I am a storyteller, of sorts. I see stories in everything – as simple as a precise emotion or sense inspired by a broken fence swaying in the wind, or the exasperated look on a mother’s face leaving her child at the train station. I like to believe there is a story there and often I imagine for myself what the story might be.
I have too many storytelling tools at my disposal. I unpack the inner workings of my mind into words here on this website. I write in columns for other publishers, sometimes I write for radio and tell stories there. And then that Goliath of the modern age; the social internet. I tell stories with pictures and poetry on Instagram, on Facebook, on Twitter. In a word, I am prolific.
And I say that it is storytelling but in fact it is partially storytelling and partially just reflecting what I see and think and feel in a moment. I have never been in love but I can tell you a story about love in a few words. It’s tainted, of course, but it’s still a story about love. And maybe it’s silly but I want to be inspiring and thought-provoking. I want to be funny, oh how I love to make people laugh.
I want to be unexpected and yet reassuringly the same; at the end of the day you can find me telling stories in a whisky bar. It’s a nice piece of mythology for people to grasp hold of. I want to show what is possible in a life, in wringing the marrow out of it, not just in adventure and experience but in feeling and living and breathing these moments. All the neurons buzzing, flying through the mind and currents fizzing, firing through the body. Heady, giddy, dazzlingly alive.
I publish these stories prolifically. I am writing for an audience, I am always doing this for ‘you’ and sometimes you are one thousand readers, sometimes you are just the one person I am telling a story too, although I am letting the world watch. I am doing it for myself too. I crave the expression and the art of it. Not a dozen reactions to a self-portrait, but the creating or sharing of a moment. I am a collection of light reflections from a dozen facets in a stone. I am interested in almost everything and passionate about ten things, when two would satisfy most. I have an insatiable curiosity and a need to find wonder in it all. I want magic in the world, as much as I want a pragmatic guidebook to it all.
Sometimes I Make The Magic.
I am a writer and all writers write in code. You see it there, a certain pattern to the words they choose around a subject matter; inspired by or in tribute to the conversation that started the thread of the thought. A phrase that means something more to just one reader, whether the faithful editor or family member. I use it in hashtags and captions always, a story within a story. A story for one within the crowd.
Two words that mean ‘I am thinking of you in this moment, but you are not with me and I would like it to be otherwise.’
A phrase that really means ‘I have been here before.’
And when I am sad or the darkness threatens, either brought upon me or because I have it… the words ‘on the land of birth and burial’ appear again and again. One day, when some poor editor has to work through my collection of poetry they will no doubt cross out those words more than once.
I put magic into the stories I tell, hoping someone will see. In every part of my life, I want people to speak straight and true, but when you read me, how I want for you to read between the lines. But it’s all reflection and external representation, right? What is there to read beneath the text I give you?
All along, I say to myself, that is not the best of me. The best of me is hidden away, the best of me is still a story told face to face, the whisper of my voice, the response of your eyes and hands as I unfold these stories, these observations, these questions into your hands. That is what I tell myself, that there is within me still, a deeper Magic.
I don’t mean the novel; the story of miscast lovers that is really an allegory for everything I’ve seen and learned about taking responsibility for your own life. It’s not the other novel; about what it takes to forgive beyond reason. It’s not a work, that’s hidden within me – those works are in plain sight just biding their time.
I mean, the Magic I hope is there. Some substance to me that is more than the ability to mirror the world in snapshots and morsels. Some Magic that causes people to be as curious about me as I am about them. Some Magic that is the mystery of a tree with roots deep down into the earth that reaches to the sky and somehow lives whether the river runs wide or dry.
It has occurred to me, perhaps there is no intangible root or sweet, ripened fruit. Perhaps, between the lines there is simply nothing more. I tried to put it into words, who I am, the magic I hope is within me and fell flat. I stumbled for a phrase when I should have sparkled, at last given chance to reveal myself and say here, look and see – this is my something more, this is my magic. So I have been searching for it. I have been trying to find the words I should have used and to describe to myself…what more there is beyond this story I have created. All night I have searched and I have not found it.
So, perhaps there is no magic. Maybe I have told all the stories there are to tell. Perhaps I am just a mirror, driven by curiosity and exploration. Perhaps I should stop, before I run out of interesting things to say.
But I want to believe. Don’t you want to believe, that there is always something more?
I want to show what is possible in a life, in wringing the marrow out of it, not just in adventure and experience but in feeling and living and breathing these moments. All the neurons buzzing, flying through the mind and currents fizzing, firing through the body. Heady, giddy, dazzlingly alive.
Like a Second-Hand Book
I love second-hand books, the kind that are hard to find – collections of poetry by mid-century New York writers (Frank O’Hara comes to mind) and of course, Neruda and Cummings. You can’t leave them behind. I like to pick up them up tenderly, gently coaxing the spine open and seeing where the pages fall. Where have readers before left a trail for me to follow? Those pages falling open by habit to the favourite poem, or where soft pencil scratchings have left a marker in the margins.
‘Go here, follow this path, find what I found.’
You see where the writer and the audience met and laid out their secrets to one another. In some volumes, you see the reader was obsessed with sonnets, in others you see the reader was battling sadness. You see the magic of the author and the reader.
So I wonder now, is it the same with me and with you? Can we not see our own magic unless someone shows it to us? Perhaps the magic is there, but I’m in it and surrounded by it and therefore hidden in plain sight, the ‘something more’ escapes me because the Magic isn’t crafted like a piece of poetry, it isn’t thought out to be funny or wise or kind; perhaps the Magic is just what tumbles out when I am no longer thinking about the audience at all. When I step back from the microphone instead of into it, when I stop reflecting like a mirror and have the chance to see what is reflected back to me.
What is secret, what is hidden, what is yet to be revealed? Yes.. there is something there. I felt creep up on me in the quiet just then, so I am content. It is not for here. It is simply enough to tell you there is more than this.