One morning I sprayed window cleaner onto my reading glasses so that I might see better through the usual smear of finger prints and collected grime, the build up of days of use. That morning the fog was out thick and crusty like dirty glasses and the air was filled with moisture, tiny invisible water droplets that together created a grey blanket shrouding the back yard in sorrow. Everything outside was wet to touch and the washing on the line would take days to dry.
This sort of moisture permeates the washing in ways a good drenching never does. A good drenching is in and out in no time, but a moisture soaked fog gets into the fibres of my sheets and stays there for far longer. It lies like a curse and refuses to budge.
I heard Craig Sherborne on the radio speaking of how he feels compelled to make sense of the details of his life and relationships by including whatever comes up for him in his writing.
At times he thinks this is fine. This is art. This is the only way he can write with authenticity, even if it upsets some of his readers who imagine, rightly or wrongly, that they find themselves described in his stories.
At other times he tortures himself with the unethicality of it all. It is reprehensible. He should not do it and yet he cannot do otherwise. It is his way of coping with his life. It is his passion, his obsession, his reason for being.
I struggle similarly to justify my writing, on the one hand as necessary as a means of coming to some greater understanding of the meanings of my life.
It’s all about having greater insights into what it means to be human, as Sherborne suggests, and at other times I thump myself internally for daring to write as I do.
Somewhere in here the desire for revenge pops up its head and insists on being counted, alternatively as a reprehensible motive for which I must apologise, at other times as a valid basis on which to build an argument.
Perhaps it is not so much the fact of the writing itself, it is the business of preparing that writing for public consumption. It is the determination to put on view to allow others to read it that both attempts to satisfy the desire for revenge and also shifts it.
Once the words are down on the page the hot feelings pass. They have entered another sphere. Perhaps they enter into readers who can now detect those yearnings in themselves through the vengeful one’s writing, or perhaps it transforms into something else, some deeper understanding of the human condition.
No wonder the reader might imagine, no wonder the writer feels like this, I would too. Such hurtful behaviour meted out towards them.
I, too, want to hit out. I, too, want to find some way of releasing that pressure as if from a cooker valve. I, too, want someone else to recognise my grief, and if in so doing I dishonour the perpetrators of that grief, if in the process, I get behind the veil of respectability of polite society, if in writing in this way I strip off the masks from the faces of those who would prefer to remain hidden, even including my own mask, then so be it.
I can always put it back on later, when we meet for polite conversation. But in my writing we are stripped bare of such false sensibilities.
Through my writing hopefully we can approach one another with honesty and integrity even if that experience causes one or both of us pain.