A Room of My Own competition – Highly Commended: Katie Kirkpatrick

Recorded on date : November 30, 2020

Prologue to Writing

Where does the prologue to the writing happen? Where do the ideas, the plot twists, the metaphors, the characters happen?

They happen on buses that come twenty minutes too late; on empty carriages on trains at 10.47 and on packed tube carriages on the Piccadilly line. On cycle rides, twice daily, through sweltering sun and over frozen ground. They happen in transit – on the move. Sights blurring past in windows become settings, become sprawling cities, fantastical lands, secluded spaces.

They happen in moments of eye contact, of inside jokes and smiles that dissipate into the October air. And in walks into town in the unending rain, huddling and giggling in shop windows; they happen under duvets in bedrooms at 2am on sleepovers, and in cafes, waiting, still waiting, for coffee to arrive but drinking each other in the meantime. They happen in our bodies, in our minds, in the space between us, where a fully formed character materialises, stepping out of the air and onto the page.

They happen in the time spent waiting, picking the skin around your nails, hanging in the balance. In the craving for something, anything, to happen and the nervous confidence that it will. Soon enough. In this waiting is the rising tension, the twists and turns and time spent not knowing.

They happen in the dark. The quiet. They happen when your throat aches from crying and not crying and crying. When you can’t keep your eyes open. When the words you hear are exactly the words you’ve been dreading. They happen gratingly, slowly, painfully. And from them come moments of rebirth.

They happen in the sun too. In perfect beams of light dancing through the leaves; in the sweet sort-of-silence of birdsong. They happen in hands held, in guitar music and shouted singing, in fireworks, in lemon tarts, in stage lighting, in the coming of evening, in poems, in messages, in karaoke, in board games, in concert halls, in cardigans, in adventures, in certificates, in emails, in takeaways, in London streets, in coffee, in plans carried out and promises kept. Happy endings, and carrying on.

The prologue to the writing is the living. Not just the things that everyone tells you are worth writing about: every word comes from something, someone, somewhere. We need it to write, all of it. And we need ourselves – flesh and blood and brain and pen and pencil – to piece it all together, bit by bit, note by note, and pull out the novels, the poems. Before a room of one’s own comes a life of one’s own.

Katie Kirkpatrick

17 years old

Hills Road Sixth Form College, Cambridge

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