Twenty Eight Years – A May 2020 Boy Behind the Glasses Update

TBBTG May 2020

I haven’t written an update for a while and to be honest, I wasn’t sure if I was going to add more.  I have a different purpose to most people who write poetry and start a blog, I am simply archiving my writing and ‘stuff’ from the last twenty eight years.  For me, I can only ever update with, ‘I have added more writing’.

But with everything that is happening at present, and let’s not get too much into what is happening and how that has impacted our lives but we are all feeling it and we are all living with it and suddenly, for many us, in a very real sense we are learning what it is like to have our privilege’s stripped back or taken away.  So with everything that is happening, now, is nothing if not a reflective time.

And reflection is exactly what I have been doing, a lot of reflection! To add to all this, sadly, my father passed away quite suddenly in January and I have been processing that event over the last few months, in fact just as I spent much of my life processing our relationship and my childhood.  There are some recent poems from this year up on the blog which reflect this event but in reality, I have never stopped writing about the relationship I had with either of my parents.

Twenty Eight years of writing is actually a lot of life isn’t it?  My archiving is as much a social study as it is a collection of poetry and writing.  I have written before about how I have the opportunity as much as it is possible to see and witness my younger self.  I can literally go back twenty years and see my thoughts and actions.  I guess as I look back over my work, the quality is almost secondary, the whole, the body of work is greater than the sum of its parts.  I may wince at certain pieces of writing and poems and I may balk at my words, actions and even views but it is me, I can’t change me and this who I am.

I have never not written about things which are true or exist, they might be my interpretation but I have never written poems imagined or plucked something from nowhere.  There has always been a desire if not a need to be absolutely connected and invested in what I write.  It does not mean the end product is better but for me personally, if I am not capturing something of how I feel or what I believe, then I am disappointed. 

Going through twenty eight years’ worth of writing pads is no easy task, as I have mentioned before, there is no particular order but I am naturally drawn to parts of my life that in my mind are easier.  For example when I think about 2006 and the end of my first marriage, there is a sense of foreboding about revisiting anything from the time and I admit, I easily find excuses not to delve into writing pads from that time.  At present I have a writing pad where I will be writing up November 2006, it will be deep breaths before I start that one.  But I will start it but it will not be easy and there will be a lot of emotion around it.   But it is important, we cannot go through life just picking and choosing what we face and who we are.  If like me, you talk often about being true to yourself then it is important you abide by that.

I spent much of this past weekend gathering up pieces of paper that had come loose from writing pads, there are lots of ‘scraps’, so I spent time conserving those and typing those up.  You will see those on the site as the undated or unknown pieces.  Initially I was quite sad that I could not date them or know where they are from.  I could make some educated guesses but many of them will be unknown but at least I could temper that thought with the knowledge that I was preserving them.   I am also starting to get a timeline on my writing now.   I can see the earliest recorded and kept work I have is December 1992, then there is some parodic pieces from January ’93 then there are pieces from a college pad which I have worked out must be December ’93.  Then there is gap and with some work from December ’94 then my writing is consistently recorded.  There must be pads and pieces of writing I have lost.   It seems unlikely I did not write anything down between January ’93 and December ’93.  I suspect it was recorded in a haphazard fashion not in the specific writing pads that I eventually started using in ‘95.  I do have a timeline though and though some of that really early stuff when I am 17 or 18 literally makes me wince, again, it captures me, it captures life and I am really fortunate I can see me as a 17 or 18 year old through to now as a middle aged 45 year old.

I am aware people follow me and I really do not want to fill up people’s e mail boxes and I also want to spend time to read other people’s work.  So I have restricted my updates to the weekend when I can really get a lot of work completed.  Do I have regrets when I read my work?  Oh absolutely, I often wish I could go back and shake the younger me and tell them what decision to make.  Occasionally I read my work and think, you know, that’s okay actually.   There is a piece called, ‘Be a Little Strange’ which I added yesterday.  I wrote it in December ’93 when I was 18 and it is by no means a quality piece of work but when it is typed up, it does not look too different to something I might have written later or even now and that is kind of comforting.  

Part of me is fascinated to watch how my writing and views have develop.  This is particularly true as I have become more politicised as I have got older.  I can see the ‘political’ poems start to creep in my thirties.  When you’re younger it feels like, trying to find work, getting pissed, go out, friends and maybe girls.  As I have got older, like a lot of people, different priorities and different experiences expand your world massively and inform your views.  I see all that creep into my work.

People continue to like the poems I don’t and the ones I do, people are less keen on…  It’s the rule of sod and must be accepted, it’s genuinely good that people take a piece of work and make it something that means something to them.   I have always wanted a certain anonymity in my writing, in fact it was one of the reasons why I started writing.  It was always and always has been my safe space, you can be who you want within a piece of writing, and you do not even have to be a nice person.  You express yourself safely and without recourse.  Maybe ultimately that is a bit selfish and egotistical but that I am aware it exists in that sense.

So if my archiving, the whole Boy Behind the Glasses Project is a social study, what have I learnt so far?  I have learnt what we are many people in many times.  I have learnt we are complicated, often idealistic but sometimes cast free from the safety of realism.  I have learnt we start off young feeling like we know everything and end getting older and actually realising we do not know that much.  In essence we are complicated but certainly strands and commonalities run throughout our lives.  An essence, a personality exists and you can see it shaped and molded by experience, life, the world and people.  That is very much evident in what I have written down over the last twenty eight years, even, if I have said, individual pieces of writing are not of the highest quality.

As I said, it is true the whole is greater than the sum of the parts.   

Be safe, be kind, be compassionate and be emotionally intelligent

James

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