Inkmen

When nib kissed paper, electricity fizzed outwards in a spider web of sparks and you were born.

You shocked me at first. You were thinner than I had planned, with a smudge of a moustache on your upper lip. A rumpled suit hung off your body; a pair of spades for hands poked out from the sleeves as if curious to see the world. When you walked, your chest curved inwards on itself, shy, despite the confident stride of your loafer clad feet.

Not a word was spoken until sunset. You sat in the margin and hugged your knees while I sat on my giant’s throne and squinted down at you. Mine. My tiny creation, perched on the edge. When you looked at me, I gasped: I had forgotten to give you an eye colour. Two dark coals were buried in your sockets, burning with a flameless heat. Who am I? you asked.

I haven’t decided yet. I think your name might be Jonah.

You rolled the name around in your mouth like an oversized marble, raising one eyebrow. Every move you made was beautiful to me. I picked up my pen again, eager to fill you out, but you stood up, shaking your head in fear. You hurled your thin body at me and tried to batter down the walls between us. Vaguely frightened, I looked on in wonder. The screams coming from your mouth were strangled, muted. There is no escape for you here, I tell you. This is the world I built for you.

I don’t like it. This is not what I wanted. Oil tears fall thickly down your face and silhouette hands press into your eye sockets. Your shoulders shake.

It is not what I wanted either. Heart pounding, I throw my pen to one side, slam the pages of the notebook shut and stuff it hurriedly onto a crammed shelf. Not only yours, but many muffled sounds issue from the long row of identical jotters: snippets of song, laughter, the miniscule taps of feet pacing. If I close my eyes, I can almost see every birth, every creation.

And I wonder if it was good.

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What is your story?

I have recently been told of a theory that in all literature, there are only two ‘types’ of story:

  • A love story – this includes hate as an extension or opposite form of love
  • And a ‘fish out of water’ story – one where a person is put into an entirely alien situation and is unsure of how to proceed

At first glance, this appears a strange thing to say. Surely it cannot be that every piece of fiction can be labelled so broadly? There are intricacies to consider, character fluctuations, magnificent creatures and unknown worlds battling in never ending wars.

It is a theory you read, scoff at, and discard without consideration.

However, in the past week I have made the biggest step of my life so far. I have moved to a new city and undertaken a degree in that which I love the most: English with Creative Writing. I have had to deal with faulty door keys, broken boilers and cookers with no marked temperatures or functions. In short, I have had to grow up in an entirely different way than I have ever experienced.

So I began to wonder if this theory may have a point – for wouldn’t it be wonderful if at least something in this world could be so brilliantly simple?

I am the first to admit that we all have a tendency to over complicate matters to the nth degree, calculating and compensating for possibilities and actualities, fighting over figures and statistics to come to one measly conclusion. Why is it that when we look at a collection of books we assume that they are all completely separate from one another? As with all things in life, everything written is intertwined with something or someone else. A poem is written in response to a novel; a novel in response to a play; a play in response to real life. And what is it in Life, that everyone values above all else? What is it that writers and directors and singers strive to portray in their work to connect with the audience?

LOVE and LONELINESS.

When you strip down the contents of a library to its bare essentials, you will find pages of exactly that. From Shakespeare and his star crossed lovers; to J.K.Rowling and her orphan protagonist thrown into the ‘wizarding world’.

Stop trying to factor in metaphors and hyperbole. Stop analysing syntax and rhythm. Just absorb the core message at the heart of a text and listen to what it is trying to tell you.

And then maybe try this when all in your world is becoming too much. Strip away the leaking washing machine and the poorly cat. Throw down that magazine telling you that by eating this combination of nuts you may get cancer. Disregard that person who purposefully slammed into you when you walked past them. And just think.

What is your story today?

sphere-itize me, captain by Demi-Broke

The Last Silence

I have just finished reading a book called ‘Grievous Angel’ by Jane Hill. It follows the life and love of a woman betrayed by the one man she ever fell for, who, years later, goes in search for him, learning the hard way that every story has two sides to it.

It wasn’t, in my eyes particularly well written; it wasn’t at all unpredictable and yet I powered through all 391 pages in half a day. (It’s one for the poolside this holiday if you’re in need of some literary suggestions.) I for one devoured the book, oblivious to the real world waiting outside my room.

And I find myself now at a loss for what to do.

There are books out there that, despite their lack of subtlety, leave you reeling afterwards. The conclusion was by no means a shock to me and yet I sat in a still silence for almost an hour afterwards, not sure what to think or say, unwilling to break the web that I had spun around myself. There can be a delicacy to the atmosphere that a book leaves behind when it is closed for the final turning of a page. It’s as if the author is trying to tell you something, a deeper truth that goes beyond the facade of the plot he/she just dragged you through. And as I listened to the silence, one word formed on the edges of my brain:

PASSION

It was, I think, the main drive throughout the book. Passion can lead us to the very extremes of what makes us who we are. It can be the spark of love that ignites in our soul and stays with us for all eternity or it can be the motive behind a brutal crime. It drives us to crave human company for alone we are reminded that we are just a shell in an empty house. It was certainly the incentive for the protagonist to fly around the world in search of the man she had loved for twenty years.

Is it passion, then, that lurks in our hearts and aids us in every action, every choice we make? Do we delude ourselves into thinking we are in love before we really feel it? Are the first tendrils of love simply a rollercoaster ride of joy that tricks us into thinking that this is ‘The One’?

I don’t know the answer for everyone. But for me, passion is essential to survival. It is the will to live and sometimes the desire to die. It may be the spark that reignites a lost love but it is also the flame that keeps it alive. It is what drives me to do the things I love in life and take pride in what I accomplish. I am who I am because I embrace passion.

Passion whispers to me in the last silence of a closed book.

 

The Hunger Games: A Review

Now, I know I have previously declared a glaringly obvious love for Harry Potter and I also know that that is a rather predictable love. But usually, I am not one to follow the latest hype. I like to believe that I think outside the box, choose the less popular option and find something much more private and beautiful and mine. There’s an intimacy, I believe, when you find an unknown literary treasure that you don’t get with any other art form.

But then there were the Hunger Games.

Cue the hundreds of statuses on facebook; cue the familiar book cover obscuring the face of every teen on the local bus service; cue your every friend condemning you for not reading them because they are just ‘sooooooooooooooooo amazing.’

Quite frankly, I found the pressure crippling. So I caved and tentatively crept on to the ever expanding band wagon.

And found myself an overnight addict.

They may not be eloquently written, they may not be as intricate as more mature novels, but at the end of the day, the story is gripping. I surged through all three books in a matter of days and found myself pondering them for hours afterwards.

To me, a good book calls to something deeper within you than those surface feelings of rage or happiness, romance or war. Like a sponge, we absorb the secrets of the characters, the dilemmas of the plot. And at the finish line, we discover that along the way, we gave up a bit of ourselves to it.

Surprisingly, the Hunger Games joined the collection of the few tales that affect me in a way I don’t entirely understand. I felt inspired and scared and exhausted all at once. It was wonderful.

So give them a read. For those of us too proud or timid to try, pretend you’re reading it as a favour to your child or sibling. For I promise that if you do…

‘THE ODDS WILL BE EVER IN YOUR FAVOUR.’