Six blade knife ~ what my writing is to me
Your six blade knife can do anything for you
Anything you want it to
One blade for breaking my heart
One blade for tearing me apart
Your six blade knife-do anything for you
You can take away my mind like you take away the top of a tin
When you come up from behind and lay it down cold on my skin
Took a stone from my soul when I was lame
Just so you could make me tame
You take away my mind like you take away the top of a tin
I’d like to be free of it now – I don’t want it no more
I’d like to be free of it now – you know I don’t want it no more
Everybody got a knife it can be just what they want it to be
A needle a wife or something that you just can’t see
You know it keeps you strong
Yes and it’ll do me wrong
Your six blade knife – do anything for you
(six blade knife, dire straits)
It never surprised me as an adult how racked with angst my favourite song writer Mark Knopfler turned out to be. As a teen I listened to every album, every song, studying the words possibly harder than I studied Shakespeare. During my pre-teen years, I roamed the countryside, climbing trees, damming streams, whittling wood, and one of my prized possessions (much against the liking of my mother) was a pocket knife. It had only two blades, though. These days I have a suitably impressive Swiss army knife at the bottom of my handbag, ready for action. It has rather more than six blades, but you get the gist.
From a shockingly early age (before I could actually properly read, in fact) I wrote stories, so the songs I listened to were both a backdrop soundtrack and a constant source of inspiration. But they were always far deeper, far darker than the young me really understood. That’s why much of the music has stayed with me; I grew into it. (I grew out of Abba, though. I’d only got into it to try and fit in with my peers)
The symbiosis between music and writing is an ancient one, and Roz Morris’s Undercover Soundtrack explores in great depth and details the individual relationships between authors and their music. Yet it’s not music I want to write about today.
My six blade knife is writing. In the words of the song, it’ll “do anything for you.” The addictive, destructive aspect of a six blade knife is much underestimated. People prefer to focus on the benefits, quite understandably. It can be quite difficult to understand why someone would want to be rid of it “you know I don’t want it no more” when they would themselves rejoice in such a gift. Yet there are no unreciprocated gifts in this life: at some level you pay for everything. Exchanges of energy, perhaps, but you still pay. To use a cliché it’s a double-edged sword.
My writing, my books, my poetry come from deep inside me; my desire to share them comes from somewhere just as deep. It’s about balancing the figures, really. I have a gift with words; the price for having that gift is the obligation to share the product of the gift. I believe it’s not just a matter of personal choice. I tried not writing, I tried not sharing. Believe me when I say that my soul shrank and became wizened with both attempts.
When I hurt, I write. I capture the pain in words, and weave it into something that by some unseen alchemy eases the pain.
When I am angry, I write. The words cool and ease the fury, tempering it into something I can handle and analyse without harm.
When I am in joy, I write. I detail the fleeting, butterfly moments so I can remember their colours when the darkness comes again.
When I grieve, I write. By committing memories to paper, the dead can live again.
When I lose hope, I write. Somewhere in the gap between fingers and page, I find enough shreds of optimism to continue. The few seeds are enough to grow good plans.
When I am lonely, I write. The people who inhabit my dreams and daydreams are powerful companions of the soul, and the stories they tell me are meant for more than me alone.
When I am lost in darkness, I write. The spark of light is struck by the forging of words. It may only be a tiny will o’ the wisp, a flickering candle flame but the glow it sheds is warm and spreads wider than just my own fireside.
Words drive me. If you cut me like a stick of seaside rock, there would be words at my core. I see-saw between wanting to write and not wanting to write, to be free of something I love, that defines me and creates me, sentence by sentence. Many of you only know me by the words I put out into the world, the whittled sticks my six blade knife has crafted: knotted, twisted sculptures, that reveal the original shape like a ghost in the machine. So much of my work is about self-discovery and exploration of the soul, but it’s also about self revelation and confession, because I believe deep down that we are not alone, that we are all connected.
My six blade knife is writing. But it cuts deep when it has to. And not merely the wood I carve with words.