Today I start filming My Beautiful Psychosis the documentary through my production company Green Lane Films. It’s an authored film and will be different from the book because it’s mostly focussed on making sense of my experiences. I’m shooting a conversation with Kimberley Jones who had an awakening/crisis when her mother died. She’s always felt that she was receiving the download of her… Read more →
I’ve just sent off my next 10,000 words to Elizabeth Diamond to critique. This means I am now a third of the way into the book. It doesn’t feel nearly as daunting as it did in the beginning. I’m well into episode 3 of 7. I have bullet point notes that I made after each episode to jog my memory… Read more →
Here’s another extract with reference to a piece of music in. This time a classical number. Another one for the Booktrack soundtrack to my ebook.
“We’ve booked tickets to see a string quartet performing Vivaldi’s Four Seasons, which isn’t the kind of thing either of us would normally go to. But it’s so cultured in Venice that a classical concert feels compulsory so the poster stood out. It’s one we both know. Who doesn’t?
“It’s a fairly small space and the audience is sitting at the same level as the musicians. As the music begins, I try to picture a spring landscape so that I can connect with what Vivaldi was trying to portray. But it’s no use; I’m distracted, searching for the advert I’m only half remembering. Maybe it’s an airline company. Marco Polo Business Class with Cathay Pacific? Definitely something trying to get across a sense of class. I lure myself away from this thought by deliberately imagining a fawn frolicking in a woodland. But that doesn’t work either. It’s usurped by an image of a bunch of people dancing around a Baroque Ballroom in 18th Century grey wigs and too much white face powder. Then faint memories of another commercial steal my attention away again. How am I supposed to enjoy this? The music has so many associations my ears are too biased to hear it properly.
“I decide to stop trying so hard and instead I focus on the musicians’ bows moving in unison: two violins, a viola and a cello. I watch their fingers moving quickly across the strings and let out a sigh as I relax in my seat.
“Around each player is a purple glow, the same colour auras I saw in the hospital years ago. When I tense up they disappear but when I relax they appear again. I deliberately tighten up and let go a few more times to test this theory. I can definitely only see them when I’m in a relaxed state. They can’t possibly be hallucinations.”
Another musical extract that hasn’t been through the critique process for you this week.
“Back home I feel great. I put on a Nitin Sawhney album and stand in the middle of the room listening to the evocative sounds of the Indian instruments. A weird banjo like thing slides into a bluesy guitar. Then a male voice hums alongside a contemporary beat. A high female vocal in Hindi joins in, followed by a distant New York rapper.
“What do we do in these crazy times? I grab my synthetic white feather duster with a plastic handle and dance. A soulful woman’s voice takes the lead.
“Down by the river, Life flowing deeper, Tide growing stronger, No, you can’t hold can’t hold the river. The Hindi singer repeats her refrain between each verse bringing the sound of India into my living room. I stand with my feet wide apart and my hips pulse to the beat. There’s a strange pull in my lower belly, like a trickling stream made of air. The river is flowing through me.
“Inside my head I can hear it talking to me, Like the river to the ocean, I can feel it growing in me, And all day, all night, in the rhythm of the city, From the dusk to the dawn I can feel it flowing through me. I raise my right arm up to reach the cobwebbed corner above the stereo with the candyfloss like duster. A silky, liquid, golden, river of light flows from the handle to just below my belly button, where it is anchored. As I move the duster upwards, the ribbon grows longer to follow it. The gold is shimmering multi coloured, reflecting pink, purple and orange light like oil does on water. It looks like Computer Generated Imagery in a movie. I move my hand back towards me. Graceful folds take up the slack of the excess ribbon. It’s the most beautiful thing I’ve ever seen. They are perfectly spaced, sized and curved, the way a silken ribbon would curl and bounce.
“Down by the river, Life flowing deeper, Tide growing stronger, No, you can’t hold can’t hold the river. I dance on through to the kitchenclearing away the cobwebs. My body feels light and agile, a magical ribbon dancer.
“A jolt of fear rushes through me. What if I’m hallucinating? And the ribbon is gone.”
Are you ready for some strong cheese? I’m nervous about sharing this excerpt because it hasn’t been through the critique process of Elizabeth Diamond. But it’s another extract with a musical mention so here goes:
“It’s a two-day bus ride from Auckland to Wanaka. I’m tired from rushing around jetlagged, sending off CVs to all the TV production companies in the capital. I’ve got myself a mobile and not expecting any calls for work immediately and I can’t get out of the city fast enough. It’s good to finally stop and let the world pass by through the window rather than having to go out and get it.
“I’m traveling alone, a trip I planned before Oli and I got together. He looked hurt when I first mentioned it. But he’s seven years younger than I so I’m not taking the relationship that seriously. It’s the last year I qualify for a work visa now that I’m thirty and there’s nothing stopping him from joining me.
“Headphones on, I tune into a local radio station. Apart from the accent, there’s little to differentiate it from any other commercial stations back in the UK. Most of the songs are the same with the same over the top adverts. But it’s the soundtrack to my journey and I’m enjoying it in spite of myself. I watch the landscape change from an urban sprawl of tropical palm tree lined avenues to lush green hills and volcanic peaks.
“Na na na na na. Na na na na na. Ronan Keating catches me off guard with a jingly boyband beat, making my bus ride feel like a music video.
“Hey baby you really got my tail in a spin. Cut to a close up in my head of the bus wheel spinning.
“Hey baby I don’t even know where to begin. But baby I got one thing I want you to know. Wherever you go tell me ‘cause I’m gonna go. Cut to an image of Oli walking down a wide, open highway singing to camera.
“We found love, so don’t hide it. Life is a rollercoaster, just gotta ride it. I need you, so stop hiding. Our love is a mystery girl, let’s get beside it. The lyrics tug at my heart. I’ve come half way around the world to hear the UK’s No 1 tell me that I’ve found love. And I am hiding. My throat tightens up.
“Can’t you feel my heart? Don’t fight it fight it fight it. I wipe away the tears from my wet cheek and reach for the photo of Oli in my purse.”
Last week I discovered Booktrack which is an App that allows you to have an audio track in your ebook, bringing the world of the story alive as you read. This technology is perfect to get across the inner workings of the psyche in My Beautiful Psychosis. I can feel a crowd funding campaign coming on!
In the meantime I’m sharing some extracts that would create the musical track to my story. Number two on the playlist: The Lighthouse Family – ‘Lifted.’
“Dad drives sedately through the urban sprawl of Greater Manchester. After three weeks in hospital, my parents have pulled some strings and I’m discharged. I lean my head against the window and feel the rhythm of the flow of the traffic in tune with the music on the car stereo.
“When it all gets dark again, the whole thing falls apart I guess, it doesn’t really matter ‘bout the rain, ‘cause we’ll get through it anyway. The Lighthouse Family serenade me. We’ll get up and start again, ’cause we could be lifted.
‘Gifted more like,’ Dad jokes referring to all the get-well presents I’ve received. But I do feel lifted for a moment, lifted by the music, the perfect soundtrack to my journey back into the world.”
Every 10,000 words I send my chapters to published author and mentor Elizabeth Diamond for critique. Here’s her opening comment: The first thing that struck me on reading through your work, Emma, is how much tighter and more concise your writing is since I first read it. There was a lot to recommend it before, but now and then there was… Read more →
So far I’ve shared three different places from which I started the book. I worked backwards starting off right at the beginning of my first episode and then kept adding chapters in front to give more background and build up. It’s my first ever book so I’m just learning about narrative structure on a large scale. But there’s another opening,… Read more →
In order to be a writer, I’m told, you just have to write. So in order to start this book, I just started writing. What was uppermost in my mind was the insomnia that started the whole thing off. I decided I would write the best description of insomnia I could so that anyone who’s experienced might read it and… Read more →
Nearly 20,000 words in. Apparently a book needs to be about 90,000. I’m on Chapter 11 to give it more meaning to people who don’t count words, writing about episode 2 of 7. Episode as in psychotic episode but I don’t actually like to use that word so I just shorten it to episode. Caspar used to say when he… Read more →