Do the thing

Hey there readers!

This is my 150th post at body, remember. This little project that started with a tag line – all the things we remember to forget  – and a post about endings:

body, remember blog

My very first post at body, remember

… or earlier still, when I sat up in bed one morning struck by the idea for a novel where the lover dies on the first page. Or earlier than that morning even, when I fell into mad, true, ridiculous love for the first second time and the world turned into a mass of metaphor … and not a little pain. Or before that. Back when everything starts – as a kid, lost in my head, wondering about life and love, and quietly sure it was going to be something bigger for me.

Rock and Teish

My co-conspirator, Teisha

Why do we write? Why do you write? Anais Nin said it is to taste life twice. I think it is as much to taste something new, to explore the life not yet lived. Or perhaps just this life, differently. As a kid I rode horses, and I would spend hours wandering around the countryside and my head, creating a new character for my favourite TV show or picking up a story thread from whatever book I was reading at the time. Taking what I knew – and pushing it further. I never really did have an imagination. Just curiosity and a heightened empathy for the human experience. And always, always that desire for something more.

Why do we stop writing? That is as much the question. I have drawers full of notebooks, scribbled lines and crossed-out confessions, but for the longest time I could not get past these beginnings. I wanted everything I wrote to be perfect. And so I stopped writing anything at all. I wanted what I wrote to be beautiful and fully formed from the start, I wanted to write like Anais, or Alice Walker, or Jeanette Winterson, the women whose words could break me apart with their impact. And because I couldn’t approach their genius, I wrote nothing.

Until body, remember. Until the exercise of writing this blog. 150 posts in and everything is different now. Or back to what it was when I was a kid, riding my horse across that wild Antipodean land and turning everything into a story. I write every day. I write imperfectly. I write the occasional sentence or paragraph that I’m actually proud of. I write to tell you something. I write to tell myself more. I am inspired and frustrated and committed. I’m a writer. I am a writer!!

And that book idea that struck me in the chest all those years ago, well it is finally here. For all of my readers who have watched me make my way toward this, I wanted to share the first 15,000 words of body, remember with you here:

body, remember cover

Link to the first 8 chapters: http://authonomy.com/books/55304/body-remember/

Aaaaaaahhh! I cried yesterday when I put it out there on Authonomy. Maggie Valentine and her story that started off as mine, but became that something (so much) more. The novel itself is nearly done, it now features three strong, passionate female characters (and one dead lover!), and as I edit the existing content I’ll put more of their stories online. I had to take a deep breath and do it. I was ready.

Which brings me to the point of this 150th post. Do the thing. That thing you have always wanted to do. That thing that has followed you. The ‘if-only’ thing. The ‘next year’ thing. That project, that dream, that desire. Do the thing!! Start. Start now in fact. Because to start is to change every thing. And you never know where that beginning can take you. The story really does expand. Once you’re in it. Once you are doing the thing.

Oh! And if you are going to fall in love – make damn sure it is a love worth writing about 😉

Thank you more than ever for coming along for the ride xxx

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Warning’s fair. I don’t care. Very much (a declaration of independence)

I made a list of things that have changed in the stretch of time since I saw you last. A top five in some-particular-order I thought you might like to know. In the desert certain things grow – so here goes. Here’s what you haven’t heard in the millions of seconds since the tick tock of you and I.

For one – I’ve grown my hair. I got rid of that Amelie bob you liked so much. I went all Blue Lagoon in fact. Long and lush, and messy. No more sharp angles and coy fringe.  No eyes cast down – then up – peeking out from behind a veil.  When I toss my head now people have to make way (it should be no surprise you liked it best contained).

Brooke Shields, Blue Lagoon

I think we have the same stylist.

And two – I’ve gotten fatter. I know – I’m supposed to get fit and fabulous, right? I’m sure that is # 2 on the standard list. But I spent years trying to look better than someone else – to just be me. So I’m filling out my own skin this time. A little extra flesh to feel a little less …diminished. It goes with the hair I think. I’m suddenly full to over-flowing. And very rarely hungry (I imagine in another time with my curved belly and hand-full hips I’d be good for Picasso‘s dream at least).

The Dreamer, Picasso

The Dreamer (and me) by Picasso, 1932

Number three – I’ve gone part-time. I’ve sort of stepped to the side and let everyone else keep running their ragged race. And as they heave and puff their way up the corporate ladder I’ve slid down the snake of sleeping in and pouring wine. Can you even imagine? My ambitious friend! The house I’ll never have, the ceiling I’ll never break? Oh, I’m as aspiring as ever, but the dreams are all mine now baby (I could almost bottle them).

Wild Rock Bublitz

Spilling some Wild Rock

Cause number four, love – I’m writing. Yeah! I’ll say that again. I’m writing! See, all the words got stuck in my mouth when it ended. We used to talk every day, remember? And when that stopped my mouth filled up with everything unspoken. So many words crowding my tongue. They over-flowed and dribbled down my chin, and the only way not to choke was to spit them out. I captured the words in my hands and as they siphoned through my fingers the trickle turned to flow.

Turns out that fucking writers block was you in fact. Renouncing feeling so I wouldn’t explode, silencing the questions – that was you. It all got trapped in the tip of the pen and I scribbled blank pages for years. Now I’m covered in ink.

body, remember blog

body, remember
Image by Joanne Piechota, words by me

When I think of how much I used to say – I suppose nothing was new and remarkable in the end. Even my declarations of love were lost in the rinse-repeat. Eventually we were just like any other couple, ironically. Words as wallpaper, covering up the cracks and revealing nothing.

And now I’m all cracks and splinter, and I’ve never felt more beautiful in the light. So lastly on this list of things that have changed …

If you go, or if you stay. Warning’s fair. I don’t care. Very much.  Either way.

(if you kiss me … if we touch …)

Eidyia’s Note: I wrote the above piece almost 18 months ago, 3 months after I ended the relationship that inspired body, remember. I remember the tentative fierceness of that period, how I was angry, and sad, and triumphant all at once, and how the words just kept coming. Every night, sitting up in bed with a glass of red wine, leeching the feelings out through my fingers. As a creative period in my life, it remains unmatched. Now, now the writing is work – the best kind of work of course, but work nonetheless.

18 months later, everything has changed – and for the better. This is the genius of life – it renews and revives no matter how often you forget that it can. I’m going to write more about this tomorrow, but wanted to re-visit this early declaration of independence, today.

Thank you as ever for coming along for the ride xxx

The art of beginning

This weekend I am celebrating the three month anniversary of my blog. I am celebrating because for the longest time I truly thought my writing would not go beyond a walk to work composition that disintegrated by 9am. I took seriously the well-meaning teacher who once told me I had a talent, but would lose it if I didn’t use it (in that peculiar way of human beings I forgot the praise and memorised the warning).

Until I was so afraid of the words disappearing that to stare at a blank screen would fill me with a kind of terror. Sentences would trail off after the first flash of brilliance gave way to a cursor pulsing on the screen. Alone on a page, the beginnings of ideas languished in different drawers for years.

These sentences now appear all over this blog, sometimes at the heart of a piece, sometimes hidden amongst the other, stronger ideas that have grown up around them. Because 3 months ago I just started to write. To write like I used to as a kid, to write like my mind composes on those walks to work. To write like I had never been told I had talent, and to write like there were far worse things to lose than something you had never used.

Two things triggered my quantum leap. A dear (and exasperated) friend told me to stop reaching for perfect. And a dear (and exasperating) relationship came to an end. Two wake up calls on the week of my 35th birthday.

Stop reaching for perfect – the relationship ended, the blog began. Stop reaching for perfect – the blog began, the relationship ended. In every beginning an ending is written. One of those sentences isolated in a drawer until I typed it out on a WordPress post and offered it to the gods in exchange for the mending of my heart. I started with small truths, my eye on the bigger ones, and I followed the trail of breadcrumbs I’d left for myself all these years without even realising…

We shall not cease from exploration
And the end of all our exploring
Will be to arrive where we started
And know the place for the first time.

TS Eliot, Four Quartets

And someone followed after me, then another and another until there are now a merry band of us travelling along together – writers, photographers, painters, philosophers and agitators who in three short months have become my community. All an inspiration, and in your company the story of body, remember is finally starting to emerge.

I had sensed it in images just beyond clear vision for so long, and through writing every day I have come to understand this is how I first meet words. This is why I talk with my hands when I type, why I’m always reaching (but no longer for perfect). I see words, I feel them, and eventually they let me write them. So now when the cursor blinks too long I just shut my eyes and let the image form in my finger tips, or if it’s really stuck I go for a run (this is the best way I’ve found to make the words chase you!).

In the spirit of imagining, for this three month anniversary, I have borrowed from a wonderful post by Wendy at “Live to Write – Write to Live” and had a friend design me a book cover. Something to hold the spirit of the story. Here she is in all her moody glory (the image is as ever courtesy of the incredibly talented Joanne Piechota):

body, remember

It’s not ready for a book shelf yet, but it looks great on my fridge. And it reminds me that the work has begun. There is a story of a young woman who loves a man who died. There is a story about all the things she tries to remember – to forget. There is a story with the first sentence:

I am watching the coffee stain my fingers as you lay dying in the street.

There is a story I want to tell, and I hope you’ll stay with me in the telling!

And to the one who inspired this story, should you ever stumble across these words, I can honestly say – hand on heart – that I warned you a thousand times:

Careful or you'll end up in my novel body, remember

(I  do thank you for the hardest, and most beautiful lessons).

What we call the beginning is often the end. And to make an end is to make a beginning. The end is where we start from.

– TS Eliot, Four Quartets

To the purveyors of a little kindness

To the purveyors of a little kindness, a thank you.

For the salve soothed over the crack and splinter of a day alone –

The love heart swirled through the froth

The change left in the ticket machine

The concrete canvas of a city scribe

The boxes ticked and forms sent (the woman running for her train because she spent a minute more making sure)

The door held open, the smile and nod, the which floor for you, the like your shoes 

The here – take two, the thought you’d like, the have a seat, the after you

The footnotes left on midnight posts, the taking time to say me too

– These teeny, tiny affirmations. A human sling for broken bones. The glaze on my mosaic heart.

(For everything he failed to do. I thank you for guiding me through)

Photo courtesy of the You Are Loved Chalk Message Project

A couple of human slings should you need to support an injured part:

You Are Loved

Operation Beautiful

It Gets Better

Before I Die