Wednesday, 5 January 2022

The Writer as Outsider


 For several years now, perhaps triggered by the isolation engendered by the Covid situation, I have spent much of my time - as I say in a recent blog post (scroll down) - dancing on the border between memoir and fiction.

One outcome of this has been my new collection This has resulted in at least one distinct collection called Siblings: seven distinct stories of a family of seven siblings. The stories are all told by the middle child – called Ayla. She is the storyteller.

This book will be published in the spring but you can listen again to these stories on Bishop FM. 

I have written elsewhere about middle children – for example in my novels The Bad Child and Becoming Alice. Inevitably some observers will say that is this is a deep reflection on my own role as the middle child in a diverse family who relishes the role of the outsider.   

But I would assert that this outsider feeling transforms itself to a creative resource when one is a writer who can reflect on the events going on around her.

There is a poem about this feeling in my book WithSuch Caution – a Life Glimpsed in Short pieces. 

I thought you might like to read it. Here it is, Wx

Being the third child of four
I was bred to be an outsider.
Being the new child from a far town
I was labelled outsider.
Talking with the wrong tone
I was seen as a verbal outsider.
Being the cleverest child in class
made me an outsider.
Working alongside men
I was the female outsider.
Writing stories made me
a mendacious outsider.
Living with a man doesn’t see
I have become an invisible outsider. –
Learning to make myself comfortable
In this ultimate containment.
Now, living through to older age
I am an intimate outsider, even
the ultimate outsider, relishing
this … Outsiderness.

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