My muse needs bad stuff – why?

I still wake up early, despite being off the steroids for several weeks now. It may be that some of the medication I take has a stimulating effect but as far as I know this should not be the case. I like it actually. It may be a bit tiresome for M but she endures it uncomplainingly. Anyway when I wake up, after catching up on a few work e-mails and reading the BBC entertainment news hoping it will feature pictures of what ever her name is from Game of Thrones, I have taken to writing random bits of poetry and prose. Oh dear we should all cry! Cancer brings out the crap poet much as it brings out crap marathon runners and of course bloggers. Nothing to be ashamed of I suppose but probably best kept out of the public domain – just in case posterity is less understanding than ones loving family who are so nice and too worried to be anything less than encouraging of the limp literary efforts that emerge. Anyway none of my cobblers is intended for public consumption ( although one escaped onto the blog in a moment of misguided self appreciation eg. I found myself saying “coo this is pretty good – I must let my public know how clever I am” – secretly I still think that – so if you have not read ‘Chemo Café’ prepare yourself for a treat) and certainly none of it is intended to be actual poetry but all that said I have noticed a curious phenomenon.

For me writing about something personal and turning it into a poem is a matter of dwelling over those fragments of my life that continue to elicit feelings. I cannot imagine being a proper writer and being able to turn my hand to writing about something that I have not experienced. How do they do that? I know you can do a lot of research but how do you end up really caring about the life of someone who isn’t in someway you. Is this the mark of a proper writer as against a diarist or journalist? Naturally this has a limiting effect on what I can write about. Not having done that many things that would interest anyone but me I end up churning over my own preoccupations and obsessions in a neurotic way that is somewhat misleading (I am no more neurotic and disturbed than everyone else I know). Besides which, why is that the only things that stimulate the muse in me are sad or perverted in some way. Most of my life has been sublimely happy. From the moment I met M and subsequently had our two boys things have been pretty marvellous but these events and many other happy things remain unrepresented in my output at least so far. Instead I dwell on the few childhood traumas and the disturbing fearful side of my personality giving a pretty awful not to say screwed up impression of myself. I am not at all sure this is healthy. Anyway I have come to a profound truth. I have concluded that this is because it is easier.

I have long believed, indeed I was trained to believe that being light and funny in art is much harder than being earnest and deep. Shakespeare was a genius because he could do both.
The best actors I have worked with could do comedy. If they chose to do tragedy as well they were always brilliant. The reverse did not apply. Composers are the same in my view. I have long been a great admirer of the scariness of Benjamin Britten but boy he is embarrassingly camp when he is trying to be funny in Albert Herring. Mozart on the other hand manages to make Don Giovanni funny first and scarier as a consequence. It’s a doddle to produce some piece of esoteric weirdness that plumbs the depths of existential despair compared to the task of writing a joke that actually gets a spontaneous laugh from an audience less prepared to be conned by cleverness and obscurity. I would not dare to write a witty poem as I know the result would be excruciating but to write something full of unresolved implications laced with a few macabre childlike resonances – most of my oeuvre follows that formula, is easy-peasy.

What is it about the shitty bits of life that stick, compared to the jolly bits that don’t. Oh well I guess I am in a sticky bit – drat! Plenty of material for my future collection of existential musings – look forward all.

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