Am working on this new short script called ‘IMMUNITY’. Joyfully i dreamed the story in pictures after several recorded chats and improvisations with @noveltyshoe. After dreaming a while longer and a visit to the Wellcome Library for inspiration, ideas and images, I sketched out a plot on a giant notepad in my studio. All I have to do now is get some scientific and clinical input, as the story has scientific and medical themes at its core, and turn it into a short script.
But… there’s a snag… writing is a funny thing – sometimes the most difficult thing to do is to just write – especially when your mind is crowded with so much noise from the day. I like to work in complete silence, or listen to music without words. If i get stuck it helps if i go and daydream, or go for a walk, get on a train and stare blankly out of the window watching clouds pass by. The trick is to forget about what i wanted to write about by emptying my mind.
Swimming helps or frantically cleaning the whole flat… then, suddenly, like a dog walking around its bed before it settles down, i will go from meandering to writing really quickly without thinking and by magic, my thoughts are distilled via my nervous system into my fingertips. I wonder if this is linked to the ideomotor effect in psychology, whereby mental representations of ideas can result in automatic bodily movements without the conscious awareness of the person? A while back I started writing an essay about this ‘automatic or unconscious writing’ but then the laptop i was writing on was lost in a taxi and the knowledge distilled into the hands of well, who knows…?
For me, words are a string of metaphors distilling moments and feelings, into simple notation, like musical notes or a series of dance steps. The trick is choosing the right words and the order of the ‘notes’ to create the feeling you hope to evoke in the mind of the reader. This idea of creating a ‘feeling of what happened‘ is explored in neuroscientist, Antonio Damasio’s book of the same name, to explain human consciousness. Essentially, creating feelings distilled and conveyed through words that are read and brought to life in the mind of another person is to extend and evoke your consciousness, your sense of yourself, in another person.
This reminds me of another time i was with my niece and nephew – he was throwing a ball at me and she was on the computer, browsing web pages with her back to me –
‘back, back, over there‘, i instructed to my nephew as he was about to throw a rugby ball at me,
‘I can’t go back any further’ shouts my niece as she frantically jabs the back button on her web browser.
In that short scene, it suddenly dawned on me that, words, like music, like filmmaking, like project management, like dance steps, like street signs, like time, like art, can be a means to organise people – and this is why writing and reading is exhausting…
…between us we have effectively run three miles writing and reading this blog post!
If you want an experiential insight into this idea of extending consciousness through art, check out Gillian Wearing’s latest movie, Self-Made. It had a quite weird effect on me…
I came across a fun way for academic writers to get writing via twitter. Its called shutupandwrite. Writers convene virtually under the hashtag, with coffee, note pad, laptop and then write for 30 minutes. Worth a go next time I’m lost for words.