Telling Tell Tales

On finding inspiration from listening to other writers. And tea. And occasionally, from intergalatic itinerant bees that have flown through Will Self’s brain and discovered at least two new forms of mucus and confectionery previously unknown to man. Or ear.

I went to see, or rather hear, Courttia (Arvon tutor, writer and the only person I know so far who has been able to comment with any authority as to the plausibility or otherwise of getting away with murder – at least in Shepherd’s Bush, anyway – and the answer is more likely than the BBC would like us to believe. And let me clarify that Mr Newland was in no way involved. He just hears things, you know?  And no, not ‘hears things’ in that way, at least as far as I know) read at a Tell Tales gig last week as part of the London Literature Festival at the Southbank.It was an interesting show – six writers, each very different – some ‘performing’, others simply reading, but all accompanied by incidental or atmospheric music.  I’m not sure what I was expecting, but somehow it wasn’t what I saw / heard / listened.  Which, I guess, is half the point.  Listening to them was a very different sensation from the first time I’d heard professional writers do this sort of thing – less than two months ago.  I sat there, centre row and centre back, and burned with the itch to be up there.  To be telling my stories.  To hold the audience.  To take them on a journey.  And lead them to Hamlyn.  Or was it from Hamlyn?  The Pied Piper seems such a quaint idea in the age of twitter.  Perhaps I can tweet people’s children into some kind of cash trap.  Sigh.

What I enjoyed most about the evening was the voices.  Not literally, in the sense that a lot of authors are not good narrators, but literally. I particularly enjoy the different rhythyms and language used by the non-English authors.  ‘Bosom-friend’ in particular will stick in the noggin for a while.  But what’s really fun about short story events (or courses, for that matter) is simply listening to things told from an entirely different point of view from things I would normally read.

Afterwards, nice things were said all round, and I could feel the fire in my eyes, like a writing djinn.  I guess duende exists in a lot of cultures.  And in fairly typical Ivan fashion, I have managed to write about five words since.  I wind myself up into a state of inactivity – a coiled spring in a broken watch.  And so I’ve wasted a good eight hours of my life watching a timer count down so that I can get virtual energy refills in a pointless game on Facebook, that serves as nothing better than a reminder that if life is really a popularity contest, then I simply ain’t going to win.  And it’s not a game, really – Mafia Wars, like many of the MMORGs, is really a new form of soap opera, a collaborative experience we share and mould to ourselves.  Ergo, a pointless simulation of real life, when real life is right outside your front door.  Disney or the Evangelical Right should get in there – it’s the modern fairy story, the fable of our times.  It’s a really simple teaching tool.  Anyhoo.

And my lesson is that I’m too bloody old for this kind of tomfoolery.  Particulary when I should be dealing with the other kind of Tom Foolery.  My one reader will remember that approximately 78 billion months ago I left Tom hanging, a phone call unanswered.  Perhaps today is the day he’ll answer. Or perhaps the moon will open up and reveal a spectral elysian flower, that in turn lures hypergalactic itinerant bees to cover the moon’s surface in a dust of epic pollen and parasitic mites that glow a spectral blue, bathing the newly midnight world in milky shadows and menace-laden humming.

Ahh.  Not the intergalactic bees of mass-spectral-distraction!  See?  You know what it’s like?  It’s like being stuck down a hole.  A hole that you have to roll yourself out of, like a human skateboard or something.  While weighted down with your own expectation.  And wearing the wrong kind of shoes (sorry, in-joke there).  A sisyphean task, if that is adjectivable.  Yes, you can tell I read a paragraph or two of young master Self at the weekend.  Anyway.  Nothing worth doing is easy.  So I’m led to believe.  And at present I appear to be very easily led.  Perhaps I need some water.  Yes.  Some dirty water please.  Water with just the right balance of particulates, alkaloids, crystalline glucose and perhaps a digestivus biscuitus.  A nice cup of tea and then some serious nonsense.  And remember kids, tiredness kills.  Characters, plot, metaphor and maguffin.  And you can’t level up when you feel like it.  Beginning, middle, end.  But mostly beginning.  <smile>

Enough.  Tea.

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