I’m not altogether sure why I’m still corresponding with you – and by such an archaic form as a hand-written letter! This is not something that I normally do; get involved with a ‘fan’, so to speak. My rule is to respond to all letters with a polite and curt paragraph – I get so many after all – but your own personal narcotic is hidden between the lines of your scrawling script and it entices me. I’m hooked and I’m not ready for detox.
I question whether you actually seek answers from me Colin or whether you are an addict of questions. Do you just like to construct sentences ending in ‘?’ Are you on an endless journey seeking out nothing as you’re not willing to listen? I wonder if my letters are even read or merely piling up, discarded in their multitude, on the side table in your hallway. The only reading you do is of the self-satisfied smile in the mirror hanging over that side table
I’ll never know and I do not wish to meet. This succession of paper to pen and eyes to paper (sometimes fingertips and lips) sustains me. It fills me up to an unbearable level.
I am Kitty Fane in the throes of her love affair with Charles Townsend and no, (unspeakable thought!), I cannot entertain the discovery just yet.
But you ask of my love and I shall answer as honestly as I can, in the vein of my choosing and thus, under your analytical gaze perhaps I do not answer at all. So be it.
What do you want from me, Colin? How confident are you that I can serve up this desire for knowledge on a silver platter? If you carved into my heart I do not bleed perfectly formed sentences ripe for your understanding. I just bleed. Get your Hannibal Lecter chops around that!
I answer thus:
Language. I am having a love affair with language but no one wants to listen, they don’t care about how I have been seduced, how I am always being seduced. I’m a total floozy, I flit from one author to another, and I love them all. I don’t even care that I’m not monogamous. I have no favourite. Angela Carter once said: What is marriage but prostitution to one man instead of many? I have reflected on this many a time and I concur. This is my adopted approach to writers, to all reading material, to the written word itself.
I don’t even charge. Refrain from writing/asking your questions. Please! Allow there to be some ambiguity in our relationship (of correspondence).
No one seems to care about the power of the word, how it can transform the meaning of a piece, how hearing or reading a particular word burrows itself through your consciousness until all those memories, emotions or anxieties come to the fore that I thought I had long since banished. It’s rare I find happiness in this process.
No one wants to engage in conversation with me about the placing of a comma or the choice use of a full stop. Does anyone wish to do so with you, Colin, on your incessant use of the ‘?’
Names like Lawrence, Dosteovsky or Woolf mean nothing to some because they are not casual flings, you read these authors and you need to commit your all to them. No one gets this.
Is it true you’ve read Maugham’s The Painted Veil more than ten, fifty, a hundred, a thousand times?
Do you just drink the one cup of coffee in your life and say: tick that one off?
They cannot comprehend that I read for love, for discovery, for escapism. It is incomprehensible to them that I will forego sleep, food and comfort for the pleasure of being in this relationship. What is wrong with these people?
Colin, everyone loves to hear that I am a writer and they are always asking when the next piece is being published, which is clearly demonstrative of their selfish and puerile nature.
They do not wish to engage in the creation process. They read the poem/short story/novel and they say “$>?*&!!*&##”. Nothing more; I should be thankful they bother to read it at all. I take their money and slink away into the Dickensian night feeling cheap.
Never will I do another interview or write another column piece! There has to remain something of me left untouched. I need to retain me to write.
Last week I started a short story about a woman who realises that she is in a loveless marriage and wants out. The short story became a flash fiction and the flash fiction became a poem because I was once more seduced by the power of the word. I laboured over the language and condensed the story into a couple of hundred words. It was titled Stalactite Colin (or Stalactite Colin, I shall never say) but Stan did not find the connection to the line ‘silently my heart is dripping tears.’ Stan did not exult in the power of the line:
I gave you
My innocence and swept away the crushed petals
and why I constructed the lines with the pause, or even the repetition of ‘I gave you’ first read in the opening sentence.
Stan was bemused, mildly entertained by my play of text on the page, and impervious to the passion of the piece. If I had titled it Untitled and crossed out my name for Anon, would it have elicited more interest, Colin?
Stan did not enquire as to why I had two discourses in the piece and presented them apart on the page, the wife’s internal thoughts down the left and her dialogue with her husband down the right. He did not comment at all.
For all you know, Stan is my dog.
I am dichotomous: I seek adulation for my work but conversely I revel in the silence of a reader’s fingers to their lips. This overlapping, butting up against one another keeps me in constant turmoil. I have nothing to give someday’s Colin but your much favoured ‘?’.
Stalactite will never be published. Discarded. Flung into the fire. Used to line the cat litter tray. I lost myself in The Passion of New Eve instead as a stalagmite formed on my cheek.
Colin, I have said too much, written more today than I did yesterday and yet I am no further along. This time I cannot end the letter; I fear it is never ended, always left open like the door to a lover’s room, inviting and full of trepidation. The door squeaks and I know there is more to come, that tears will flow and smiles will rain down on me and the pencil will snap and the dog will bark and you’ll tack a ‘?’ to the wall like George Emerson did.
I leave you now (with the space at the end of this page).