'Write what you know'.
This piece of advice is given, obliquely, to every aspirational author who approaches another. ‘Write what you know’, write your dreams, your hopes, what happened to you this morning that changed your life, what you ate for breakfast. I know it’s good, sound advice. I know it’s there to make life easier for people like me, people who have this instinctive urge inside them to push their thoughts out onto paper, a Muggle Pensieve you might say. However, how do you ‘write what you know’, when you feel you don’t know that much at all, at least, nothing of importance to anybody?
My life right now is humdrum by anyone’s stretch of the imagination. It consists mainly of pretending to revise for my French exam, watching old romantic comedies on Film4 and wishing I was some quintessential English rose who makes Hugh Grant blush, going over to my boyfriend’s house and arguing for half an hour over what kind of takeaway to get, and of course, that productive teenage pastime, sitting on Facebook and wondering if every bitchy status and wallpost is possibly meant for me.
Was life always this airily simple, this day-to-day routine of everything being seemingly easy? I think not. There were two periods, two and three years ago respectively where the most emo-ic poems were tripping off my fingertips because ‘oh god why does it have to be like this?’ and ‘everything is a fucking mess but writing about it will clear it up’. I look back at these poems now. Some of them are horrendously bad, the kind of fodder I’m sure plenty of sixteen year olds dash out in a haze of weepy eyeliner and the screeching sounds of Paramore blaring in the background- but some of them are surprisingly good. They hold the beauty of innocence in their clumsy metaphors, they comfort me in a way- ‘this was you when you were a little girl, now you are all grown up and you don’t need to write like this anymore’.
The truth of the matter is less rosy and romantic than innocence lost and yet another not quite 20-something who thinks she has grown up. The truth is, I write better when I’m fucking miserable. My best poems have come out of what a sixteen year old, a seventeen year old once described as ‘heartbreak’ whereas my nineteen year old self wouldn’t dare be as presumptuos as to feel she had a claim on that word. There are some poems about my mum, and how she didn’t understand me, and there are some poems about myself and how complicated I thought the world to be.
Right now, I can’t write these kinds of poems. I’ve tried and tried to wake up the mini Plath that lives somewhere in the left side of my brain, but she’s snoozing contentedly, occasionally murmering ‘I’ll get up when I’m ready, Vic’. I’m sure she will, I’m sure after some break up, or fight, or the day when I finally realize that adolescence has had its wicked way with me and rather than resurfacing with the body of Pippa Middleton, I’ve come out with the standard issue Finan tits, tummy and arse- I’m sure I’ll sit down with a pen and paper and write something beautiful again. I shouldn’t wish for that day. Not being able to write must mean I’m happy enough in life not to need the solace of my Muggle Pensieve.
'Write what you know'- I have, I am, I will.