Richard Pierce

Richard Pierce – author, poet, painter

Life, Writing

Day 34

I just threw a cough sweet wrapper at the bin. It missed. That’s just about a metaphor for my days. Yesterday, Ren wrote about having ideas and almost immediately forgetting them, and that’s what my flying wrapper missing the bin is – I wake up and know what I want from my day, stand outside smoking and think up great ideas, and then I get distracted and miss my target. And there’s no point me trying to carry a small notebook or using my phone to make notes – the ideas would be gone by the time I got out the book or the phone; most of the time. My mind jumps from one thing to the next without pausing. I think it’s the result of living at a million miles an hour right now. Even when I’m supposedly sitting down in the late evening just to watch something mindless to slow me down, I end up doing other stuff. Maybe multi-tasking is bad for you.

In my lazy and less inspired moments, I think I’ll just fill this empty space with old poems, never used and never seen, so that I’ve got something to say, even if I’m struggling for thoughts, or if I’ve wandered around in the massive void that is my head for so long that I’ve forgotten what I was looking for in there, but, thankfully, I’ve agreed with my selves that such a course for action would be cheating. After all, this is about creating new material, not recycling stuff that I’ve written when I’m not the now me. The aim isn’t to produce something good, but just to produce something. That’s what I’ve always said to the children – that writing isn’t about being able to produce something great every time you write, but that it’s actually about writing lots, overwriting, so that when you do go back over it, you’ve got some good bits you can pick out, or that, if you’ve been writing for long enough to warm your brain up (there are some people who hate the analogy of the brain as a muscle, but I don’t care because I think it’s a valid analogy and you can’t necessarily create from cold) something good will come out of it.

T, my sister who’s in Australia at the moment, sent me a quote last night in a message. I thought it was a really articulate bit of thinking that she was sharing with me – and then I recognised it as part of my blog yesterday. It’s very strange looking at your own writing with someone else’s eyes; and then you suddenly validate yourself rather than needing external validation – if that makes sense. She said she was thinking a lot of the same things as me, and it’s odd that many of my friends seem to be doing the same. It’s like we’re all living the same life right now. I think it has something to do with us being in this ever-repeating cycle of this pandemic, where time is endless because the same thing is happening over and over again with no conclusion in sight. Over 500 deaths in the UK reported yesterday. It’s shocking, and yet restrictions continue to fall. What? Politics over the health of nations. The Ukraine issue is the same thing. What’s wrong with wanting world peace?

One thing about this daily experiment is that it forces me to confront my realities in a way that distances me from them by one step – no room for self-pity or being maudlin. In poetry, especially poetry that no-one will see, or writing a journal that no-one will see, the thing is that you can very easily and readily start feeling sorry for yourself. You forget the context of the world and only see the dark narrow room you’re sitting in. Putting my thoughts out here is almost like talking to a therapist because I’m answering my own questions (just like my therapist would guide me through a maze of thoughts) before they even reach the foot and a half across to the screen. And that’s a good thing. On my walks, I often (not as much now as when I was having therapy) have my therapist in miniature sitting on my right shoulder having conversations with me, asking me the right questions so that I can think about what I was feeling and put those thoughts in their proper place. One thing therapy taught me, probably the most important, is that I’m not the only one who has mental health problems, and that alone gives me such comfort and takes away a lot of the pain.

Someone once said I should be called the King of Tangents, because I always go off on tangents. This morning’s piece has not become what I thought it might become; I’ve gone off in some totally different direction instead. That’s not a bad thing. It’s a good thing. And it means I shouldn’t tame my mind, I just need to learn to ride with it and not be afraid of where it takes me. And if I forget 80% of my ideas along the way, I’ve still got 20% of them, and they are probably the most important ones.

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