I am Half-Conscious

Today I am just about half-conscious.  I did not sleep well: woke at 2.30 and read for a while before tossing and turning with the usual vague worries looming over my head: Mark woke me remorselessly at 7 as he always does.

So: what I was thinking about this morning was Integrity.  Integrity in the sense of being yourself.  In a deep way, I mean – not in a ‘which colour wallpaper do I prefer?’ way which is what advertising tries to convince us is Individuality.  And I was thinking that every time I do something to please someone else – in order to get something I want (approval, a job, money) and it’s something I don’t really want to do, I feel a little bit of me has been chipped away.  Even though that something may be a thing I really want.

So with this vague thought in my head, I opened my blog notebook and realised that any such thought can be a starting-point for a story.  Just as anything can be a theme for a poem, so any thought, event, encounter, conversation, fleeting glimpse – can be a jump-off point for a short story.  But!  Here’s the difference: whereas a poem can be written purely on instinct, feeling your way without really knowing where you are going; letting the rhyme or the rhythm or the feel of it teach you where to go, a short story must be thought through.  The conscious mind must come into play when writing prose; it must be engaged during the process and not, as with poetry, afterwards.  You have to think about where you are going: instinct and deliberate thought must work hand-in-hand.  Whereas with poetry, the conscious mind need not enter – perhaps should not enter – until after the first draft; to retrospectively realise what the poem is ‘about’ and teach you how it can be better shaped.  But with prose you get an idea and then straight away you have to think consciously what to do with it.

And that is the difference between prose and poetry.  At least, that is my experience.  What do you think?

Kirk out