The chair is plastic, masquerading as wicker. The chest of drawers doubles as a desk. The Android phone replaces a laptop, which passed away last year. The furniture isn’t even mine; it comes with the single room I rent, in the house I share with an odd bunch of single men.
Were it not for five things, this would be a sorry lot, for an impoverished writer. Those five things are:
(1) A jam jar full of pens.
(2) A pile of writing pads.
(3) The view from my window.
(4) My imagination.
(5) The Place and Memory Kickstarter.
Red Kites ride the wind outside. They stop me in my tracks, whenever I see them. Sadly, they appear to be out of place, in this council estate. They soar the skies, above the Supermarket, the Poundshop, the Job Centre, the Pawnbroker, the discarded shopping trolleys, and the litter-strewn subway.
They share the breeze with seagulls, pigeons, thrushes, starlings and magpies. I see the seagulls, and I think to myself, it must be stormy out at sea; despite the fact that I live 70 miles from the coast. I see a single magpie, and I salute it; hoping another will appear.
A self employed painter and decorator, who I’ve hated since I was young enough to drink underage.
An NHS worker, who tells me that our Solar System has a second sun, and that our planet will be destroyed in the Summer; when we spin in close to Sol’s sister.
An unemployed, sanctioned drunk, who slips out in the morning, and staggers back late at night.
Finally, there is Harry Potter. That isn’t his real name; but he wears glasses, so it is what the others call him. Harry Potter is afraid of the toilet flush, so he leaves his bodily wastes in the pan. Every morning, the postman rings the doorbell. Harry Potter buys a lot of things from Amazon, and we sign for them, because Harry doesn’t answer the door.
Then there is me. It has been less than a year since I plucked up the courage to publically call myself a writer. I write poetry; some of which shared an award, with the other Place and Memory artists. I’ve written a screenplay, which is going to be directed by one of my Place and Memory collaborators.
My main ambition is to eke out a living with my writing. I’m not bothered about fame and fortune; I just want others to read my words. For as long as I can remember, I’ve wanted something published, on paper. This year, I will achieve that goal, thanks to Place and Memory. I want it to be good. I want it to be interesting. I want it to sit on a coffee table, rest on a bookshelf. I want it to be looked at, and read.
I sit at a chest of drawers, on a fake wicker chair, with a Tesco writing pad, and a Poundshop Gel Pen. I look out of the window, and I see a Red Kite soar. I’m reminded of Jonathan Livingston Seagull. I’m reminded that I am a writer. Writing is a solitary activity. Publication is a team effort.
I love my fellow Place and Memory artists. We set out together, we struggled, we supported one another… and we succeeded. But we couldn’t have done it alone. We had our mentors.
Now, we put ourselves on a virtual market. I like Kickstarter. Two of my writing heroes have used the same crowd-sourcing method; Clive Barker, and Alan Moore. Neil Gaiman is supporting his wife’s Kickstarter. I feel I am in good company. My hope is that we reach our target. But if we don’t, at least we tried. At least we called ourselves artists, and offered people the opportunity to support us.
I want to include a photograph of one of the Red Kites flying, but the camera on my phone isn’t up to the task; so I take a photo of “my writing station” instead, and compose this blog post. As I click Send on my phone, one of the Kites flies by, and I think… I know how you feel.
The Place and Memory Kickstarter campaign aims to produce a high quality publication featuring art and texts by the Place and Memory artists: Amanda Burton, Donna Coleman, Sarah Deakin, Charys Elmer, Sandy Holden, Lorna Johnstone, Morticia and Nigel Stone. This book will be part artwork, part record; a collection of interweaving lines in creative output and an expression of the progress each artist has made in defining their practices. For more information about our Kickstarter campaign and to pledge your support, please click here.