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The Jumble Sale Phantasy

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Jayne Dullahan


Whenever I am writing something academic, I fall into a kind of bubble. The rest of the world has to be shut out, I cannot be distracted by anything outside of my most selfish needs... writing is not just about writing, it is about watching other people create, listening to other people create and talk about creating; it is about ordering pizza and eating it distractedly all day, breakfast at noon, dinner at midnight, but eating all day, anyway; it is about 8-10 cups of coffee and no alcohol; it is about pacing around high tables and lying in the sun; it is about listening to the same song or movie for hours. I am not kidding, I mean HOURS. As my subconscious mind turns over whatever I am working out, my more conscious mind muses over other peoples' creations. I am writing an email to my friend the Austrian playwright. I am telling her her work is amazing, it says things I wish I could think to say, they seem like things I could, if I could find that in myself... but I have become an academic writer, I left creative writing behind me over a decade ago.

As I write that I wonder, was I ever much of a creative writer? I think about Monty Python. I think about 2 weeks in Barbados, writing Life of Brian. How do people do that, dedicate all their energy to creating something that never was before the same way I dedicate all my energy to writing books, articles, reviews...that has an anchor. I can hang on to that. How to create, how to create? I think of Terry Jones and Michael Palin, my two favorite Pythons. I muse over the Amazon List of Terry Jones's work. It is astonishing. The man has been turning out creative and very, very weird work since the late 1960s. Now he writes academically. He also wrote things like Spam. And Labyrinth. How to go into the office, shut out the world, and create... and how to do that and then have, you know, any connection to things and people outside? How can one bear to leave the creative bubble behind and re-enter that world of pulling weeds and visiting ATMs? Talking to people about door frames or curriculum revision? Entering the bubble isolates you completely, and it is the only way to write; leaving the bubble is hurtful. So is entering the bubble, though, because you have to have reached a state of being in which you NEED to shut out the everyday world, and that usually occurs as you find yourself looking around at everyone and everything and thinking, you know, f@$% all of this. I am checking out. I have concentric circles to push out.

I close my eyes, both hating and relishing this isolation, pushing through a psychological analysis about my tendency to self-isolate, to a tunnel into my past. 15 years ago. ? Longer? Living in a little medieval town in central Europe. Falling away from people I know, distracted by some other plane. How much time elapsed? I don't know. It didn't occur to me. Why do we always take so much f@$%ing time to learn things we already know about ourselves? It was not therapy. It was not cathartic. Not entirely. Cut off from my everyday life anyway, I started sleeping less and less. 6 hours a night. 4 hours a night. By the end it was 3 hours a night, and let me tell you, when you don't talk to anyone, and sleep three hours a night, the 21 hours left are long. I became prolific. I read and read, I wrote poems, plays, short stories. None of them were any good, but all of them were practice. Good lord, this is how I've always been. It drove my poor parents round the bend. My first priority is the bubble. It always has been. All other things take a distant second place to the remote possibility that that bubble may spring up. Every so often I feel very lonely about that. But given the opportunity to change it, I will pick the bubble without a second thought.

I will return to more creative writing someday. That seems very certain. I am in the bubble right now, and things that seem certain in the bubble often are--because they are unavoidable? Because this is the place where I really really know what I want?

Why am I sitting here writing this now? No idea. Self serving. But I was so compelled to do it, I can't help but think it is clearing out some corner of my mind to make space for something I am trying to get to. Or that it will lead me to something I am trying to get to.

Sort of like a yard sale! Thank you for browsing, don't feel compelled to buy. I'm just going to take a photograph and then chuck it all in the fire, whatever is left.

I've just written the title. I f@$%ing love it.

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