Monday, 29 October 2007

A BC Thread

Recently a Boot Camper asked, "Does anyone else get scared?"

He was asking about writing from the deepest parts, how scary it could be.

My first answer was: it's a straight choice. How honest do we want to be? How true? I am only happy when I feel my work is lifting a rug (5% of the time, tops)

Later said:

It ISN'T necessary to directly use your own experience, however painful, however true, or deep or "drama-worthy"

And if you DO directly use something, it's IRRELEVANT whether it's therapeutic, makes you happier or sadder

What matters is the TEXT and what it brings to others

It doesn't matter AT ALL whether 100% of Ballistics is factual, only that it's TRUE. It can be true even if it's 100% fiction.

When you use "your past", your own pain, your own memories, really, the THINGS aren't all that important. What's important is the feelings, and what the events whether directly or indirectly used, SAY, make us feel.

If I use a personal experience directly and try to stay "accurate" I will lose truth. The world and exact accuracy usually kills message.

And later:

Lots of these things are hard to prove, but think like this.

When "a little brown dog" starts glowing, some memory or link to memory, either some maturing part of you thinks it's ready to discover, or some older part of you maybe wants to relieve an internal pressure, BUT THAT IS JUST ONE THING (presume for simplicity)

I suppose it's possible that the conscious and unconscious brain between them choose one single item. one discrete memory, but is it likely?

My belief is that the more we right, the more we try to unfuzz our history, the more we "go there" (I mean in that drifting, available, state) the more things might start to emerge.

The idea that I might isolate ONE and one only (one that might "REFUSE" to ever come out) seems crazy.

When memories and ideas come make sure that at least the emerging tip is not lost. RECORD THEM ALL.

many things may happen her

Example you are imagining/believing that this memory of a squashed cat REALLY MEANS SOMETHING but last week you remembered a
snippet of a song, or an image of an old radio, or someone's shoes, or a car. I have no idea. MIGHT IT NOT BE THAT THE CAT WAS A WAY IN BUT NOT THE KEY? Might it not be that one of you "lesser" ideas/memories will, in the end be more important?


And later still:


Do NOT presume that all this "must be" an unearthing of your specific past.

It does not have to be YOU or something that happened to you.

Example. Imagine that once you saw, as a kid, a kid getting bullied. You vaguely noted it. It was "gone." Years later you also vaguely note that the kid committed a heinous crime or suicide, or became famous or rich (it doesn't matter). MAYBE you realised the two were the same. Maybe you didn't. Maybe you connected the two bits, connected the relationship, the cause-effect, maybe you didn't.


so a thing might be part of our personal history, first hand

a thing may be part of our history second-hand, ie seen and heard in others

a thing may be part of our psyche THIRD hand, a news report of the above, a book, a play

a thing may, arguably be part of us FOURTH hand, cultural, like "paedophilia" and peadophiles loom so much larger in consciousness these days than they did when I was a kid... or "save-the-planet" or back in the sixties-seventies the fact that most of us went round half expecting a nuclear holocaust.

So memories do not HAVE TO relate to bad or good things you did or had done to you

Now whether or not you have a Hannibal Lecter past or lived with Jesus and ate honey and ambrosia every morning and your shit came out in perfumed bags, you conscious and unconscious pick up EVERY DAY the subliminal links to millions, billions of incidents.

When you read Alex Keegan you read (somewhere in there) HIS past, some of his sensibilities. How much of Dickens' psyche lurks in the bowels of his books... so the more we read and write the more we slowly accumulate "pressures"

if you read a current-vogue book about someone being abused, read absorb, "forget" how do you know, even if your life has been perfect, that this little nugget won't be eating away at you colouring your view of possibly EVERYTHING until you die?

We have many lives now. We absorb from news, poetry, shorts, novels, plays, films, video, TV, the web, in a way people never dreamt of even fifty years ago

but note this... what tweaks you, what sticks with YOU, does so because you are particularly susceptible, receptive to that image or idea

THERE'S A REASON FOR THAT and that's why you have to take an instant snapshot of the "thing" put it on a whiteboard and keep it alive.

If not, if for example, your psychic guardians 'don't want you to know" it will be gone, probably forever in 24 hours.

Think of it as a little fall of mud outside a cave. Mark the spot before mud covers it up.

But remember that it is not "inevitable" that the event or memory or feeling energising this connection is SPECIFICALLY something that happened (physically to you). It might be a combination of things. You might never have been touched by the creepy paedophile from next-door who hung himself when you were thirteen, but maybe you heard his name once when you were out drinking with the office-girls and a childhood friend went white, you FELT.... but the group were playing X and now when you hear X you feel torn, twisted.

It could be anything (or nothing, just an accumulation of juxtapositions and pressures from images, words, ideas from your reading/watching.

If demons made someone write Silence of the Lambs, The Exorcist, Apocalypse Now and hundreds of others, what happens to US when we watch them (even if we laugh)? IF those writers were exorcising their demons (if) what do we absorb?


So... I access a feeling, a hurt. a memory and I write about something else.

Yes, that's one way. Often directly writing about something merely energises the defences and we get shut down, anyway. But if we can sense the ache-pressure-fear-disgust (or exquisite pleasure) and find some literary outlet that seems to reflect the feeling, it may well be that what we write will be suffused with the "power" of the partly-unearthed memory.

Say I had walked in on my mother fucking the neighbour and not only that but she looked horrible, told me to fuck off (and then extrapolate)

Yes it may be possible to one day unearth the actual memories and write about them as fictional or actual autobiography but often these writings fai because the memories are bitty and we obsess on the missing parts "wanting to tell the truth"

But if, from the feeling we write about a parent betraying a child, a FICTION, we then can use the pain we felt.

Later someone asked, about these recorded "cues", should they keep one warmed up, ticking over, or should they have many?

Of one I said:



I have many things on the go so the one that wants to can begin to fester and expand. Second two things or more may choose to interact.

Note the verbs. the thing wants to, the thing chooses

NOT the author

One BCer posted this:

It might be worth reading this article which Alex posted on the BC blog.

It came from the notes from a Kingfisher Barn course a couple of years ago, and talks about using half-memories:

and then

Note, I am not trying to write (or post) "perfect" articles. I believe that we don't learn so well from the perfectly-formed, but learn better from bits-and-pieces, spontaneous responses which generate questions and then, hopefully, answers.

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