Apparently there’s a look to it. A kind of half-smirk, with a stare that’s a bit glazed and hazy, a tilted head. To me, it sounds like the face of a fox terrier with chewtoys on its mind. But my friend calls it the Poemface, and has stopped asking me if I’m okay.
It was only fairly recently I realised that when you’re writing, you’re almost on two planes. That you’re both in the world – walking, working, talking, living – and so intensely elsewhere all at once. That you’re sitting somewhere in the back of your head, turning ideas over and over again and fixating on an image even as you’re moving through the physical, touchable world. You always forget to buy the milk.
Some nights I’m too excited by words to sleep. Some days I would like to punch the computer, except I’d lose all my pirated movies.
I love listening to the way that people speak, how their language reveals so much about the things they take for granted, about circumstance, relationship and space. The way certain phrases can rat about in your brain until you can’t remember anymore where you found them, or what they were originally intended to mean.
My brain starts to feel stiff and flabby when I haven’t had time to write, as though it’s a very real kind of exercise, keeping everything strong and toned. Better co-ordinated. And it can be every bit as exhausting too; a brisk and thorough writing session can leave me physically tired, yet strangely exhilarated.
I love that you never know where you’re going to end up. That what starts a poem off is often simple or small, but then kaleidoscopes out into something startling and strangely refracted. Which isn’t to say that it isn’t always incredibly hard work. Or that it isn’t slow going. I wonder sometimes why people assume that writing must be fun.
Coffee helps. Wine doesn’t.
So many of my friends are writers. The conversations are strange, intensely focused and playful. Loving the same books is as telling and as binding as having mutual friends. You can always tell when you’re going to get along.
I can make anything I want; I can destroy it too.
Fiona Wright’s first collection of poems, Knuckled, has just been released by Giramondo.