I call myself a writer but I haven't written a word in over six weeks. I haven't blogged, scribbled or even picked up my ever evolving opus 'Not Moving to Eastbourne' . It is my passion but I simply could not find the time. If I loved it would I not live it? Write 500 words a day like Graham Greene did, follow the artists way and pen a few paragraphs each morning before breakfast? If writing is a discipline I'd be in line for the cane.
Instead of writing I have been making money. Until something pays it is a luxury pastime, a hobby at best, the vicious circle being the fact that fiction needs a lot of work before it makes any money if ever at all. Re writing, drafting , chopping, editing down to the bone before fleshing it out again. In the meantime money must be made and the writing suffers. And so I had no option but to lay down my pen and pull my petticoat back on. I didn't get on my bike to seek work in a neighbouring town, I laced up my boots, hired a hall and resumed my classes in the art of the cancaneuse. High kicking (jippy hip doing well considering), making people whoop and smile and earning more than I would if I took a job offering minimum wage. And then there's the stall. If its not nailed down I sell it. Every Tuesday I drag my case and wicker busts up the hill to the market and create The Wild Pearl, a stall selling vintage inspired items. They all sound very glitzy my part time jobs, but all that glitters is not gold.
I miss the quiet part of me. The part that does not need to be performed, the part that lives in my heart and on the tip of my thoughts. The part I can express without making my body ache. This last few months has been an expression of me through the physical, needs be when the devil has raided your purse, but I need a little of the quiet me too, the Michelle who writes.
I have not written, but the writer in me has been listening and watching; getting out there and living. I have met people who are not literary, people of all ages and from all walks of life. If I was paid as a full time writer would I miss this, would I end writing about a writer, my stories would begin to eat themselves. I haven't written for six weeks but in a way I have been living as a writer, not by writing but by listening, by observation.
Last week I met a man of 82 who was selling at the same market as me. He had hands like shovels and a twinkle in his eye. Over five hours we bantered and discussed our takings. By the time we packed up I knew that his father had not survived the injuries he suffered during WW2, despite their moving to Lewes so that he could recuperate. His first wife had died of cancer at 52, he told me that he had broken down and didn't even care if his house burned down around him. A poignant moment was shared before we had a giggle at some saucy postcards.We concluded that life is as simple as pulling yourself back up or choosing to throw the towel in. I wouldn't have heard that story at home alone behind a desk. He wouldnt have short changed me either, but at 82 I'll give him that.
So yes, I still call myself a writer. In between showing my knickers and haggling over vintage brooches. To write about life is to live it first. This is living as a writer. That and justifying your procrastination in such an effective manner.
Michelle Porter is wondering wether or not to call her short story collection
A) Not Moving to Eastbourne
B) vintage Tales : because everything old has a story
All of the stories are Unexpected tales about people over 70