Friday, 29 January 2016


 This week, I taught the first classes in this years Pen to Print Project - a project to help authors through the process of writing a book. One of the topics we spoke about was 'Free Writing' - the process of writing comepletely uncensore - putting pen to paper and writing whatever words appear in your head, until they stop

After finishing Apirl Skies, I have taken to sitting down every now and then, and trying a bit of Free Writing. What is coming out may perhaps be the basis of my next novel. I'm not sure.  Maybe it's just ramblings. Who knows.

Anyway, here's the first bit. It's all completely uncensored and unedited - just as it poured out my head ...

I was born in Hell.
I have lived my whole life in Hell.
I am Hell.
Everyone comes from somewhere.
It’s just the way it is.

I chose to birth into this world on the fourteenth day of August 1947. It was as good a day as any. I chose my parents. I chose the location. I even chose the fucking weather.
            If you knew the power you had inside you, the power to create it all – EVERYTHING – you too would see the world as I do. You too could have had a life worth living.

I was so content to remain in the womb of my mother, they had to cut me out. That was their first mistake. Unravelling the spongy cord around my neck that threatened to choke the life out of me before it had begun – that was their second.
            My mother died right there on the operating table.
            It saved time.
            After all.
            My father took me home to what was little more than a shed. His sister – a Dickensian brute of a woman – fed me from her liver-spotted breast with sour milk and a deep sense of self-loathing, whilst my father worked the fields with iron hands and a broken heart. Never did I get an ‘ooh’ or an ‘aahh’ or a ‘coochie-coochie-coo’ from either of them.
            Her name was Sally, my father’s sister. Her hair was black and her heart was blacker still. She would wheel me to church of a Sunday in the black boxcart pram and leave me in the vestry as she sang her way to Salvation in a deep baritone voice that would turn the very angles on high to stone.
            There is no God, you see.
            Only fear.
            They all knew that, the old folks sitting there in their woollen coats and their rustic cheeks and their rattling bones, praising and singing and sermoning, keeping the Devil at bay.
            There is no God for these people.
            Only hope.
            But I am afraid to tell you, Ladies and Gentlemen, there is no hope.
            The hereafter does not exist. All there is, is now. This moment. This breath. Take it while you can.
            It’s all you’ve got.

I bruise easily. I am a sensitive soul. Back then, even more so. But I would never cry. If my father’s sister took it upon herself to check me in her own way, to mould the me I was becoming into her own image, I would stand my ground and I would glare at her with my round black eyes fixed on hers, a steady stream of bloody pouring from my nose. Stop it! she would scream. Stop it! But I wouldn’t. I would just stand there and slowly open my mouth to feel the blood slide over my thick lips and into my vacuous mouth, until she could take no more. You are the Devil himself! she would scream.
            But I’m not. I am just like you. You and me and everyone else in this world. We are all the same, you see. There are no individual people.
            Just different ways of playing the game.
            And a game, that’s all it is, this life. If you could see me, see my eyes when the day breaks, and the tears that form there, you will see the little me that once was. I am sure. And you will hate me less because I am you and you are me. If that is enough to make you stay, my work here is done, and I can call you friend.
            But there are other days, when all I see is the blood dripping from the sun and the clouds exploding.
            These days are the worst, when the fear inside me rips open my brain and the leakage pours hot and messy, and the rain falls like words of hate cutting me and slicing me, leaving me cowering in a corner, lost and cold and alone.
            And there she stands once more, my father’s sister.

So there it is. I've written about two thousand words of the stuff so far, and I'm still no clearer where it's going. Somehow, thought, I know it's speaking of something I need to hear. It feels very personal. Got no idea how, or why. 

It just does.

And that's the point of free writing. Those words that appear in your head fully-formed and spoken aloud, come from nowhere else but that depths of your own being. 

They are nothing to be afraid of.

Go with it, and you might be surprised what comes out :)     

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