Today’s is a guest-post from a good friend, Rafael S.W. When I talk about those people that support me with my writing, Raf’s one of those I’m referring to.
He’s weighed in on what I wrote about last week – about the conditions under which we need or prefer to write.
I have started to be very aware of light levels in my writing. As I type this, I am in my grandmother’s kitchen because that is the only place I can be in her apartment that means I can have some lights on but none that are in my face. I spent a fair few minutes flicking different lights on and off before deciding on how I wanted it. This might sound weird, but I have become somewhat of a light connoisseur. I used to have one of those touch-lamps that could change the level depending on how I felt and what I wanted to write (the brightest setting for seriousness, essays / a completely dark room except for the lowest setting when I wanted to write poetry). Then I broke it. And now at home I write while my new lamp (which doesn’t dim) is covered in paper, with one of the two bulbs taken out, and it sits behind my door.
Where did this come from? Was it in the single moment where a girl first took me to her room and it was lit by nothing by Christmas lights? Was it when I walked home from 4 am parties and spoke poetry into my phone while the streetlights dimmed the road ahead of me? Was it when I first noticed how beautiful skin looked in the blue wash of a laptop screen? I don’t know, but ever since I’ve been writing with a light level that reflects my mood, my writing has felt smoother, less forced.
I have heard that the converse is true too. I have a friend who is completely impacted by the halogen brightness of trains at night. If he sits on a seat underneath one of the ones that flickers, however minutely, he might not even notice, but after a few stations his mood will sour, he sometimes even gets headaches. And only when he sees the spasmodic winking of the light overhead will he have an explanation for while he suddenly feels terrible.
I’m a strong believer in writing in a way that works for you, however weird. If it’s upside-down to candlelight, then so be it.
“That’s bad light there.” Says my grandmother, coming out from her room, squinting a little in the gloom. “Can you see alright there?”
Enough, yes, I can see enough.