Yesterday I was filmed ‘being a writer’, for the Windham Campbell Prize, which is having its ten-year anniversary this year. It was a slightly freaky experience: I’ve always had this fantasy of myself as someone who would be quite good at being normal and relaxed on camera, but it turns out to be the hardest thing in the world, and everything good you had to say just unravels immediately into chaos. At one point, during the interview portion, I heard myself describing myself as a stingray. I have blocked the context from my mind. Anyway, a big part of the shoot was filming the B-roll, where I had to be shown ‘being a writer’: typing at my desk, weeding the garden, reading/stroking my own books (we do this), and at one point fondling a fern in the rain and looking up into the sky from left to right. I struggled with the bit where I had to write at my desk. How do you hold your body so that you look like a writer? Usually I write in bed, or reclined in my armchair with my feet (in huge socks) up on a wheely chair, so it felt unnatural to sit at a desk ‘writing’. As my fingers and face were being filmed while I was typing, I tried not to think about my fingernails (scungy, bitten) and figured I might as well try to write something. It was this weird exercise in trying to unfreeze myself while being looked at. I don’t think it succeeds at all, but it was kind of an interesting exercise.
This is what I am typing for the camera.
Creative task creative task creative task.
Let’s run through the poem from the top. Here is the poem again.
My god, it is the poem again already. A fly is here. A fly is in the room…
Two flies. A bird is screaming. A bird is screaming. I am typing normally.
The camera man had to stop before because that fly was here.
It was on me as I was speaking.
I look up. I delete… I look up and type normally with my mouth a little bit open.
I am enjoying what I am writing. You can see it on my face.
My mouth is a little bit open. I open it more. The flies are mating.
The moment is seeds I can’t get off my hands…
It was pointed out to me that the rubbish bin was in the frame.
But I am a writer. I type normally. Who am I at the desk? No one. No one.
Who is running? I am. I am. Through the rain, like a writer.
Now I remember the sausage. Here’s something.
I remember the dog that was lost in the wetlands. Do you remember?
The dog reached up for the sausage that was dangled from a drone.
The dog was drawn away from the wetlands.
The drone, the sausage dangling from the drone.
The dog’s life, saved, the dog, eating the sausage. But only half the sausage.
The dog, evading capture still. For days. Days.
But eventually the dog was saved. It smelled the sausage – it smelled it.
It was drawn out of its lostness and away from the encroaching floods
and it was saved and fucking drawn to safety! I am a writer.
Then the dog spent two days and two nights alone.
The truth is ordinarily I write in bed. Not sitting upright like this. Like an insane person
with a rubbish bin under the desk. The fly is back. There was a fly on me yesterday as well,
but at a different location. I am thinking new things all the time.
A woman sitting on a bench in a bra and jeans, smoking.
A woman smoking and looking over her shoulder as someone comes into the room.
She has a little perfect haircut.
It will never be possible to look that good again. It’s over. You never had it.
My mouth a little bit open. I am living a life of the mind now.
Here is the poem again already. It likes to be filmed while it is being written.
The disgusting poem. Do not film it. Do not film it. Do not put the camera on it.