Thursday, September 24, 2009

A following, non-writing and a small tribute to Charlie Jordan

A group of beasts from
It's an evening of gentle leisure. That's as much as I can cope with today. First day back at work after a holiday. It wasn't particularly straining, but the plodding of 9-5 work wears me down more than I'm willing to acknowledge. I had stuff to do, but sitting hunched over a laptop every evening, after a day of work is just too much sometimes.
Found a few obituaries for Charlie Jordan, one by digging for the Tuesday Argus in the recycling bin at work. The other found on the CVSF email list. Charlie was a long-standing and well-respected Brighton community development worker and activist who did so much, it's almost hard to believe. Charlie, who set up the Emmaus community in Portslade, died quite young at 61 of a second heart attack last week. I couldn't believe it. I was in France when I read the email announcing his death. Of course, it was only a few years ago when we were all in France together, on a trip involving a breakdown, canoeing, bad singing and a beautiful farmhouse.
Charlie had been one of my trainers as a community development worker on the WICO (working in community organisations) course. He was the reason I gave up smoking about three years ago; it was talking to him about group dynamics, underneath a great old tree on his farm in the south of France, with all of us trainees, making us laugh with stories about him and his best friend Jacque and all their stupid drunk antics.
I remember Charlie telling us how he'd given up smoking after he had his first heart attack. Just like that, he took up jogging, starting riding a bike and swam regularly. I suppose it gave him another five or so years of extra life, but by god, we never imagined a person could go so suddenly. I remember he seemed disappointed when I saw him at Amy and John's wedding and I'd mentioned I'd stopped doing community work. Charlie was a great warm, tears perpetually streaming from his eyes from laughter kind of guy, and he will definitely be missed.
Tonight, I'd hoped to write. Ambitiously, a story, as that sometimes happens when I sit down with a pad and pen and give myself a good hour. But I find it so hard to settle - my own fault for not ignoring the lure of internet and other things I could categorise as 'research' - so instead I combed through a notebook from a year ago.
What a mess an entry is when it's just your rambling thoughts and fleeting emotions. And yet informing to accept that subjectivity on the road to something fresh, new and creative. I forget how many reams of paper it takes to get to good writing. Thousands of miles worth.
The notebook, a burgundy hardback A4 book, is the one I drafted part of my third novel in; in the back are three dozen loose sheets of notes and some of the chapters printed out. So the snippets of my own 'diary' entries throughout the notebook are fairly minimal and less interesting than the small stories within the story that lie within.
I forget that taking time to stop and take stock of past writing is all part of the process. It's the reason for being blocked half the time. Let's see what comes of this expedition.

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