I’ve mentioned to several people recently that I don’t seem to have many ideas for new writing, and although I know it’s only a small sample, their reactions seem to clearly support the idea that men and women use language for different purposes.
From the women there have been vague sympathetic noises, general clichéd reassurances that the tide’s bound to turn, and reminders that it’s not the first time I’ve complained of lack of ideas.
The men, though, have offered ‘solutions’.
At the mere mention of my not feeling inspired, one friend can be guaranteed to instantly provide half a dozen potential subjects to write about. (Indeed, since I started writing this post another suggestion has arrived by my email.) As I spend most of my professional life writing about other people’s ideas, this is neither appealing nor particularly helpful.
Another friend wonders whether a larger scale project would provide the challenge I need to inspire me – presumably polishing old works into a collection or tackling a ‘longer’ piece or a series, all of which projects are within my vague plans but don’t currently fill me with enthusiasm.
A third friend actually said, “Perhaps if you started tweeting about your thoughts, it might help?” I’m not sure whether it would be worse to ‘tweet my thoughts’ or ‘tweet about my thoughts’, but either option sounds dreadful and a sure way of putting far too much real life information into a system where privacy becomes increasingly hard to control.
Still, observing how people speak and react to different things and extrapolating this to other situations can provide ideas for poetry. Which is where this piece came from:
What’s it like? he asks, as she suddenly
strips off her cardigan and morphs the TV guide
into a makeshift fan. It’s winter;
doesn’t it have advantages?
At 5 am, she thrusts the quilt aside; bare feet
and legs jut from the bed and she fights
the pillow, desperate to find a patch of cool.
Does it hurt at all? What do you feel?
She tears her hair back from her face, swearing
she’ll have it all cut off. Does your temperature
actually rise? He stifles thoughts of contagion,
stretches a tentative hand to her brow, and wonders
how to harness all the unexploited natural energy
of menopausal flushes round the world.