My name shifted up the waitlist and I got a seat at the Dog Eared Readings last night. With Shannon Burns in conversation with J.M. Coetzee it was never going to be anything except extraordinary. Naturally, it left me with that strange dissonance I always experience after such events. On the on hand, exhilaration from being witness to such depth of thought and thinking. On the other, despair. What’s the point of living a writing life when you know you are never going to achieve that level not only of perception but of connection with your readers and audience.
It also reminded me how entrenched I am on the fringes of everything, a result partly of my level of (okay, but not outstanding) talent, partly of being a little bit in a lot of things but not fully immersed in any, partly of being a little bit lazy and not doing enough work, partly of being too shy etceterarrgghhh. Most of the time I’m not only reconciled to my life on the fringes of our arts scenes, but leaning into it. Every now and then, however, I can’t help wishing I were slightly more successful.
No time for self-pity though, because I’m reading an extract of my new show at the SA Playwrights Theatre staged readings this evening and the deadline is, as always, an excellent distraction. I know telling you that I’m reading seems to contradict my previously discussed status of being on the fringe, but the rest of the lineup is a solid range of talent invited to be in curated programs and a list of prizes and none of them will know my work at all.
I do know this all sounds angsty and self-pitying, but it honestly isn’t. Like I say, I’m mostly at peace with who I am and where I’ve ended up. But it’s useful to leave myself little reminders when this feeling sneaks in, so that next time I feel it, I can look back over things, think, ‘oh, that’s right, this again,’ and move on.
What I especially loved about last night was the discussion of class. My own notions of class are ridiculously outdated I know. My sense of connection to my working class background is, by now, highly romanticised. My children would have absolutely no sense of what it means to feel working class. I’m not sure what to do with that knowledge, especially in the context of the referendum result.
I’m going to have leave this here as a placeholder because it’s 2.30 which is the time I promised myself I’d get back to work. But it’s something I’d like to explore in more depth, if I can work out where to start.