Idea number one hundred and fifty-two: Hold Firm

The limited one

Who’s listened and learned

And thought

In all manner of spiralling pathways,

Listing reason, rejection, and facts

And one hundred and fifty failures,

Leading to failure

Number one hundred and fifty-one,

Says: you’re just not good enough.

And chatters, chatters, chatters on.

Yet, the one unlimited,

Says: speak

For your voice

Is a voice to be heard.

Go on always forward.

Write with the wind behind your pen,

Unleashing genius upon the page.

Let your life flow in ink

For the joy

Of ideas metamorphosed,

Ideas grasped from realms ethereal,

Buzzing alive in your head

And conducted

Into the matter of the book

That will be read

If you but put your whole mind behind

The creation of it,

Knowing the limited one

To be a friend enlisted,

His chatter a misused tool

Not a hindrance,

His ideas, gold,

If only directed,

His creative urge

Your own wand

Through which the magic unfolds,

Emboldening your life

And the script you must be

To be wholly yourself,

Holding firm to the pen that you love.

Horrible Novel

My novel has become somewhat unruly. Until this morning, I hadn’t seen it for a couple of days.  Then when I came down for breakfast, there it was, waiting for me, crouching at the bottom of the stairs. But oh my goodness, how it had grown. It was at least seventeen times bigger than I remember and its mouth parts were out of all measure and proportion.

I must say, it halted me in my sleepy decent. I was a little confused as to what to do. Was I to brush past as if it were normal size and without huge fangs and teeth in their multitude. Or was I to flee, scampering up the stairs to exit through the bathroom window. In the end, it made the decision. For as I pondered my choices, it pounced.

Luckily, my martial arts have taught me much. And so with the agility God has favoured me, I ducked and the beast flew straight over my head. I saw its underbelly as it went in a high arc and my worst fears were actualised. Its gut was plump with far too many words and bulged with a peculiar menace. I estimated that it must be a hundred weight, if not more. A terrible thought entered my mind at that point: I had conjured a monster. I was Frankenstein, and this thing, my work.

As it flew over, I took my chance, dashed below and slipped in to the kitchen where I found two things: a broom and poker from my wood burning stove. With these weapons I charged in to the fray. And all was violent ugliness. It bit and scraped and hit out with a rank verbiage and a mouth so full of words. Yet I parried, deflected, spun on the axis of a dance made of martial arts and hopefulness, and for a moment thought myself to be winning.

But then it unleashed its poetry. Oh God, how that hurt. A thousand lashes of its rhyming tongue. A thousand passages of its disappointments. Its woes fired like missiles to strike me down. All that awfulness rolled in to one grievous assault. Its power knocked me to the ground. I was paralysed. And then, it sat upon me with its full weight. It was a ton at least. A ton of words. A ton of sentences. The whole unedited mass crushing the breath from my lungs. Surely I was about to die.

But no. From beneath I saw its weakness. Its binding was not well strung. In fact, it was still in its crapy little ring folder. I took the knife, that I keep in my pyjamas, and stuck it in the gap. The clasps pinged open; so full was it stuffed. And in a instant the beast was done. It disintegrated before my eyes. Pages spewed and fluttered in the air. The chapters shuffled like a deck of cards. The whole thing punctured and deflating as if it were composed of hot air and nothing more.

But when I saw it dismembered and pitiful, I couldn’t strike the killing blow. Instead my heart went out to it. I gathered up its limbs and appendages. I nursed it as best I could, applying hot poultices and wiping away its tears. I collected the spare words (there were many) and hung the sentences out to dry (they were wet with sweat). When I left it on the sofa, watching shit TV, it looked as close to happy as ever I’ve seen. And when I popped a warm blanket across its first page, for comfort and warmth, I think it almost smiled at me.

© Ben Truesdale and distilledvoice, 2015

A Wandering Poet

Today I fancied the life of a wandering bard and poet. And so with a spring in my step and the birds tweeting in the joyous air I selected my favourite knapsack, packed it with green cheese and a hunk or two of bread, some fine olives and a red apple, and slung it on a pole.

With provisions aplenty I went out the door, not forgetting my poets peaked cap, complete with a feather for inspiration. And of course I wore my best bard-ish jerkin, to keep me warm around the midriff and hopeful in mind. I went not empty handed: a book of plain pages clasped in my fingers, my quill expectant and quivering.

I strolled a good league before I met a (would be) patron in the village of Cowley. He leant nonchalant against a wall with fermentation thick about his person, a beverage loose in his hand. He smoked a Woodbine and had rummy eyes to see the world around. I thought him decent enough for a try of the rhythm in my mind. And so I said to him:

“Good sir, toss me a ducat and I shall sing a merry tune or write a rhyme in this book here, that once done will be yours for the keeping.”

And to this he said: “fuck off.”

“Good sir,” I said, “which ditch have you dug for those words that come tumbling, for I should have them for my book.”

And he said: “fuck off you twat.”

And I smiled and said:  “you sir, are a wit. I know it. You play with me as if I were a child. At first I thought those words were dirt, but you use them so well. They fall off your lip like watery cascade. They flow as nature’s voice in wind and breeze alike. Pray do tell me some more.”

And to this he said (you’ve guessed it): “Fuck off.”

And so with a salute and a smile I went on my merry way.

© Ben Truesdale and distilledvoice, 2015

Diary Of Cats And Novels

The idea for a novel arrived this morning. I was quite surprised. But I was more surprised when it burrowed through my mind and then crawled out of my ear, perching on the arm of the sofa, as natural as a young novel can be. It blinked at me and then, much quicker than I thought novels could move, scurried in to the next room. I tried to catch it but my fingers were quite stiff from not typing and my body co-joined to the sofa. When eventually I managed to pry myself off the couch I went to look for the little bugger. To my annoyance I found that it had completly disappeared.

I spent an hour looking around the skirting boards on my hands and knees, shouting out abuse for the sheer joy of being in a bad mood. I once lost a short story in the same way, only to find it cohabiting with a house spider under the sofa. I never managed to get it back and it lives there to this day, taunting me with perfectly formed quips and insults wrapped in spider webs. I try to ignore its outbursts but they are just so – to the point – and without the verbiage of self indulgence. Anyway, digression will earn me a sticky web on my lips if I speak a word of this out loud.

Eventually I found the little blighter (the novel) hunkered in a mouse hole, crying softly. Curiously it had taken the form of a squat lobster and had a pair of tiny but perilously sharp pincers for a voice. I have the lacerations to prove I am not deaf and my fingers smart: salt and cold sting hot. Of course, I tried to reason with it. And when that failed I whispered a lullaby and calm words, to tell it that I loved it just the way it was. But alas, the lobster was having a crisis. And no words of mine could bring it from its hiding place.

I’m going to leave it over night and hopefully the fresh new day will give it wings and the metamorphosis from skeptical, armoured idea to the plump, soft juvenile that it might just be. I really hope that the cat doesn’t get it in the night. So many fledgling thoughts have succumbed to that fate: gobbled up whole or left as lifeless gifts on my back door step, trouble no more but unfulfilled in their infancy, their potential dashed.

I might just feed the cat an extra helping of ice cream and trash tv so he is fat and happy and far too lazy to hunt a young novel on its first day. Lethargy makes a cuddly pussycat out of a killer, I find. And a full belly makes his claws retract so his hands are but soft pads and gentle mittens, and a flannel to wash his beautiful face.

© Ben Truesdale and distilledvoice, 2015

Writer’s Block

At first
It’s hard as metal.

Or is it
More like hard cheese

Or maybe butter
Straight from the fridge.

No,
It was left in the sun

And now
As silky oil,

Runs in rivulets,
Clarified and melted

To the yellow-shine
Of a different entropic state.

© Ben Truesdale and distilledvoice, 2015.