Writing Workout (90min bedtime/morning) – Honesty vs. Truth

Todays workout is a bit unorthodox, I had a really intense weekend starting with a good friends memorial at a church I find quiet traumatic to be in and and ending with a two day carnival extravaganza with a bigger crew of people I love than ever before. It was a very intense journey and as a result yesterday I felt quiet vacuous and unsure what to do with myself, before bed I found myself knowing I needed to write but reluctant to do so aka YOU DEFINITELY NEED TO WRITE DEBORAH.

So I sat at my hilariously cluttered desk (covered in the various things I have thrown at it whilst running in and out the house this weekend) and just:

1. Wrote freely, honestly and without a care for sense of fact but instead honestly for as long as I needed to. No timer, though I imagine it was 10ish minutes till it felt like I had got what I needed to get out from my system. Then, went to sleep. 

2. When I woke up I set aside an hour (though it became 90minutes) to work wha tI had written into a draft of something, I won’t post the drafts because there is a lot of very sensitive personal information there but this really actually became the theme of the editing process. I wanted the piece to be truthful but I was conscious there were facts in there I either wasn’t comfortable sharing or it felt unnecessarily exposing of others to post. Here are some editing techniques I used to try and find the truth in chronological order… 

  • Expand on all imagery, colours, tastes, smells, textures.
  • Edit into 4 line stanza’s and each line must contain a unit of meaning that can stand a lone, as must each stanza.
  • Cut savagely – what is only working on one dimension?
  • Cut savagely – what in here are you not comfortable sharing, if not, why and how can this transpire in an image, smell, taste, be woven into an existing metaphor?
  • Step back, be a reader that knows nothing of this story and imaging the images/ sensory experiences of the piece as you read it- what can you cut, what doesn’t make sense, what can be compressed? + F*** the formal lineation and try something that feels more instinctive from the questions above.

 

This is what I was left with…

 

We Have Lost This Year

For Rob Anker and everyone else lost, 2017

 

Listen kids, love is a big red balloon, sadness is a small blue balloon

And happiness is a bouncy yellow balloon, etc. Simple, pure,

 

swiftly deflating and annoyingly easy to burst. In the grounds of a church

that held its own spire to my neck. Hundreds of us holding these hesitant orbs,

Will they float when we let go? I’ve written so much about him on the tags at the bottom.

 

My mum tells a horrendous story about two lesbians finding god

and getting a divorce, so they can live the law of chastity, because

they felt the hands of god (around their throats) I said I had never felt the hands of god

and she said but we know why that is, LOOK IT’S A MASSIVE MUSHROOM,

 

A BRACKET OR BEEF MUSHROOM YOU CAN EAT THOSE

and dad said he will have to take mums word for it.

So, we all stand with these heavy balloons as the convoy of grieving motorbikes rev.

A smoke alarm goes off in the chapel. When we let go, we point up at the sky,

watch the balloons struggle, a few drop into stranger’s gardens. But most,

 

eventually, get smaller and smaller and smaller and I don’t

want to put my finger down from the sky. In some other universe, city or time zone,

it’s Carnival, and a girl puts her hands around my past without flinching.

A man gives out free alcoholic ice poles. At 3pm we have a minute’s silence

 

for Grenfell Tower. we stand with our fists in the air, eyes down; paint, mud, gas canisters, confetti. We are slightly out of time with another sound system so towards the end

horns and hips start up again on an adjacent road until our MC has to speak

 

about a boy on this street who passed away this year, and give memory to everyone

/thing we have lost, and she hugs me so fast it as if (maybe) I was about to fall

 

or take off or burst and she needed to catch me

 

with unfazed fingers between the red, yellow and blue tassels of my dress.

That silent staggered minute growing smaller and smaller and smaller.

 

 

 

 

Writing Workout (30min) – Disruption as Opportunity

My mantra this year is disruption as opportunity, as someone that spends a lot of time planning, for a long time, disruption to that plan caused me immense anxiety. But at some point, I think it was when I learned about liveness in performance – the idea that if a crow were to fly on the stage as I perform my poem, I should acknowledge and incorporate the crow as apposed to ignore and fight it (because the crow was not in my said plan). I can still plan, edit meticulously, spend years on a poem, but actually if I want that poem to be delivered in an exacting way I can publish it or make a Youtube video but a LIVE performance is kind of about disruption, is a about a finite moment within which anything can happen. This shift in perception, that I stopped waiting in fear for something to go wrong and starting excitingly anticipating an opportunity for change, serendipity, surprise, growth has made me a much happier human and better creative. 

So, todays writing workout is all about embracing disruption which is kind of ironic because out of all the workouts I have posted with definitely went the least smoothly!

As always, I will be keeping dyslexia in every draft as evidence of my human-ness and also because sometimes they typos are more interesting!)

 

  1. Initial free write 10-15MIN – you can do less if you want of course but I actually needed this time. Write non-stop, no editing, re-reading etc. but every line must end with the words; but, if, cause, or no. (I actually stole this from Too Far, by Dizzee Rascal which I am currently analysing for my grime-poetry show). I find this so hard, I have actually kept some notes I made to myself in the free write to keep me going…

Freewrite

 

Sometimes I dance on speakers but

That doesn’t mean I don’t have a degree so

I also like reading poetry on the central line but

I can still listen to bashment at the same time but

That doesn’t mean you can touch me there cause

My body still belongs to me.

 

(stop telling Deborah start showing)

 

I’ve never been in a fight but

I did once smash a mans head against a speaker cause

He tried to grab my punananananoo cause

I was moving my waist freely and

Headstand on the speakerbox so

must be fine to grab ‘er up so.

 

I’ve never given anyone head but

A 6ft4 guy asked in a rave once, said I would rather lick the floor cause

I hate being backed into a corner when I just want to dance so

He said he could head but me sharp, so

I said cool give the police a reason to come cause

I’m tired of man having this mentality and

I can jump in your DM’s when I got a girlfriend cause

If you call me out on my comments but

What’s rong with you girl I was just joking yeah, so

If I screen shot this and send it to your misses yeah?

I’ll be a drama queen cause

I’m a feminist and even I’ll call a girl a slag cause

If I’m tusty, blusky, horney and

I can’t grab a man without feeling guilty but

I’m new to this but

People like to speak to a blank slate so

Girls toilets, Mac Donalds, Queue of Oceana so

 

(SKIIIRRRRRRTT – felt like this wasn’t going somewhere… need to gain some traction).

 

 

She’s next to the DJ booth but

She’s just laughing, face so open it’s like I want to walk in but

My hips are like that drunk toddler run; excited, unaware of space and vibrating but

Her eyes slice through people but

The whole room is usually staring at me but

But but but but but but, gender neutral toilets

GEORGE WHAT ARE YOU DOING

But me and George are kissing in the smoking area BUT

GEORGE YOU’RE GAY, but

George just felt like he needed to but

I did too and you curl up in the porch of your own house but

Both doors are locked and you are hugging your knees like a giant soft toy turtle that helps you sleep but you can’t sleep cause you are crying until blood vessles pop and there is so much red over your skin, colour shifting like a tongue under a hard boiled sweet and

They are inside, and they open the door, and they bend down to pick you up but you are too heavy they they have to squeeze into the porch with you and you feel like one of those glass boxes with all the Pixar toys in, one on top of another, waiting for a giant metal crain to try and get you but at least you have eachother, the softness of your bodies.

 

 

EDITING –

…. Keep what has weight

… if it’s too hard I just cut it (still got it saved in the draft above)

10min

 

2. Editing Phase 1  – 10min. I really feel that free write made no sense for me, so I needed an initial 10min just to read it, cut anything that made NO sense and expand on the images/ideas that felt fruitful for me. 

 

Sometimes I headstand on speakers but

I also read Heaney on the central line so

I’ve never been in a real fight but

I did smash mans head against the DJ booth cause

He reached for my punananananooo (or

phanoola as my god daughter calls it yeah)

 

I’ve never given anyone head but

A 6ft4 guy asked in a rave once, said I’d rather lick the floor cause

I’m tired on man having this mentality and

He can jump in your DM’s when

he got a girlfriend cause

If you call him out on his comments but

What’s rong with you girl I was just joking so

Should I screen shot this and post it yeah?

Why you gota be a drama queen uh?

 

People like to speak to a blank slate so

Girls toilets, Mac D’s, Night queues so

 

She’s next to the DJ booth but

drunk toddler run but

But but but but but but,

GEORGE WHAT ARE YOU DOING But

me and George are kissing in the smoking area BUT

GEORGE YOU’RE GAY, but

I curl up in the porch but

both doors are locked I’m are hugging my knees like a giant soft toy turtle that helps me sleep but I can’t sleep cause I’m crying, popping bloody vessles and there is so much red over my skin, colour shifting like a tongue under a hard boiled sweet and

They are inside, and they open the door, and they bend down to pick you up but you are too heavy they they have to squeeze into the porch with you and you feel like one of those glass boxes with all the Pixar toys in, one on top of another, waiting for a giant metal crain to try and get you – the softness of your bodies.

 

3. Editing Phase 2: Be savage/ cut out as much as you can/ and don’t be scared to stick whole words and phases together that once were in complete different stanza’s. Play, disrupt, surprise yourself/ Choose a set stanza length (I have gone with 3 line stanza’s) just to give you a format to edit into.

 

I’ve never been in a real fight but

I did once place my hand

flat on the side of a strangers head, and smash it

 

bounced

off Perspex sheath

encasing the DJ

 

He’d reached for my punananananooo (or

phanoola as my god daughter calls it). I’ve never

given anyone head but

 

A 6ft4 guy asked in a rave once when I was 15, I said,

I’d rather lick the floor cause

I’m tired

 

girls toilets, Mac D’s, night queues

drunk toddler run but

But but but but but, BUT

 

GEORGE WHAT ARE YOU DOING? But

me and George were just kissing in the smoking area BUT

GEORGE YOU’RE GAY. But

 

I flat pack myself into the porch so

I can close both doors

hug my knees like giant soft toy turtles that helps me sleep but

 

I can’t sleep cause I’m popping bloody vessels

so much red, my colour shifting like a tongue under hard boiled sweet.

They are inside. And They open the door, and

 

They bend down to pick me up but I am too empty

So They have to squeeze into the porch with me and

I feel like we are in one of those glass boxes with all the Pixar toys

 

one on top of another,

the softness of your bodies

to light to claw, grab or lift.

 

 4. Actually Draft: Give it a title/ CUT EVEN MORE/ change the stanza formation to something that feels like it has logic, I have chosen something irregular but symmetrical(ish) to hold this stream of conciousness.

 

A Real Fight

 

I’ve never been in a real fight but

I did once place my hand

flat on the side of a stranger’s head, and smash it

bounced it

off the Perspex sheath

encasing the DJ.

He’d reached for my punananananooo (or

phanoola as my god daughter calls it). I’ve never

given anyone head but

a 6ft4 guy asked in a rave once when I was 15, I said,

I’d rather lick the floor cause

I’m tired

girls toilets, Mac D’s, night queues

drunk toddler run but he said maybe I wanted a head-but

(and I thought, go ahead, then the police have a ‘real reason’ to come) but

but but but but but but but but but but but but, BUT

GEORGE WHAT ARE YOU DOING? But

me and George were just kissing in the smoking area BUT

GEORGE YOU’RE GAY. But

I flat-pack myself into the porch so

I can close both doors

hug my knees like giant soft toy turtles that help me sleep but

I can’t sleep cause

so much red, my colour shifting like a tongue under a hard boiled sweet.

They open the door, and They

bend down to pick me up but

I am too full of fog, so they squeeze

into the porch with me and

I feel

like we are in a Perspex box

with 30 odd other soft toy turtles

the clouds of our bodies, sweets in a jar – too light

for a claw, or fist or child

to grab, grope or lift.

30min Writing Exercises for Intimidation

If you haven’t hear this big life news about my debut show –

I’m happy to announce that my debut show (the completion of the #grimepoetics development over the past year+) has been commissioned by The Royal Court Theatre and will be in there main theatre space in 2018. As a dyslexic 17 year old from a working-class background I guess I always felt I had something to prove. Maybe that’s why I worked so hard to be the boss of all my often seemingly impossible dreams. So to have such a massive institution, known for world class writing, not only champion me but offer up bigger dreams ambitions than even I can conceive is mind blowing and testament to the power of this massive journey of self love and care. Before it felt like if I didn’t work every hour of every day nothing would happen – but now I’m more efficient when I am working as a result of rest/love/dance etc. I’m clearer on who I am and the work has come to me! I HAVE A LONG WAY TO CLIMB (picture Segway) but I am building the strength and team. 

But with this comes INTENSE INTIMIDATION looking at the blank page like WRITE SOMETHING BRILLIANT DEBORAH – GO. When I know that isn’t how it works. So I am trying trick myself with tasks and timers to write, and exercise my writing brain to not worry about brilliance but instead experiment and explore.

So every day, before I start on a show related writing thing, I set myself a writing challenge. Today this was it…

  1. Freewrite (write without thinking, caring, stopping or editing) for 10min to music you love but wouldn’t usually write to. For me this was Soca.

 

Thick fish, sardines fed on feather bowers.

My pelvis is a goat skin drum.

Finger nails pulled, crushed and mixed with white paint

So the walls of his house can shine.

 

I found a box jellyfish in the bath.

I found out you hadn’t been swallowing your cealial,

Just storing it in your cheeks like a hamster.

 

I killed my second hamster with a cheese overdose.

They had to put it down, I wepth over is translucent albino body

From the back middle seat as it lap in my own hands like a prayer to santa.

 

My dad slammed the break, Hammy hit the front windscream

And my parents laughed the whole way home. Funny,

Death isn’t it. My friend cracked her head in a Portuguese swimming pool at 30.

 

Maybe I should bathe in cocpops and oat milk before I die.

Should I go to that nude lane swimming session in the neatherlands.

Or should I finish that poem about how I left my mum so fast

 

It tour her like snot through a napkin. Should I say I am sorry

Even though I didn’t ask to be here.

 

Sometimes I think I am made of the sofa left on the balcony in the rain.

That held up our adolescence so we had somewhere to laugh and hide

And bellow varing shades and textures of green.

 

I want to wear ankle socks more often. But I feel nervous.

I feel nervous. I knew I stopped smoking week for a reason.

Because I think Evil looked like Kermit the frog.

 

And I was really unsure about the consistency of my own socks.

You know, the important stuff? Like doing the splits between two

Caucasian boats on a Canal in Amsterdam at pride.

 

Waking up with purple shins in the smell of 16.

Lynx, weed and scratched so solid CD’s.

I want to lick the back of your hands like a cat.

 

I want to Watt’s App you 18 times whenever I feel sad.

I am going to start texting myself instead.

I know how to use a condom.

 

Well actually I don’t.

I don’t need to, do I?

Has anyone ever been eaten alive by house ants?

 

I feel like a red velvet cake on the pavement.

All red food colouring and no taste.

I want to be on ceramic or washed away.

 

Drafting 10min 

For me this is whilst having a particular focus on patterns, lineation and sense, where can I break the line, delete text, add things, rearrange things to gather some instinctual sense of meaning. What was my subconscious trying to tell me when I wrote this? For me, on reading and editing I was getting a sense of death, sexuality, family and male/female sexual dynamic alongside domestic animal imagery which I was trying to consolidate somehow…

 

His thick fish shimmers as if

fed on feather bowers. My pelvis

is a goat skin drum. His body bobs

like death underwater. Bound

cotton covers. Finger nails

 

pulled, crushed, mixed

with white paint, so the walls of his

house can shine. He hasn’t been

swallowing his cereal, just storing

it in his cheeks like a hamster.

 

I killed my second hamster

with a cheese overdose. Put it down,

I wept over is translucent albino body

the back-middle seat of Mum’s Skoda.

Dad slammed the breaks,

 

Hammy hit the front windscreen

parents laughed the whole way home. Funny,

Death isn’t it. My friend cracked her head

on a miscellaneous rock in

a Portuguese swimming pool. Maybe, I should

 

bathe in Coco Pops and oat milk before I die. I left

my mum so fast it tore her like snot through a cheap napkin. Should I

say I am sorry even though I didn’t ask to be born. Sometimes

I think I am made rain filled sofa. I want

to wear ankle socks more often, but

 

I feel nervous, because I was really

unsure about the consistency of my own

socks. You know, the important stuff? Like,

doing the splits between two

 

Saucasian canal boats at Amsterdam pride. Waking up

with purple shins and the smell of 16 everywhere;

Lynx, weed and scratched so solid CD’s. I want to lick

the back of your hands like a cat. All of you

is so paw-like. I want to Watt’s App you

18 times whenever I feel sad. I know how to use a condom. Well actually

 

I don’t. I don’t need to,

do I? I feel like a red velvet cake

on the pavement. All food colouring,

no taste. I want to be on ceramic

or washed away by a sober, vomit scented, spring Sunday morning.

 

Sharable Version (10min) editing again but more savagely

How hard is each word/line working, is it essential, if you were reading this as a paying audience member/reader what would stay in your brain. + Choose a title and send it to someone you like/trust/know will challenge you to read (depending on what you need). 

 

Miscellaneous Rock

 

He hasn’t been swallowing his cereal, just storing

it in his cheeks like a hamster.

I killed my second hamster

with a cheese overdose. Put it down,

I wept over is translucent albino body

the back-middle seat of Mum’s Skoda.

Dad slammed the breaks,

Hammy hit the front windscreen

parents laughed the whole way home. Funny,

Death isn’t it. My friend cracked her head (just 30)

on a miscellaneous rock in

a Portuguese swimming pool.

I left my mum so fast it tore her

like snot through a cheap napkin.

 

Should I say I am sorry even though

I didn’t ask to be born. But

I’m waking up with purple shins

and the smell of 16 everywhere;

Lynx, weed and scratched so solid CD’s. I want to lick

the back of your hands like a cat.

I know how to use a condom. Well actually

I don’t. I don’t need to, do I?

His red velvet cake on the pavement. All food colouring,

no taste, waiting to be washed

away sober, vomit scented, spring.

 

Hope this is some kinda helpful, Debris. x

p.s. Photography by Tom Morley