Flash writing (20 minutes without a pause):
I woke with Life on Mars? in my head. It was a musical hangover from a dream I’d been having of Bowie singing live in a darkened club, one that I wrote about recently. It felt like I’d been there. I swear I could smell cigarettes on my clothes, taste the sting of a strong rum drink on my tongue, as well as the tingle of kisses shared with a boy who smoked cloves. Sometimes my dreams are so vivid that all I want to do is go back into them, or at least write them down. I need a composition book to sit there by my bed.
Bowie singing. I’d fallen asleep to a Bowie video playing in the background. It wasn’t Life on Mars? though, it was that duet about street dancing he did with Jagger. But Bowie came along anyway, into my subconscious movie. It was nice to see him singing, to forget for a moment that he’s not still of this world.
I was standing in that dark club with a skinny boy next to me. He held my hand in his bony one, threading his fingers with mine. I couldn’t see his face, but if I could I think he’d have been a mash-up of three different boys that have been on my mind lately; two from my past and one not so much. But, maybe he would be someone completely different. Maybe he was someone my mind just made-up.
I was wearing a striped dress, black-and-white, so when I got dressed this morning I had to comply. Black-and-white stripes came with me today and its kept the dream going for me, at least parts of it, the remnants and half-awake imagery. I keep trying to turn the boy towards me, to get just the right angle to bring his face into focus. I want to see his face, hear his voice, feel his lips on mine.
But, all I have is the feeling of his hand in mine as Bowie’s voice sings about the girl with the mousy hair.
I could make him up, couldn’t I? The magic of being a writer is we an make everything up, rewrite our own history, create the better thing to say, the right way to look, or look away, kisses when we wanted them, running when it was the right thing to do, and that last conversation that never happened, we can write that out, too.
The truth, our actual history, is not so pretty, not so tied together, not so articulate. Mine’s not, at least. No, I’ve always been too clumsy, too quiet when I should have spoken or shouted or sang out, too full of the wrong decisions.
Is that part of why I write? Is that part of the appeal of creating other scenarios? Characters who either fuck up as badly as I have, or who take the trips and falls and make them fated, special, and full of story arc and meaning. In stories our regrets have meaning later. In writing we always defeat the antagonist, or at least we learn something from the battle, even if in the end we lose.
The dialogue always flows, and fills in the silences. We push ourselves to not drown in exposition, when in reality all we do is over-think and lose ourselves in all that thought.
But some days I don’t want to talk out loud at all. I don’t want any dialogue. I want to turn up the music and just think think think. I want to get lost in pages and pages of exposition. I want to break all the fucking writing rules.
Or, I want to go back to the dreaming. Bowie in the dark club singing, and a tall, thin boy standing next to me, holding my hand.
Life On Mars? :: David Bowie