In this article, the sixth in a series with SPOTLIGHT authors, Georgina Aboud shares her thoughts on writing. Georgina Aboud’s short story, Cora Vincent, is published by Myriad Editions.
Spotlight Books is a collaboration between Creative Future, New Writing South and Myriad Editions to discover, guide and support writers who are under-represented due to mental or physical health issues, disability, race, class, gender identity or social circumstance.
See all articles in this series.
Before my flatmate moved in, I wrote stories in the living room, sitting at a table which housed a small cactus called Fred and a red rotary dial telephone which only my Uncle Pat would ring me on. When he died and took with him one of the guiding ropes that kept me tethered to the earth, the phone was silent for months. It began to ring again about a year later, with ambulance-chasing claims companies, and before they had the chance to ask whether I’d been in a car accident that wasn’t my fault, there was always a couple of seconds of silence, of lines connecting, in the same way there was when Uncle Pat used to phone. I held my breath in those seconds and would wait for his ‘Ello Dolly’ to skip across time and space. Those few seconds were transportation to when I was 5 or 10 or 35, and I sat in his sun splattered kitchen in Ealing and he sung to me whist cooking spuds and red lead over a 1960s Belling. And after the claim companies broke the spell and I told them yes I was involved in a car accident but it was my fault because, you know, I love a fast car, I returned to the writing, with Uncle Pat and old versions of myself spilling out onto the page.
Now I have a leaning desk in my bedroom, smaller and more contained with fairy lights. The red phone remains in the living room and the internet can’t climb around the corners, so there is far less distraction. The words in this less expansive space still come as slowly as they did before, sometimes they rattle around and spit onto the page and other days they just rattle about, never quite finding their exit.
And on the whole that is ok, because this writing thing is a bit of a compulsion, (i.e. it’s never sated and the end result is rarely satisfying) so whilst the tables that I lean on are transitional, the thinking and writing of fragments are a constant, with notes being made on receipts in a supermarket in rush hour, or on buses where a line of dialogue is so perfect, it captures a person’s entire world. And at night, when I can’t sleep I make notes on my phone whilst the couple upstairs argue and I wonder about the early magic of people falling in love, and the slow drip from thinking they will never feel anything different, to the exact point when one or both knows it’s over.
And I wonder what gets a person up in the morning, what propels a person forward despite it all, the microseconds on which entire lives can be built and shaped, how history is made up of us. Script doctors ask what is the motivation of that character, but what is the motivation of any of us? Aren’t we just staggering around in the dark and in the light? For me, writing is just an exploratory mechanism which allows me to sink my feet into borrowed shoes and think about life in lands that I want to walk through; to smell their earth, and watch their cities drift into daybreak. Writing allows me to stretch inside and pretend I can understand what’s going on because, really, we can never reach the bedrock of anyone, there are too many facets and variables and situations we haven’t yet found ourselves in, may never find ourselves in, to truly know who we are or what we could become.
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Georgina Aboud is an award-winning short story writer. Her previous work on international development issues, where she specialised in gender, climate change and food security, has taken her around the world. She has observed elections in Kosovo, Macedonia and Ukraine, collaborated with forest and mountain communities in India and Colombia, worked on briefing papers in Bangladesh, and pulled pints in Peru. She lives in Hove, East Sussex.