House of Anxiety [Flash-Fiction]

I recently came across this phrase in a book I read: “Should she be rent by this anxiety?” and maybe the author didn’t intend it in the way of renting a house, but it just inspired me all of a sudden, because aren’t the symptoms of mental health a lot like paying rent to a house you don’t want to live in? It just entirely summed up the feeling for me, of being stuck in a commitment you never chose to be in and yet having no way out of it. And so I had to write this. Maybe some of you will understand it too.

I’m stuck in this house and I don’t know how to get out. I don’t know how to move and I don’t know how to survive. When you’re stuck in this house, walls are shaking, doors slamming on good thoughts and it’s hard to stay sane. It’s like I’m paying rent to my suffering. It’s like I’m giving up parts of my life to a game.

When I walk through this house sometimes the rooms are nice. They have a TV to keep me distracted and a comfy sofa. The curtains block out the worries and it’s a peaceful space. It’s almost like a home. But then sometimes the rooms aren’t so nice. Sometimes they appear to be and then the walls are stripped bare of wallpaper. The colour goes and the blankness fades in. It becomes an empty vacuum. In that moment, I can’t pay rent in belongings. I don’t have any belongings that are worth enough. The rent is too high now. It’s getting higher. One day I’ll have to give over my entire self.

For now, I’m walking in and out of all these rooms and the doors slam behind me and the chimney howls. The voices from the TV are drowning out my thoughts but not enough to dissolve them. They simmer.

And I keep paying rent. I keep paying rent for a house I don’t want to live in and I’m fed up. I’m fed up. But there’s nothing else I can do. Maybe one day I’ll find a secret doorway and it’ll lead me into the sunshine. Maybe one day I’ll find a way out and I won’t come crawling back. But I guess I’m scared that if I ever leave this house I won’t like it. I don’t like it here but what if I don’t like it there either? What if I end up in a different house and I pay rent to another suffering – grief, heartbreak, anything that life throws this way. Maybe I’ll end up in a house double the size. Maybe I’ll end up with double the rent.

Do I stay and pay the rent or do I go and risk the future?

Or maybe the only way to survive is to buy the house.

Accept it.

And own it.

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A Man Filling Rubbish [Repetitive Writing]

Yesterday in my creative writing seminar we discussed experimentation and one of the things we looked at was repetitive writing. I’ve never tried it before but thought I’d give it a go and share it with you all in case you want to try it too! (and let me know if you do because I’d love to read it)

Figure standing by the dustbin reaching down, lifting up, filling rubbish. It’s a Sunday morning and he’s filling rubbish. Into these bags he’s reaching down, transferring objects, transferring energy like a battery. He’s standing by the dustbin filling rubbish and it’s just him – a human battery transferring objects.

And then behind the wall, standing by the dustbin, but on the other side, a shadow looms. He’s not filling rubbish. He diffuses the battery. Hood up, he emerges from behind the wall and sees the man filling rubbish. It’s Sunday morning and the shadow of a criminal is not filling rubbish.

The man reaching down, once a battery, looks up into the light to behind the wall where the shadow looms. A golden tooth shining from broken teeth, transferring light, transferring energy. He stops filling rubbish on that Sunday morning and watches the man whose shadow looms, who isn’t filling rubbish on that Sunday morning. He has taken the energy of his battery. He grabs the bag of rubbish, reaching down, and runs back behind the wall.

The rubbish man reaches down for no rubbish left to fill. He’s run out of energy – his energy has been stolen. But by his feet lies the golden tooth, shining from the broken pavement, a symbol of his theft.

Reaching down, he picks it up.

There will be no more filling rubbish on a Sunday morning.

Hood up, he walks away.

His shadow looms.

simmering. [poem]

that feeling

simmering

I can feel it at the

pit of my stomach.

I don’t know what it is but it’s

what causes these tears,

this gulp of depressive air

followed by days till revival.

and I wish I somehow knew

how to disperse this simmering

noise

but my head is so full of

everything

too much

too much of everything

and even after a good day

it sometimes won’t

calm down.

Why Do You Read?

A while ago I shared a blog post about why we write and I thought to follow this, it would make sense to write one about why we read.


Here are a few quotes that inspired this:

“‘You identify with the characters; you feel as if it’s your own heart that’s beating beneath their costumes.’… ‘Have you ever had the experience…of finding, in a book, some vague idea you’ve had, some shadowy image from the depths of your being, which now seems to express perfectly your most subtle feelings?'” Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert (p75)

“…this drama is not fiction or romance. All is true. So true that everyone can recognize its elements in his own circle, perhaps in his own heart.” Pere Goriot by Honore de Balzac (p2)


From these, I particularly love the idea of your heart ‘beating beneath their costumes’. A lot of the time we read as an escape, but I think more than anything it’s a way to find people who understand you. I love that feeling when you read something and it’s exactly how you feel, or is put into words so perfectly that you’re just like aaaa ( because there is literally no way to explain this feeling in words).

The idea of fiction being all true is also an interesting concept. If the author has written something from the imagination within his own head, which I suppose is made up of the amalgamation of past experiences and emotions, then isn’t their work real? Or even if not real, isn’t it in some way the truth?

When we write, as I’ve said in my previous post, we often subconsciously let out our inner thoughts. If this is the case, then no matter how exaggerated or fantastical a novel of fiction is, the underlying concepts are actually the undertones of the author’s brain. It’s the author’s truth – it’s wrapped up in lots of wrapping paper like pass the parcel and as we unpick and analyse and uncover each layer we will eventually get to the root of it all. And if the truth isn’t the root of it all, then what is?

Some may wonder why we would even want to read about other people’s truth, but I think that’s the most interesting part about it. We want to read other people’s truths because how else will we ever understand? Reading seems to be the closest way of getting inside someone’s brain without actually opening it up and hopping inside. And why would you skip on that chance? Because knowing how other people feel is not only a comfort if we feel the same, but it is also intriguing and insightful and we learn more about the human race than we ever would otherwise. I’m sure those who have good knowledge of books know far more about other people’s worlds and their lives than anyone who hasn’t. It’s a kind of experience you can’t get through anything else. Reading is so much more than just reading; it’s a whole other world inside your brain.


Recently in creative writing we have been talking about ekphrastic poems (= vivid description of a work of art) and my attempt at one closely links to the subject I’m talking about here, so I thought I’d end on it:

Related image

When I read over the words it was like I became a character of the page, a person born from the author’s mind, popping out of the cover. I had all these words glued to my skin – they weren’t mine, they couldn’t ever be mine, but I felt them like they were. I embodied this body like my body ceased to be. And when I saw someone else like me, popping out into this fantasy land, I took their hand, because I couldn’t let this go, no I couldn’t let this go.

I looked up from the pages and smiled at the guy with a book in the corner.

We were unknowingly connected.

Art – Do We Ever Know What We’re Creating?

A while ago I left a comment on this post talking about art and the act of creating and I guess you could say that inspired me to write this now.

It’s weird because as a writer, there’s loads of ways you can go about writing, although the final result is somewhat the same. Sometimes you take a prompt and write from there; sometimes you create a whole character or world before you start; sometimes you just write off the top of your head and see what happens. I think the latter is the most interesting and that’s mostly what I’ll be talking about here.

A lot of the time I have the urge to just write out of nowhere and so I frequently write with no prompts and just see what happens. It’s always strange because as I’m writing it, I don’t really know what I’m saying; I don’t know what anything means, and I’m not entirely sure if it’s the portrayal of my own thoughts or not. However I feel like a lot of the time we are subconsciously aware of what words we are spilling onto the page all along. Whether we realise it or not, they are probably manipulated versions of our own thoughts; things we’ve buried so deep that they only seem to reappear when we accidentally dig them out.

This has happened to me quite a few times. I write stuff without meaning to say anything and then on reading it over think, oh is this actually how I feel? And it’s kind of like writing helps me learn things about myself that I’m not willing to accept or admit in everyday life. It’s kind of like therapy.

And sometimes writing does become exaggerated. It’s hard to draw up a line between imagination and reality when we’re unsure of our own feelings. But whether they’re real thoughts or not, the process itself is still important. It’s still a release in some way. The escapism of writing is what matters most of all.

Whenever I feel the urge to let something out or explain it in a way that normal words can’t, I turn to writing. And that’s what art in general is all about.

What kind of art is your escape?

Do you ever know what you’re creating?

it’s just not quite… [poem]

Eyes darting across the room

Thoughts thrown at targets

And scored up in my head

They’re clawing at my head

And I’m clawing at my head.

That strange feeling of alertness in this

Defeated exhaustion

*caution*

Head turning

Eyes leaking

Too alive in death.

And it’s all heightened like a flame

Ignited in my head

And I’m going crazy

That’s what I said

In my head

Last time

That’s what I said.

And now it’s here again.

Rubbing arms as if to

Shed my skin

To not feel this

Drawing in

Drawing in

Gulps of air

To break the mould of a

Natural life

It’s just not quite

It’s just not quite

Normal.

Unwanted Air [Flash-Fiction]

He screamed through the air – the air inside the chambers of his body. All this breath sucked in and now he didn’t want it anymore – he didn’t want to have to hold so much. His throat throttled by his own mind he forced words into the air – god, he had to kill off this unbreathable air – until a noiseless scream became the end of his path. If the air was full of so many syllables perhaps they’d be no space for anything; conversations running through earphones wired up to an iPod of life. Start the playlist. No time to pause. No time to breathe. Eventually it would end.

But he screamed through the air – this time through real air. His mouth opened and out poured all these words, all these wails all these conflictions that were inside his head. And he could finally breathe. God, he could finally breathe. Earphone wires hung from his teeth as he pulled out the words that were ringing in his ears. Now, the iPod lay by his feet. The second brain he never wanted lay by his feet.

He screamed through the trees, no longer stuck in his own body. Words were crushed beneath his soles and he walked on leaving it all behind, the fizzled out sound of music replaying on broken wires.