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The End Of The Affair (Quote)

I loved this film, beautifully filmed and devastating. This scene struck me in particular.
Sarah:
Love doesn’t end, just because we don’t see each other.
Maurice Bendrix:
Doesn’t it?
Sarah:
People go on loving God, don’t they? All their lives. Without seeing him.
Maurice Bendrix:
That’s not my kind of love.
Sarah:
Maybe there is no other kind.
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Pacify

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It is the fierce strength

Taking off your soft, sweet armour

This delicious pacification

To wrap yourself in surrender

To trust to me

To set you free

Trembling as my hands part your thighs

Kissing the wounded places

That made the armour necessary

We are wrapped around one another

A rough hand

A kiss

A bruise as a badge of courage

A passport to a point where

You are aflame

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Ribbons

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Let me tie

Lengths of pearlescent

Ribbon around

Your nipples

A gift of goodness

Needing correction

Bind you with the

Outstretched limb

Surrender

By degrees

To my rough authority

Be set free

By your submission

I know how you ache

Twisting with want

My stinging blows

Thanking me

After each strike

I see into your darkness

And find not demons

But darker,sweeter angels

I come to free them

And bind them to your service

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Two Pages(13/10/16)

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The two pages this morning were solid, the back and forth of the relationship between the protagonist and her mother has been a quiet source of pride for me in capturing both the narcissism and it’s impact. I know a few narcissists, and I hope that I have done them proud. It also allowed me to go and revisit the earlier part of the book for reference, which is something that always makes me feel especially competent. I love it when I read it, a reference to something that you experienced as a different person but now seen in an entirely different light. What was text becomes subtext, and what was subtext becomes text again.

I used the quote above, because so often, strong emotion is seen as impediment as much as inspiration. Either in using your art to resist it, or explore it, in the same way that you would handle fissionable material with proper protective materials. All emotion is energy trapped by a thought, and our emotions are layered, they form traps and barriers as well as they do weapons. If I have said hurtful, dismissive things then it has been because I have felt hurt and dismissed and in it’s own way, it’s to continue a severed connection, usually to something that felt real but turned out to be illusory. James Baldwin once said –

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However, and this is where I lose the literary cachet and respect that the last paragraph might have garnered from you, I like to use emotion in much the same way as the subway scene in Ghost shows. All your love, your hate and focus it to the tip of your finger and then push. Sometimes it’s exhausting, like pushing a penny uphill with your nose and I am well aware that I am touching on ‘woo’ here but stay with me. If you can get it out of your body, then that energy goes into a page.

A sentence.

Three words.

I love you. Sometimes from the same person, that can lift you up like taking flight, then in a different context, you no longer believe them and it feels like a date stamp, a meaningless gesture and you feel betrayed that they would use that. Now you can say that word in any number of ways, and have it mean any number of things. Words have a utility beyond imagining, it’s why I love them so much. It’s why I built a blanket fort out of them to hide inside when the world is too much to bear.  It’s not the same as throwing yourself into your work, because no spreadsheet can ever comfort you. It’s a distraction but art/writing etc is where you can take what is useful and discard the unnecessary parts.

People do that to one another all the time, and artists are above all else, people.

In other news, I am now free to finish editing the rest of Until She Sings. After a tangential introduction from a former acquaintance, I am going to bite the bullet and invest in Pro Writing Aid, as a nifty bit of software on annual subscription which illuminates my flaws and sends me into spasms of fearful anguish at my appalling grammar. It’s an investment I will make in myself, part of an ongoing reinvention in order to keep pursuing my goals. There are no more notes coming from the agent now, as they said that it would be repetition of points already sent and fortunately, I have already done a solid run through so it’s more pruning and weeding than digging for the last part of the book. If this is to be my first published book, and I cannot say, because as much work as I’ve put it into it, it doesn’t guarantee me of anything at all. The work is what will last long after I have gone. I am not afraid of rejection,  just don’t enjoy it and having experienced it, professionally and personally, I would rather focus on the professional rejection because I can do something about that. Art harder, as Chuck Wendig said.

I also pitched Lawful Evil and the new untitled book, which will be a personal work expressed through metaphor, names changed to protect the guilty and all that but outlined and informed enough that I can talk to the agent about it’s veracity. Things are moving faster, my cultivated self image and ambition is reaching escape velocity and good things are happening.

Ten thousand joys, ten thousand sorrows.

Thank you for reading.

 

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Two Pages (11/09/16)

So, the pen sketch yesterday was useful, and it reads well so I may keep it but I’ve moved things on in order to get to the next set of beats/scenes in order to start bringing together the A and B plots.

When I use these terms, it’s borrowed wholly from Story and The Story Grid, in which you have the following:

The External or A plot is where you have your external conflict and action go on. Explosions, bullets, external events and forces that challenge and complicate your characters. The object of desire for this plot can be the recovery of a magic item, the defeat of a monster or the uncovering of truth.

The internal or B plot runs counter to the external plot. An example McKee gives is ‘Out of Africa’ where Karen Blixen rejects the notion of ‘owning things’ in order to save her soul and identity. It’s what lies beneath the surface of the character, notable by it’s absence in the likes of James Bond, although the Craig-era brought with it, the existence of it in terms of his ageing, the usefulness of his methods in an age of drones and open source terrorism etc.

Now, they don’t necessarily have to intersect but I think that they should because it adds emotional weight to the piece, especially if the successful resolution of the internal plot offers up an insight, an ally or a realisation that allows them to demonstrate the traits necessary to see through the resolution of the A plot.  From even thinking about these, you’re thinking from a point of how to sell, or even pitch your work to people who don’t care about the thousands of hours you’ve put into it, your cogent argument for the inclusion of adverbs. It might take away some of the delight and whimsy you find in writing, but that’s a good thing. I thrive on being a productive adult, not someone who expects a standing ovation because I’ve written something. My concern is with my work, it’s quality and potential because that’s the only thing I have control over. I don’t write for the marketplace and trends because they change. That 50 Shades meets Harry Potter you’ve been working on, posting sentences out of context because the need to be seen to do it is more important than the actual achievement? It’s going to look flat and lifeless if it doesn’t burn like a UTI with your passion and investment in it. It’s not the sloppy, uninformed passion though, it’s the application of it. A sniper round rather than a shotgun. You can, and will write mess but you don’t have to share it. Show us the trick itself, not the endless hours you spent learning how to perform it without flaw.

There will be passion and magic invested in it. I’m open about the points where I write and it’s wonderful, but amongst that are the days you get it down on paper with the same passion that you brush your teeth or shave. Do you brush your teeth passionately? Should you? No, you do what is necessary then get on with your day, you work on improving your technique so your gums don’t bleed and you do it without thinking about it.

The results are there in your smile.

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I Will Continue

Clouds break,

Smudged light emerging from

Between them

I stand and lift my face upwards

Apart from everything

But open to it regardless

I built a suit of armour

From my words

But there are still

Fresh scars underneath

Yet within me

Lies a beast that knows

Pain only in the abstract

No one tells you

The world is only interested

In what you can offer

But you learn it

To the bone

The storm will pass

The sun will come out

I will continue

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Drawing Poison

When you are poisoned

By doubt

I am the cure

The snake bit deep

But my lips form a tight seal

And slowly, wantonly

I suck the poison from you

This ritual to cast out

Anxious demons

My strong hands

Wrapping, pinning

With each thrust, each blow

I cast them out

You will know my strength

Shooting stars against the sky

Of you, burning bright and brilliant

I am a fucking animal

Strong enough to bend the bars

And break free

They cannot cut me down

Only your touch calms me,

But you don’t want it to

No puerile notions

Of sensitivity

I have learned, in small doses,

To build a tolerance

To the poison of mewling defeats

And yet your lips

Form as tight and sweet

A seal

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Raise your shield high

Silence has a weight

Texture

A rock worn smooth

By time

A delicacy as raw silk

Sliding over my rough, dark hands

Inside,

The screams – outrage, pain disguised

As signals of virtue

I stand askance

My path takes me through

These places

Once walled gardens of enthused discourse

Now the flowers drip blood

I hold my own counsel

Keep making my art

As though casting a suit of armour

Against the fragile, vicious beasts

Within

Without

My silence is my shield

And I raise it high

I raise it high

 

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Deep, Full, Brave

My fingers brushing
Oils against
The tenderest canvas
A playful patience
Flirting with the
Delicious risk
Pouting orifice
Bloom beneath
Each careful application
As sunlight caresses
Supine in
Generous surrender
An unconscious resistance
A tingling shower
Of delightful
Fullness
A play as focused
As surgery
These rebellions
Without a banner
To rally beneath
Other than
Explorations
Powerful as explosions
And despite the
Apprehension
Circumstance
Has you pushing
Urging
My firm, calm touch
A safe comfort
To test how
Far
Deep
Full
Brave
You can be
And what capricious
Courage
As we take flight
From the tangled neuroses
Telluric in taboo’s soil

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Mother

“Our mothers always remain the strangest, craziest people we’ve ever met.”

Marguerite Duras

 

Niamh tilted her head to one side, eyes narrowed as she brushed her fringe from her brow.

‘I didn’t catch that.’

Eleven years old and standing on the stairs, drawn by the thump of the bass and the raucous, slurred conversation. She had been on the verge of tears, worrying about being too tired for school again. Her mum, sloppy with drink and grinning at the sight of her.

‘Come and join the party,’ she said.

He gave a skittish smile and gestured over his shoulder.

‘I’m sorry about your mum’.

She rolled her glass in her palms, regretting that it was empty.  She glanced around the room, tried not to grimace.

‘Thank you’.

Dad kneeling in front of her, trying not to cry, trying to explain. Sometimes a man and woman don’t stay married, even if they really really wanted to. He paused and kissed her on the forehead. He would see his button again soon, he promised.

He did promise.

‘Thanks Uncle Paul’.

He leaned forward and kissed her on the cheek. She caught the rich, peaty fire of the whiskey on his breath and did not say anything.

‘Give your uncle Dave a kiss’.

She squirmed  fighting the urge to run away.

‘He’s not my uncle. Paul and Sam are my uncles.’

‘Fran, she’s a bit old for that, love’.

She turned and hissed at him, the smile had gone and her lips are pulled back over her teeth, eyes on fire with a rage that strikes like a snake.

‘Stay out of it’.

Todd came up and put his hand on the small of her back. He kissed her on the cheek and she rested her forehead against his temple.

‘Thank you. I don’t know what I would have done without you today’.

He grinned and pointed to her empty glass.

‘Couldn’t have been that good, you’ve got an empty glass’.

She passed it to him. A gargantuan, shuddering rush of appreciation went through her as he went to the bar.

‘Bloody hell, Fran, stop it.’

Walking through to the bedroom, seeing Dave in his white, saggy underpants, hand pressed to his cheek and the blood seeping through between his fingers. Fran stood there, half of a broken ashtray dripping in her right hand. The white shagpile gained another stain to join all the others.

He came back with a glass of wine for her and she told him that she was going outside for a cigarette. He tilted his head to one side and watched her expression without saying anything before he kissed her again.

She lit up with shaking hands and inhaled. She looked out at the evening sky and raised her glass. She took a deep swallow of the wine and brought the cigarette to her lips, chasing the wine down with the smoke.

It tasted of relief.