Still harvesting the apples in our back garden reminded me of this….
Climbing autumn fences
Barbed and berried
Looking out for the farmer
And the cool snout
Of his shotgun. Spitting pellets of old metal that catch a goodun
In your slow arse
Creep over to the trees
The orchard a neat system of lines
Regimental one by one
We pick as many as we can carry, thick-skinned apples
Hammocked in our jumpers
Inside out bellies
Running the mile back to the estate,
Past the infant school, the offie, the corner shop
The gavvers in their car,
Dad in the pub
Over the train tracks, electric braces
Rigid current all the way to France
You live in the Garden of England
They tell us
Dickens the Romans Thomas a Becket William the Conquerer Anne Boleyn Churchill Darwin
All that history, them books
We keep running.
As so often seems to be the case, just recently I encountered the whole life imitating art and vice versa cliché. I was stuck, in both my personal life and with my work, the wheels were spinning but I had no purchase – I was burning hot and running out of juice. So, I flipped my perspective in both areas.
I had a wake up call of sorts that shook me up and reminded me that I have much to be grateful for, that I needed to clear the complacent gunk out of my eyes and re-see my life for all its joys and richness. I needed, in short, to see what I had from an outsider’s viewpoint to appreciate what I have.
This lesson carried into work too – my current project, a novel, has been stagnating, getting more overwrought and overworked as I tried to ‘fix’ it. So I changed perspective, literally, rewriting key scenes from another character’s point of view… And it worked, at least it’s worked in so far as there’s life and space in the text again. The first draft is finished and I’m editing and redrafting.
So there’s the lesson – in life and writing – flip your perspective and see the world from another POV. It works.
Extract from Wounding
An apple tree grows at the end of the lawn; its branches thick and fertile, as she approaches it throws black shadows across her face, bars of cool shade in the bright sunlight. Apples hang from the branches, a hundred red-green orbs studding the bark, visible through the thick leaves. It seems magical, producing, fruiting without their aid or husbandry, cajoled by bees and wandering insects, silently maternal in the garden. Under the tree the grass is pocked with rotten fallen fruit, the apple’s flesh softened and melting into the soil like soap, the harvest squandered. Fodder for wasps, which then sting her children. The sticky sweet waste appalls her. She has always bought their apples, neat and green, wrapped in cellophane, unsullied by nature, almost as if manufactured not grown. When here, if she made the effort, if she could trust them, were more apples than they could eat. She feels sick, her stomach rising towards her mouth, sick at the waste, and sick at the sight of the brown mush, the bright optimism of the apples corrupted by dirt and rot.
An award-winning journalist returns to his hometown to report on the discovery of a body at the site of the government’s latest high-speed rail scheme. Little does he suspect that he will be implicated in a 20 year-old murder, he’ll be accused of corruption or that his long lost best friend, Melanie, isn’t lost at all.