A Valentine’s Day Thread

It’s Valentine’s Day and I have spent most of the day sending ridiculous pictures and messages to the people I love. The more unsettling or disgusting or overly sentimental the better. It is my favourite thing to do on Valentine’s Day, to send these messages to the people I love to make them laugh.

I read the posts on social media and in the newspapers; funny, sincere, embarrassingly private posts that are there for the world to see because it seems that today people feel like they can express themselves to their loved ones. There are the other posts too, the self-depreciating  posts of single people, the ‘ roses are red, poems are hard, let’s drink wine’ type of posts. I love them too.

I read the collection of love stories that the New Yorker has collated. I wonder if I wrote a story called ‘The Love of My Life’ how many of my ex-boyfriends would think it’s about them.  I wonder if I should try and then remember that one of them still buys me dinner sometimes so he can ‘support the arts’ so decide it’s better not to risk that particular perk.

***

I read the transcript of a speech given by Kevin Birmingham on receiving the Truman Capote Award for Literary Criticism in which he says “Narrative Historicism is like any other historicism in that it assumes a text’s significance is not immanent but rather radiates outward from the author to the author’s family, influences, preoccupations, and further outward to friends and allies, editors and publishers… Historicists think all of these ghosts are hovering nearby whenever a reader picks up a book”

And I think about all the people I have come into contact with, those who have influenced me; whether in a tangible sense or in a way I haven’t realised.

I think that when I write, that I’m the only person who could have ever had the particular emotion I’m trying to capture. That my thoughts and feelings are unique to me. But they’re not and they are not. Even though I think the words I use to describe something, a feeling or a glimpse of something else, come from somewhere secret inside me – they don’t. I’ve been influenced by everyone around me. My friends. Co-workers. Housemates. Strangers on the bus who smile at me.

I love the idea of tiny strands linking all of this. How my stories and poems have been threaded together by the meeting of hundreds of people. A cobweb growing larger and stronger.

I write what I write because my friend in England hates cinnamon and my housemate only has one pair of heels in Australia and my love listens to Pink Floyd records and when I was little I wanted to be a shepherd.

I think this is something that is good to remember: that art doesn’t belong to it’s creator; instead it’s something that links us. It’s the tangible connection between people that makes it so important.

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