xxii

Tonight I write with Gunny, properly, for the first time. That’s the typewriter. The name suggested itself.

I’m impatient to get started, partly because I don’t want my keenness to be dulled by the evening passing, but also because I have a problem. I’m thinking about other projects.

The poem is real, it is in me and I can bring it out. The process has been hard but it’s also been very rewarding, only the toughness of the last – though successful – session I think sent my brain working on other areas. Also writing the last few posts and what I’ve watched recently has motivated me to get on with other projects. With stories.

I’ve also been thinking about the poem as a story, or a play, or a film… I haven’t focused on poetry. I did briefly write what I’ve been calling a pseudemo ballad for W2B, and had a lot of fun writing it and… ah, but there we have it. I had fun, it was fun to write. At the moment, I’ve managed to make the poem not fun.

But actually, and following up on last night’s entry, what Gunny offers is a way to prevent my inner editor from having free reign on my developing thoughts. At the moment I can stop, go back, delete and try again. And it’s a journal so sometimes I’m going to go off in the wrong direction and want to turn back, because it’s pure train-of-thought. But when I’m writing or when we’ve been talking I’ve held back, editing in my head, which has been tiresome.

With Gunny, I have to commit to a word. There’s no delete, and though you can overwrite to create a messy splurge of ink impacted on the page, the crucial thing is that I’m going to be writing the words down and actually getting them out of my head – where, if previous experience is anything to go by, the good will thrive and the weak will die. Writing with a typewriter means I can create something which expresses how I’m thinking, without holding it back, and yet feels finished or, like these entries, somehow published.

I can go over it and redraft, of course, but that’s what works best. I can edit to my heart’s content once I actually have something there in front of me to edit. But importantly I’ll have rummaged around in my imagination and made it work, rather than giving it a half-hearted prod or have merely sat waiting for it to throw up the right word or phrase, without much effort from my end.

I’m dividing myself from my imagination, which is daft. And that’s why the typewriter – though I only realised it in the last few days, after I actually started giving it a try – has got me so excited. I’m feeling the anticipation at seeing what’s going to come out, seeing where it’s going to lead me. Which is why I’m thinking so much about stories, because they’re unknown, they’re new. The poem is familiar now, still wonderful, but I know it.

Except, of course, I don’t know it. I’ve only mastered the knowing of part of it, very surface, otherwise I would have finished it, would have ploughed on with it bursting out of me. I think I know it, which is where the lack of fun comes from, but in actual fact I’ve just deserted it, abandoned my responsibility which is to examine and delve and push and pull and make it what it can be. What it will be.

Again, Gunny comes in. I have a slight affectation with the typewriter, but this is no bad thing if it gets me and keeps me writing. I’m going to sit down and type lines until the page is complete. Then I’m going to feed another page, and another, until I’ve written out what could be the poem. Then I’ll have somewhere to start, and won’t have restricted myself to one scene of what is an exhilerating arc. Then I’ll really enjoy the poem.

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About Ben Catley-Richardson

Writer, reader, husband. Father!
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