Just now, less than 60 seconds ago, I decided to start writing this with the solid intention that I would post it, regardless of it’s state.
Less than 30 seconds ago one of the neighbourhood dogs began to bark. This happens every couple of days. The dog will bark and bark and bark, WHRUA WHURA then a break of maybe a second, then a quickfire WRU WRU WRU. A further second. WHRUA WHRUA again. This goes on for hours.
In the space of time it has taken me to write this – maybe 90 seconds, maybe less, my intention has gone. Evaporated. My space has been invaded, my inner resolution breached. I’m on edge. I can feel the tension in my shoulders. My spine. It’s a running joke-not-joke with my partner that my shoulders are ridiculous. Even when I’m calm, relaxed, comfortable, my shoulders still feel like they’re halfway to breaking. Now? They feel like elastic ropes, bungee cords at full extension. Without melodrama, this is how I live. All the time. A bag of constant switchbacks and flickers.
Halfway through writing the word “shoulders” above, I’ve turned on my speakers to drown it out. This week’s blanket of choice is Detox from Skepta’s recent album Konichiwa. It’s not loud enough, I can still hear things. But I will never turn up my speakers any more because then I know that parts of my music would be audible through the walls and floors of my flat – and I would be inflicting my noise on my neighbours, which is something that I am constantly conscious of.
I’ve gone and got my iPod now. The same track, just plugged directly into my ears. When I click play, the song is already playing – I’ve been using this track a lot this week. I don’t even love it that much. It’s good, but not that good to me. But it inhabits just the right headspace and feeling (in tone, not in lyric). In addition the bass-booster in my headphones brings out a particular bass loop that grinds out across the track, and it feels like the aural equivalent of tying a black bag over my head. (In a good way, if that wasn’t clear.)
It’s been five minutes since I opened the browser. Maybe ten? I’m trying not to look at the clock, or I’ll start to time-track again. I can feel myself getting frustrated because I’ve already forgotten what I wanted to do when I first started writing – I was typing the words in my head as I sat down, but by the time my fingers hit the keyboard my thoughts had moved. And I can’t stop typing, or won’t start again. I’m trying not to edit this. I’m trying not to sound melodramatic. I’m also trying to not get into self-looping trains of doubt, and I’m aware that by typing these words, I may be failing.
I’ve remembered what prompted this post now. I was halfway through reading Paul Dean’s On Poverty . when it blurred over into this. I suck at writing. Which is to say, I suck at doing the writing. In terms of quality, I think there’s some value to what I’ve written – some value for me, some value for others. My issue isn’t with that, it’s with the act of writing. A couple of years ago (which in itself is horrible to write: it’s been two years, what the fuck have I done with that?) I started forcing myself to write. It was prompted by reading a section of Terry Pratchett’s Slip Of The Keyboard. A book I have yet to actually finish. Somewhere along the way I started this blog. I’ve no idea when – and I don’t want to stop writing this to go and check, in case I can’t hold onto the will to write in the mean time.
So, started writing. Then started posting some of that. Then someone actually read some of that – something I’d never considered the ramifications of. Skip forward, and I’ve actually written some things that people I don’t know have read. Skip again, and now I’ve done something legitimate – which is to say something I got paid for. I’ve written an article. For a website and everything.
Without decoding all of the above, without unpacking and explaining all of it, I can’t tell how understandable it is, how communicable my message is. I know what I mean, but getting it across to someone else is hard. Even though this isn’t being directly written for anyone else. Let’s rephrase – I know there is a message, a feeling – I know it’s there, because I’m the one feeling it, thinking it. But pinning it down in language, in any kind of fixed structure, is hard. Like trying to grab snakes in oil.
My initial thought today was to try and hammer out A: that I suck at writing consistently. There may have been a B.
And as ever, starting is (comparatively) easy. Wrapping it up, making it meaningful is hard.