Finding the Start Line iii

The Inner Child

This is number three is a series of nine posts focusing on ways into writing.

Many writers from Vicki Feaver to Paul Muldoon, from Jeanette Winterston to Maya Angelou till the soil of their childhoods for seeds to water. Our early experiences of world, learning how it works, where we fit, witnessing the vividness of new places, new people and new sensations all inform our sense of being, now. They’re still woven into our muscle tissue, be that in our limbs, imaginations, responses and perceptions.

In this way they are deeply potent and infinite, and, of course, infinitely fascinating to us. The trick is making them interesting/relevant to others, but in considering them as a starting point we don’t need to worry about that here. That is the job of the editor…

Focusing down is the trick. Specifics are important (as always).

If I’m using this method, I like to mine the ultra hot stuff: the secrets, rules, sensations… I’ll think of a secret I had as a child. A rule I had to adhere to. A safe place. A fearful person. A favourite taste. An unpleasant smell. With this palette of memories I’ll then decide which one resonates most strongly to me at this moment in the present. There may be more than one. Whether it’s one or two (no more than three) They’re the one/s I go with in a fifteen minute sustained free write…

David Hockney says we see with our memory. I like this marriage of past and present. How else can we write about the past but through the flter of the present? Just as we cannot merely see without employing some other sense. Every memory and every moment is a mass of sensations and references that will well up into words on a page if we can hold ourselves still, silent for long enough.

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