And so

8fa7ef11adf2d3b87ad696b59559011aI’ve written a story about a man who likes to talk to a woman on the telephone. He knows that she’s in love with him, and he’s determined that he isn’t in love with her; only he likes to have her there. He makes contact with her, and he always picks up when she calls. But, when it gets too hot between them, he disappears – like smoke. I’ve been writing about this man, and not about the woman, and how his disappearance makes her feel. But I imagine it leaves her missing him. It’s easy for her to think at first that his retreat burns a hole in her life; only that hole was always there. While writing, I wonder what happens in the silence, the space between the words, the necessary pauses? She finds peace while riding a bicycle through busy streets; and he walks along the coast, lifts his face to the sun and closes his eyes, hears melody in birdsong.

I’ve also been writing about ‘the fall’. I say ‘the fall’ because it’s that important point a third the way through my novel. I’ve written numerous drafts, and thought about it over months. My writer’s group told me to think about it some more. They said, it needs to be treated with immense care, like the first incision of a surgeon’s knife. I’ve slowed it down, and have looked at it from all angles, from all characters, in order to fully absorb its catastrophe. This is what I love about writing: it’s often only through the process that one finds the truth of the story; what should remain is a feeling, an impression, all the hard work and thinking dug back underneath.

I’ve been rewriting my third novel into third person, and have cut about 20,000 words. Third person has given me a necessary distance, and allowed me to ‘show’ more, rather than ‘tell’, cutting back on the main protagonist’s internal workings, which had begun to feel suffocating. Now I can play with point of view, and have some fun. I’m enjoying writing again and getting a lot done. I always enjoy it, only sometimes my life doesn’t allow for it. Clarity fluctuates; when it comes and stays it should be handled carefully.

But the most pleasure I’ve had these past few weeks has been interviewing for my collaborative project on love/intimacy. Tara Darby and I have been invited into people’s homes, given tea or wine, and had the privilege of hearing innermost thoughts and feelings. So far we have interviewed and photographed a beautiful young man with his blind mother, two single mothers who co-parent their children, and a gay man and a hetero woman whose relationship is tender and true. We snapped the last couple together blowing bubbles in a mossy green pond. Tara and I are also going to interview ourselves, and look at why this project has appeal for us for uncannily similar reasons, and how we’ve grown through its process. At night I lie in bed and my head is filled with these conversations, and my heart feels as if it’s been caressed. I realised this week we must include ‘conventional love’, as those who stay happily together over years are perhaps the hardest acts to follow.

This coming week, I’m going to slip away to see Marina Abramovic at the Serpentine Gallery, and I will most likely cry.

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