I've been hiding out in the Bard Gaffe this weekend, that is, when I wasn't being fed into tunnels at the local hospital and having radiation thrown at me. I'm writing a kind of memoir about life in the Eighties and this weekend seemed like a good time to get serious with it. Which I've done. I've produced about thirty more pages of the bugger since I left work on Thursday and I hope to do a few more tonight--that is, again (my life is full of that ises), if I don't fall down in the street when I leave the internet cafe and have to go to the hospital again.
You think I'm being melodramatic? Well, you're wrong. What I'm actually being is neurotic, because I take no grand dame (if that's the way it's spelled) operatic joy in the idea of being poorly. I'm actually incredibly bored by it. But you try falling down outside Waterstone's, of all places, and see how much you take for granted after that. Not that I ever have taken anything for granted, except, ironically, my health. But I digress. I thought it was going to be a witty digression too, when I started doing it, but reading it back it has a rather snide, challenging undertone, as if it's your fault, dear reader, that I've been unwell. It isn't, as far as I know. Nor is it mine, at least I don't think it is.
But anyway. The idea of somebody who isn't well-known at anything and doesn't have a hope in hell of ever being well-known writing his memoir might seem a bit bumptious (there's another word I don't know how to spell), but I'm not exceptionally bothered about the idea that anyone might think so. A life lived in minor key by an unknown man or woman will tell you more about the times than the biography of a celebrity. Their lives are essentially the same in every generation, even those of the greats. Watch Val Kilmer as Jim Morrison and then Ed Harris as Jackson Pollock. You'll see what I mean.
Someone was telling me a story about a childhood visit to Calais at the Bard Gaffe this morning, however, a person who is loved and cherished by her friends but who has probably never been on the cover of "HELLO" or won the Whitbread Book of the Year, and her story was enthralling because it was so singular. Not that she knew that. Once she'd told it she excused herself for being boring and asked for another cup of coffee.
So that's what I'm doing; I'm telling the story of the Eighties as I lived them because nobody else lived them as I did. I hope to inject a little artistry in there--I assume I must have learned something after all these years of writing and exposing myself to the works of the true greats--but right now I'm just concentrating on getting it down while time allows, using the language that passes naturally through my head. As Ginsberg says anyway, the language, like the memory, is singular to me so my art my even lie there, without any need for sprucing the words up afterwards. It may be that all I need to do when the book is finished, if I finish it, is take out the spelling mistakes and tighten up some of the sentences. Who knows?
I have five or six weeks of annual leave left to take from work before next April, so if my health holds up and I manage not to get sacked somehow (oh stop it Hodder, your mind is like an amphetamine-crazed mouse on a clanking wheel), that should be more than enough time to get the main part of the book done. Keep thinking like a writer instead of an over-the-hump care worker or a half-dead alcoholic and when Spring comes I should have a damn fine bastard of a manuscript ready for the world to ignore.