I took creative writing classes at university – I have a lot to thank that class for, possibly more than I can articulate. I met American K in the writing class; I learnt more about literature in writing class than I did in a number of literature-specific classes; I learnt more about myself than I had ever done in my mother’s attempts at ‘therapy’; I read a wide variety of other students’ writing; I interacted with a number of people whose cultures and experiences were completely different to my own; and I met Corpse Girl.
Corpse Girl wore a chocolate brown puffa jacket and had long, brown, drowned-Ophelia lank hair. She wore pale foundation on her round face. Corpse Girl really tried hard, I believe she aspired to Victorian heroinehood, she was clever and intelligent, but she was constrained by conventionality and a lack of creativity.
Corpse Girl was ahead of me when I went to collect my writing portfolio from the essay return box. I smiled at her and found my portfolio in the pile. Opening the page I sighed with relief – I had a very high 2:1. Corpse Girl sidled over; she too had got a good grade. She informed me that another girl, Carolina, had got an unprecedented double first. Corpse Girl had read Carolina’s portfolio on the sly. With pursed lips she waspishly said, “She wrote about reaching orgasm. If that’s what you need to get a double first then I’m never going to get one.”
Aside from the shocking breach in etiquette, I was astonished by Corpse Girl’s blindness to quality. Carolina deserved her double first. She wrote with a rare directness and passion about many difficult subjects, not just orgasm, infusing the reader with beauty, pain and understanding.
I sometimes wish I could write about different topics. Recently, I’ve been thinking about how I censor myself to save me and others embarrassment. Particularly, I would never write anything intimate about TA for public consumption, which is why you won’t be reading an account of our ‘marital relations’ or any of my past adventures here.
However, I admire other women (and men) writing with honesty, humour and perhaps bravery about their sex lives. In our porn-saturated, commoditised world it is a refreshing sanity check to be able to read unmediated accounts of the relations between people. Equally though, the writing I value most is that where every word is chosen with care and accuracy – the structure adds to the intensity of the prose and not only the subject matter but the means of expression is breathtaking and makes the heart race. Frankly, blogging does not often lend itself to this purity of expression married to devotion to craft. I tend to have higher hopes for novels. I wish someone would find Carolina and offer her a publishing deal.