Tiny beads of sweat are starting to appear on my forehead as I toss in my bed under the warm duvet cover. I am fast asleep so unaware of the agonizing sounds I am making… “Caviar, black pearls, shiny, salty” I keep repeating words in my head that do not seem to make sense… I cannot get any sentence out of the jumble of letters and I start to panic. Then with a shock I sit up in bed and realize I was having a nightmare… I breathe a deep sigh of relief and manage to slow my heartbeat to a fairly normal flutter.
I sit up and try to remember the dream I was having just moments before; Jeanne and Jamie standing over me and looking very stern and serious with their fingers pointed at a blank piece of paper. A piece of paper I was supposed to have filled with some meaningful metaphors about caviar. A piece of paper that is yet to be written. I look to the left of the bed and see that my roommate Astrid is still fast asleep. We’re still at the plate to page workshop and the topic of today is going to be how to write for a magazine.
Different style, different context and different audience from a blog post. I prop the pillow up against the bedhead and sit up pondering on our days assignment. There are just a handful of people that know that I used to write before I took photos. When I was a kid I drove my parents crazy with my total book obsession; I read any time of the day and if I was curled up on the sofa with a good book, I shut out all other sounds in the room and concentrated purely on the book at hand. I kept reading when I needed to go upstairs or even when I needed to go to the bathroom. Book in hand and continue reading! All that reading at some point let me to start writing my own stories.
I loved to write; I still have my very first story on some crumbled pieces of paper. Don’t laugh as the story is about Simone and Ineke (my best friend at the time) in the Jungle (aha! It was Jungle then already… the source of Junglefrog!!) and I was this crazy kid who could talk to animals. I have no idea how the story unfolded but I was about 7 years old at the time, so let me tell you it was no literary masterpiece… This was also the time before the computer and so I did all my writing by hand, writing page after page on huge notebooks. I still have all of them today and some are actually quite funny (or at least I like to think so).
I wrote my first ‘novel’ before I was 20 years old. It was called Rainbow House and obviously was never published. It was a story set in a creepy old building in the South of England and the scene of a terrible horror story of which the details have sort of escaped me at this moment, but there was a dangerous ghost of some sorts that played the key role here as did the four girls that lived in the house. And it was not a small book either! 500 (typed) pages went into the book that got written and rewritten countless times. So many times in fact, that halfway through the book the plot got lost and time lines were completely messed up to never recover.
I remember following a course in creative writing and believe it or not, I am actually a copywriter (diploma and all) too… It’s just one of those things that I forgot about, never used again and I find that writing is like learning a new language; if you do not use it, the knowledge and the skill get lost over time.
Thinking about writing these past days during our writing assignments has brought all those memories back. The love I used to have for writing, the pleasure of just putting words to paper and coming up with a story. Plus I did write some pretty cool stuff twenty years ago. God, I used to write diaries about all my teenage loves and dramas. And yes, they all still exist somewhere in a crate upstairs. Stacked together. I kept writing diaries until I met a guy that didn’t respect my privacy, read and misused those journals and I stopped writing them since. I don’t miss the diary writing. I think that was useful when I needed it during the turbulent times of my life but now that I am older (o jeez, that sounds like I am 80 right now..) I don’t feel the need anymore to write about day to day life. Instead I write a blog, a blog about food predominantly and isn’t that a diary of sorts?
And then the thought about metaphors and similes comes back to me… I realize I am not good at using metaphors nor similes and I write pretty straightforward without a lot of adjectives. Is that good, is that bad? I don’t know but it’s just the way I know how to write.
I swing my legs over the edge of the bed and sneak out of the room for a quick shower before everyone else in the apartment wakes up. Another day at the Plate to Page workshop is about to start.