Thursday, 9 January 2014

Filthy Writing

[Today's snippet of new prose grew out of a writing exercise: one of the triggers on last week's Write Invite competition was 'New Page'. With just 30 minutes to write and submit my entry, this was the first thing that came to mind.]

I write like I've never written before. The words pour out of me like grains of rice on the day Sally knocked over the jar. Then, we watched in horror as the contents spilled across the table, cascaded over the edge and spread across the slate tiles in a pool that grew without stopping. There seemed to be too much to get back into the container. We couldn't believe so much mess came out of such a small space.
Now, I watch, as though unconnected with the process, as words spill from my pen onto the smooth white page. Words I have never said out loud; words I didn't realise I knew.
This can't be me writing. I write nice stories. Stories where good people have sad things happen to them, but overcome their problems and get what they deserve in the end. Stories where bad people do terrible things, but to no avail; where the villain gets his come-uppance in the final paragraph. I tell people browsing through my books: "there's nothing in there you couldn't show to your maiden aunt." I write stories I wouldn't be ashamed to show my mother - and that she would be happy to read.
So where does this filth come from? This anger, this rage. It flows from me in torrents; like the torrents of water that rolled down from the moors, swelled our stream, broke the banks, engulfed our garden, and then burst through our doors and windows. It is red; red like the Devon mud; red like the lights I see behind my lids when I squeeze my eyes shut against the devastation.  Red, like the blood I imagine flowing from every orifice when I hit the insurance company operative who tells me there's no-one on duty at seven o'clock on a Sunday morning, and "can I call back tomorrow?"
Gradually, as the days pass, the flow slows down, the number of words diminishes, the language becomes cleaner. I look out of the window at the stream, chuckling in a 'butter-wouldn't-melt' way over the stony bed. It too is clean once more. 
I take a deep breath, turn to a clean page in my notebook and start to plot my next story. But just occasionally, I glance back at the earlier words and wonder if maybe, just maybe, some of them might be useful.


  1. All writing contains something that can be useful! There is some lovely imagery there (and I can't help sympathising about the insurance person) I entered the same comp - really to try to stimulate my writing as I have done so little. It didn't get placed but was given a 'came close' which was heartening! Hope all the flood damage is sorted out without too much pain.

  2. Thanks Lindsay. Our flood was in November 2012 and we finally finished 'project dryout' last May. At the time, I wrote thousands of words expressing my anger, frustration etc and then distilled it all into 1200 words of calm reflection, which won me a prize in a local competition last week. This piece came out of the blue - and is reasonably fictional - I didn't really wish to do physical damage to the insurance people. I've being doing Write Invite for a while, not regularly, but when I feel the urge to practice free writing. Well done on your 'came close'. Ex