Wednesday, 4 November 2015

Writing about not writing: The Now

This blog is for writing. And for the past while, not much of that has been going on. I am reminded of this every time I check Facebook which informs me "Your fans are missing you, Catherine Ann Minnock." Well I'm sorry, fans, such as you are. In addition, Twitter--where only my penname resides--became rather panicked and asked me if I had changed emails, which I'd imagine is the social media version of British Gas sending you angry bills and trying to confirm you are "still at this address".

 Like much of the internet, this blog is not a true reflection of my life but rather a mere fragment of a fragment of a pen-name. In actual fact, there has been rather a lot of writing going on.

Writing of emails. To my Student's Union about the society of which I appear to have become co-founder and co-president. Less interestingly but no less frustratingly, to HMRC about changing my tax code.

Writing of essays. Formative work that is supposed to "form" and shape my further, important work, but for which I am not allowed to use anything related to my further work, because Literature is helpful like that.

Writing and editing and correcting of articles upon articles for my student's newspaper. Tentatively, I wrote my true opinions last week and tried to incorporate everyone's view and not just the most popular at University in my piece. As a result, there wasn't the angry onslaught I'd expected (or hasn't been as of yet), just a lot of people with various viewpoints congratulating me on my balanced, "forward-thinking" writing. One more step toward the whole thing becoming a bit less scary, I feel.

All in all, creativity and quality of writing are becoming less curtailed by an innate need to be liked. Not because I no longer have that need (though as I grow past adolescence into the pseudo-adulthood that is student life, it has begun to wane somewhat), but because I am more open to writing and creating what others may not necessarily agree with or enjoy. I no longer feel that one blog post, article or  indeed essay gone awry (like an example described by my seminar leader last year as "borderline offensive") isn't going to ruin my entire life or career.

Art grows and changes just as people grow and change. What I write now will probably not reflect who I am in five years' time--in fact, I very much hope that it will not. But I feel at this stage I am old enough and unwise enough to be able to look at things I have made and think, "I do not feel this now. But I felt it legitimately and completely at the time, and it was recorded and shared... and if just one person identified with it or took something from it, then that means at the time those feelings were worth writing down. They were relevant and worthwhile."

I probably won't say that. I'll probably just say, "Oh, God, CRINGE...", or whatever else passes for appropriate slang in 2020, when I no doubt will be just as down with the kids as I am this very day.

To dismiss things now because I may regret them, or not feel them again, or change my mind, would be like burning every photo of myself in case I later decide I don't like the haircut I have, the clothes I am wearing, or the friends I am with. For better or worse, we cannot just burn experiences.

So there's much more honesty now in everything I write: every email, every newspaper feature, and every zine produced as part of my publishing society. In fact it's toward zines (printed prose and pictures for me, all sorts for everyone else) that a lot of focus from this blog is sadly being diverted.

My current project is an interesting one. It's about my body and how I have felt toward it--and in a way you can't get more honest than that. However, note that I use the words "have felt". There's a lot of emotion in this project, from being persuaded to think negatively about my appearance at quite a young age, to being alarmed about what my body can go through, to a rude awakening that when it comes to what I should and shouldn't do with my body, sexism and oppression are alive and well.

I'm finding writing what I felt rather than feel is quite a difficult thing to do. It's hard to remember sensations along with events, hard to remember quite how affecting everything was when "grown-up" me inevitably plays it down. Which is why I suppose this is important: me, writing, now. Whether it's just a Facebook message to a friend after a long day, an article I felt apprehensive about publishing or even this rather chaotic blog update, it is all mine. It is how I am feeling. Now.

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