Letting Go (or, Did I ever really have a grip?)

How bound together is my writing and me?

And by writing, I mean my actual output, ideas shared in the form of reflective opinion pieces (like this one) or short stories (like this – wow, what shameless self-promotion) or my novels (sorry, no links yet). At times, I have been consumed by the belief of how entwined and inseparable we are.

As I see it, my writing is my possession. Where I go, it goes. Where it goes, I follow.

What am I trying to say here?

My writing (my form of passionate expression) will lift me up, will be my golden ticket and my Wonkavator all wrapped into one. Doors will open. New and exciting connections will be made.

We are not separate. How I live my life and how I perceive the world will influence how I express myself as a writer. We come together – we’re a package deal.

Except, what if we’re not?

searching-for-sugar-man-dvd-ukA couple of weeks ago a friend recommended a 2012 documentary by Swedish film maker, Malik Bendjelloul (1977-2014) called Searching for Sugar Man. The film tells the incredible true story of Rodriguez, the greatest ’70s rock icon who never was.

Virtually unknown in America, the Dylan-esque Rodriguez’s two albums, Cold Fact and Coming From Reality vanished into obscurity. However, 8,000 miles away in South Africa, after a bootleg copy was brought in from the States and shared amongst friends throughout Cape Town, the music resonated deeply with the country’s youth who were experiencing the confusion and fear of the violently oppressive Apartheid system.

Unbeknownst, it seems to anyone outside of South Africa, including Rodriguez and his record label, over the course of more than 20 years, his albums combined sold more than half-a-million copies.

And thus, the journey documented in Searching for Sugar Man begins.

That an artist could be so removed from the life of his art was hard to accept. This remarkable story was a slap to my face. I can’t hold my writing so tightly and be so bound to its outcome.

For my writing to become whatever it’s meant to be, I need to move beyond it being mine.

The expression and craft is my own but the product is wholly its own thing; needs time and space to develop its own voice and character.

So, is it a case of me learning to let go, or realising I never had a grip in the first place?

Ken Ward