Bibelots

a place for the curious

One line

Why do we do what we do? Why do we try?

Some days, I wonder why I write stories. Is it to get published? Yep. Can’t deny that one. Is it to be read and heard, and maybe loved? Oh, yes. But why does it make me ache if I don’t? This yearning for storytelling; it’s not about the endgame. It’s something else. Something deep. Something core to who I am.

I sleep, in hope of dreams. I dream, in hope of ideas. I write, in hope of story.

I write to tell that tale.

And now and then I send a story out there. Sometimes there’s feedback and it’s grand. Sometimes, of course, it’s a ‘no’.

Occasionally, a no is just a silence. A silence you can fill with questions. Is the time not right? What did I miss? Why do I even do this? Why persist? What makes me presume I’m good enough?

These silences don’t make for great days. But it’s part of being a writer. If you can keep pushing through it, you can go on. Some days that’s hard. But, I promise you, if you’re a new writer, this day too: it’s worth it.

On one of those less-great days, I allowed myself to sink into the words of another. This single line grabbed me by the shoulders and held me, breathless. Wouldn’t let go.

‘Their voices mourned every unfulfilled wish, every step they hadn’t taken and every unspoken word.’
– Marianne in The Little Breton Bistro, Nina George

Of course, that moment in Marianne’s life wasn’t the same as mine. I don’t live the same life as her; we’re not on the same journey. But those words? They got me. They dug into my heart and, oh, they burned. I needed them. These words about striving and regret and life. They tell you to not give up. To thrive. To go on.

I couldn’t turn the page. I held her book like a lifeline.

One line, she did this to me with. One line.

That’s why. That’s why you do what you do. To connect to someone and take their breath from their lungs. To shore them up and see them through a day. Or a moment. And not even know it. To just hope that what you write might, one day, do that.

We try because we don’t know what else to do. But more than anything else, we try because we feel the presence of others.

Somewhere out there, there’s someone like you. And they’re waiting for your words.

One day, just once, I want to do that. I want to reach out, like that, and find someone. I want to write those words and set them free. I want to find you and be there for you.

That’s why. I need to do this. I can’t not. And some days it’s hard. Some days it hurts.

So, what else can I do, but try.

Strong

a twisted roadsign, bent but not broken

Strong, bent, not broken

What you think it means to be strong, is not the same for me.

Where you might see softness, I can find strength.

Where you think you’ve found weakness, I can see depth.

If I can stand, I’ll stand with others.

If I fall, I’ll be okay. I’ll get up again. This bit I’ve got. That part is strong.

If you fall, I’ll try and help you. And if I can’t, I’ll stand by you.

Strength is not how you see me.

Strength is how I am, how I live.

Strong is not what you think. It’s not yours to give.

It’s mine. It’s me.

Mixed feelings

blank cassette

mixed music,
mixed feelings

Music is a gift. That part I’m sure of.

Hearing music, being able to play it, singing it beautifully or singing it as if no-one else exists in the world. Tapping it out, hearing it as you run your fingers along a fence, sensing it in the pulse of another. Feeling it. It all blends to a sweet and personal harmony.

Music is everywhere and it’s a joy.

But there’s a gift that I miss. Or sometimes think that I do. A package of music that’s had its time.

A million years ago, there was the mixtape.

You could make your own; tape recorder shoved up hard against the radio, finger hovering on the worn red record button, waiting for that song. You know the one. It kept you up at night, trying to remember the words. It made your heart ache, when it came on air. Or it made you want to dance. You couldn’t not dance.

An enthusiastic friend might gift a mixtape to you. A box full of the sounds they wanted you to love. Maybe they were trying to cure you of your poppy, synthy, electronic ways. Maybe it was so that you might one day fall for their kind of music, or even fall for them. I always fell in love with the songs, but it never cured me. A good mixtape could blow my mind. It opened musical doors. Hell, a great one could unearth entire musical cities.

There are different ways to do this now. Digital ways. Shared playlists, and radio stations that like to think they know what you want. The word mixtape has taken on its own life and lots of folk use it to mean the mix, not the media. But, for me, this hasn’t replaced what’s gone. It still does and always will mean a cassette with a wound up gift of sound.

I miss it, absolutely. But that’s not to say I miss the technology. I guess that’s it – what I’m not so sure of. Cassette tapes were thick with imperfections. They wore out. Got tangled up. Unravelled and jammed. Yet there’s a little piece of that imperfect mess that I long for. The last few seconds of the captured next song. The slow devolve of the sounds and words of your favourite track; your most adored bit of tape.

It doesn’t make sense that I miss this. At the time, it annoyed me. Drove me mad. Made me swear and throw things. All the same, these imperfections are what made those songs uniquely mine. No-one else heard these songs in the same way that I did. Not the same order, not the same quality, not even the same loss through overuse and over-love.

And that little nest, that non-robotic soup is, I think, what made this music last. I can still see my favourite tape. My favourite song. That friend’s handwriting. The day the tape broke. Too much heart, too much worship.

As the world around me seeks for more and more stylised perfection, I guess that’s what I miss. A little box of chaos, music and imperfect love.

Podlike: ripe with allusions

Mixed emojions

banks of red lights

Lighting a fire under the allusion of words

I dearly love The Allusionist and picking just one great episode verges on the impossible. Helen Zaltzman’s podcast always fills me with joy and while I can’t rightly say this is my very favourite episode, months later it does still makes me laugh. I find I’m still quoting parts of it to other people (my dear, tolerant friends).

I’ll be honest, when I saw the word ’emoji’ in my feed I was tempted to skip it and let the emoji snobbery have its way. This episode delighted and entertained me, and has now utterly corrupted me. I have acute and incurable premature emojulation. I suspect Ms Zaltzman would be proud.

The Allusionist is frequently surprising, subversive and powerful. This episode was an early, shining example.

‘this is a subversive commentary on text, because the text is all about how women are just there to be seduced; they’re just body parts. So she’s saying, “They’re just body parts, are they? I’m going to pick them and put them in a pie.”’

Helen somehow waltzes us around, through and towards a truly serious underlying issue. While the episode is supposedly about emoji, there’s a whole lot more going on.

The episode’s under 17 minutes. Take some time out and sit a while under the penis tree of language, allusion and emoji.


 

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