Dan Holloway, one of the performers in Bed Time Tales, talks about why he writes...
When I’m not writing, I spend a lot of my time running. I run on trails and over long distances – 100 kilometres is the furthest I’ve run to date. I run alone and at night through worlds no-one else sees, experiencing sensual spaces no-one else will ever inhabit.
I run for the same reason I write. To go to places that the people I pass in the street every day may never visit. Running and writing are the two sides of what it means to be outside: the literal and the metaphorical.
A few months ago I took part in Warren Adler’s Writers of the World project, which asks the very simple question, “Why do you write?” At the heart of my answer was the same idea, that of writing as an outsider, for outsiders, captured in the line:
“Because every night I was alone with just a razor and despair to call my own a hundred strangers placed their pens upon my bones and held me while they made their dreams my home.”
When you are an outsider for whatever reason – in my case because I had lived with cyclically debilitating mental illness since I was 15 – the maps we see in the books housed in our schools and our libraries and our homes present a world in negative. Like a map of the acuity of the eye, there is a detailed central field. And outside of that field everything is stretched and distorted and blurred like some surrealist fantasy of Freud’s unheimlich. In that disfigured space, like creatures from society’s id, is where the wild things are, where be dragons, where the freaks hide in shadows waiting to do whatever it is freaks do.
Only we know the monsters live in plain sight. They are the light shining into the darkness with its sharp edges and certainty, its conventions and its paradigms.
The moment I became happy with my writing was the moment I realised the warning on the map had been mislabelled. I stopped knocking at the door to get in and started putting words to the spaces that made others fearful. Because the distortions and disfigurations out here are breathtakingly beautiful and it’s time that more people took the time to paint them with their pens, took time to show the freaks living as a diaspora in a world of normal that others see the same exquisite things they do.
Among other people is the loneliest place in the world, and at the times when we feel the chill of absolute isolation in the crowd, it is stories that remind us we are not alone. The piece I have written for Bed Time Tales, Stitch, is a very literal illustration of the very simple truth that friendship is out there waiting in the dark if we just have the courage to turn off the light.
Dan will be appearing at Bed Times Tales on Thursday 31 March. You can find out more about Dan at: http://danholloway.wordpress.com
(Picture depicts Dan, with a special edition of my poetic fairytale SKIN BOOK, which forms part of my collection The Transparency of Sutures, available for 99p from Amazon.)