them = bad, us = good. It's tempting to think that, and sometimes I do, but that is not a solution. There must be something we can do or say to stop this rise of hatred and fear and ignorance. Do we allow ourselves to consider why they voted Trump? Do we give reason to this madness? Yes. Of course we do. Something in that country, in this climate, made those people vote for an incompetent pig. Why?

I am contributing to the Trump pollution on our social media, I know. But we have to talk about it. We have to work it out. What just happened? What does this mean? What do we do now?

I can't make any concrete thoughts about this. I keep asking questions without any glimmer of an answer. I think we are waiting in limbo now, the western world held in suspense, floating through the air as if in an explosion and our minds are slowing it down and the sound is too loud to make a noise. I don't know what the aftermath will be, but I know you can always clear it up. We are not hopeless, we are just confused.

Thursday, 3 November 2016

Toppling on the high seats of our privilege.

Sitting in a room full of white, middle-class Cambridge students discussing the issue of cultural appropriation in literature made me feel eerily uncomfortable. The discussion was lively and interesting until parts of it were dismissed as nonsense which would have only been an appropriate response if every one of us weren't toppling on the high seats of our privilege.

This is not to say that white, well-off people shouldn't discuss race issues - they absolutely should be trying to work that one out - but with a lack of any other voice the conversation feels superficial and very awkwardly distant from ourselves. None of us were going to leave the room and live the reality of what we spoke about. It was a bit like a group of men sitting in a room discussing the rights of women over their bodies and leaving without gaining anything much from the conversation. Mainly because it wasn't allowed to finish. In fairness, we were not in that room to discuss cultural appropriation because it was a lesson and there were other topics to move on to. But, when we delved into the topic of race how much were we really thinking about it? How sensitive did we intend to be? Why did I feel squirmish about it, wanting to defend the missing representatives?

I can't think of how to raise this issue without sounding like I want to ban all white groups from casually discussing race. I should point out that no one in that room was racist, I think most of us felt the same way, but it was the dismissal that worried me. I wanted more thought on it, more working out of opinions and ideas. I didn't want anyone to wave my thinking aloud off as "nonsense" before I'd worked out what I was saying.

I think what I'm trying to say is that what I was saying, and what most of us was saying, was unfinished and so we went away with an uncomfortable question mark hanging over our heads. The topic had so much weight that to wave it off without any conclusion or bettered understanding felt wrong. If we were going to lack representation then I'd rather we talked about it probably. Obviously we weren't going to change the world in that room with that conversation, but we had a chance of developing ideas. I just feel that in an ideal situation we should have stuck to that development.

I feel that ultimately there was something missing. From our high seats of privilege we could have taken away something really cool from that discussion and, well, I just don't think that we did.