Painting with Gossamer
So, wow, the move is finished. At least, we have moved. After 6 skips, 5 weekends of rental vans, 2 days of Pickfords and 3 storage units. Now comes the unpack – before we single-handedly fund the whole of Big Yellow.
But at least I have enough headspace back to start to write again. To write enough, in fact, that I’ve re-released in completely edited and re-curated format, my first – and probably still best – collection of poetry and prose, (life) razorblades included.
I was prompted to revisit this book, best summed up as a book that celebrates life by writing about death, following an increasing online debate in the past weeks about the use and appropriateness of trigger warnings for sensitive material, material that may trigger flashbacks or other symptoms in those suffering PTSD and other conditions.
Much of the material in razorblades has been, at times and a much as anything by a no mark like me ever could be, controversial. In particular the opening scenes, frank imagined conversations with those in the process of killing themselves. Suicide has been a constant theme in my writing, as it has in many of the books I love most like Cody James’
or Murakami’s Norwegian Wood. And it’s something I’ve always refused to “take a
stand” on in my writing. I often write about characters who are in some way too
fragile for the world, too bright for the darkness, too beautiful for the
ugliness, too precious for the baseness. All too often those characters find
themselves slowly weighed down, crushed breath by tiny breath until the
darkness covers them over. Suicide, for those characters, is several things. A
means of retaining dignity, the inevitable response of a world too sick to cope
with their blazing light, the inevitable response of those too tiny, frightened
and a lone for the sheer size of the universe.
Much of what I write on the subject is based upon experience. My own, and that of those I love and have loved through the years. The strand that runs through much of the way we talk about suicide is the same as that which runs through our dialogue on mental health, only writ larger. There is a desire to leave the subject untouched, a fear of saying the wrong thing, a wish not to upset, not to disturb the surface of society. And so we remain silent, or we take a stand, make it clear that “suicide is not the answer”, and so we can all sleep more clearly, safe in the k knowledge we have not contributed to the darkness.
Only in many cases such well-meaning positivity can do untold – and, sadly, immeasurable and so unverifiable – damage. For every person not tipped over the edge by an account of suicide that avoids overstepping the line, how many more lives are lost to their own loneliness because there is no hand held out to them in the night?
It has always been my determination never to judge in my writing, but in this book especially I wanted to tackle, for the sake of those beautiful, fragile lost lives, the subject of suicide head on. I wanted to create a voice that would speak to those who felt there was no one experiencing what they did, who needed to know that someone understood, who needed to know that not everyone will tell them “it will get better.” Because sometimes it doesn’t get better. Sometimes life is a battle against that fact. And sometimes that battle is lost. And that is no one’s fault. And as writers sometimes we have to tell truths like this.