By Tom Flynn
Tom’s Crying Again.
My lord and saviour Joe Frazer wrote a Scab recently entitled, How to Write a Scab (beautifully post-modern really). He essentially broke down the formula for scab writing, very accurately if I’m honest, at least in the manner that I write them.
It pissed me off something fucking fierce to start with. See I fancy myself quite good at scabs. I like writing them, it’s cathartic. So when I saw Joe made it out to be just a formula, I felt accosted, which is hilariously insecure, I am not my scabs nor should a technique be used as locus of personal evaluation (plus thinking your good at reflecting is akin to being proud of your proficiency at masturbating in the mirror) and when I realised that, the piece had the opposite effect.
I loved it. Genius I thought, a deconstruction of an accepted form, how Foucauldian! Straight away it was the fuel for my next one. How could I invert the form of the scab? How could I do something different? How do I make it fresh? That was spinning around in my head for a while, that Ezra Pound mantra, make it new.
This morning I still hadn’t quite figured out how I was going to do that. But, for whatever reason, I was in a foul mood. My presence would have made milk curdle. I was radiating fucking malice. If you’ve ever experienced me in that state you’ll know it’s best to steer clear, I’ll never take it out on you, but I won’t be particularly good company, and it has made people genuinely upset in the past.
After doing some have to dos, I sat down at my desk, pulled out my diary ( yes I keep a diary, I know right, the narcissistic brooding is really just oozing from this piece isn’t it?), and stuck on Ryuichi Sakamoto’s Playing the Piano (I’m racking up those just obscure enough to be cool cultural references too amn’t I?) and began to write.
I was fully prepared to rip a fucking hole in the page with my pen. I got maybe two sentences in and all that latent rage just melted away. The furore flowed out of me, through the tip of the pen and onto the page. I just felt better. I even had a bit of an epiphany (look at me being Joycean);
I don’t write these scabs for anyone else. It’s not about showing off or being a good writer, or innovation within a form, or who reads it, or what the fuck they think about it.
I write them for me. They’re about growth, and coming to terms with and understanding how I feel about things and myself.
I had to stop writing this for a few moments because that realisation made me cry. It’s the same whether you’re writing a diary or a short story, or a play or a novel or a film. Creativity isn’t expression, it’s exploration. It’s an trip into The Garden of Forking Paths, it’s you looking into yourself and trying figure out what in the name of fuck is going on.
Writing has always been my way of understanding myself, whether I knew I was doing it or not. It has never been and will never be about, nor for, anyone other than me. And if a form, however formulaic it might be, helps me to do that, if it functions as some rudimentary map for traversing the labyrinth then what’s wrong with it. I don’t need to make it new, I need to make it me. To feel that formula isn’t creative is nonsense, notes are just noise, it’s the spaces in between that make the music.