Wednesday, 16 July 2014
Evidence that interviewing an inanimate object is a worthwhile activity
You don't have to be 'a writer' to do this exercise. You do, though, have to be prepared to discover some truths about yourself.
1. Choose an object which is important to you (or to a character in a story you are writing).
2. Ask it these questions (or any others you devise) and write down its answers. You may find the object unwilling to speak. In this case (where's a chatty object when you need one?!!!) imagine what it would have said, and in what kind of voice.
When did you first meet your owner?
What physical contact do you have with your owner?
Where are you kept?
How do you think your owner feels about you?
What do you think you represent for your owner?
In what ways are you like your owner?
I interviewed my teacher's planner, made notes on the replies, and then wrote these up in the planner's voice. Here is the result.
The teacher's planner speaks.
She hugs me to herself because she knows what would happen if she lost me. I am her oracle, her Delphi, and her reassurance.
When she was a trainee, in 2002-2003, she was given an unused 2001-2002 planner which just had 'Nigel Bates' scrawled inside the front cover, and she had to alter all the dates herself.
The first time I met her, then, was in the summer holidays before she began her first proper teaching post, and she kept repeating, 'I have my own planner! I have my own planner!' She did not know I would represent, in the names of 190 children written in my registers at the back, and in the six yawning spaces per day yet to be filled with lessons, a job in which she would flounder like an unpractised swimmer in an irritable sea.
She is very like me, in some respects. Her favourite colour is purple, and my cover is purple, and although I didn't get a choice over this, I'm willing to accept it in the light of her affection. Some planners are beige and, although the idea of a teacher's planner hierarchy seems absurd, I do think purple wins over beige every time. Not that you'd know that from the Paris fashion shows.
Also, like me, she has blank spaces. She knows her memory is not what it was and, just as she finds the sight of my many unfilled spaces frightening on a Sunday evening, so she is afraid when a name wriggles out of her consciousness, or someone's birthday skitters by her before she can grasp it as she used to.