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  • belgreenwood

A Beginning...

Updated: Nov 24, 2021


I had no idea that remembering would be so visceral - the act of it feels almost physical. I find myself recalling events and sensations at odd moments at all times of day or night. I am even dreaming of the past. At the moment, I am being very linear as if it is the only way to control the evolution of things caught in my consciousness although that is not how memory works, and one image can spark a hundred connections breaking through time and making a joke out of structure.


This is my first blog post about the writing of this book which is calling on women, on those who have grown up in working class families, to participate and respond. This is a book in process and I invite you to come with me as I uncover the past, the implications and real world impacts of growing up in a working class family and our relationship with language, with books and writing. And I ask that you respond and send me your thoughts, recollections, ideas and incidents that have defined your relationship with words and writing. You can leave a comment or write to me by email bel.greenwood@gmail.com


I have no idea if the very beginning of what I have started to write will remain. At this stage it is very much about capturing things I have forgotten, sometimes researching the name of a road, the back history of a school and having sudden realisations which can be quite emotional. For example, I realise that I know almost nothing about my maternal grandmother, only her name not even the year she was born, and two over-riding facts which have formed her narrative. The first is that she married my grandfather at 18 and they stayed together until her death. The second that she lost her 12 year old daughter to a liver disease and my mother was born in that year of grief and silence. I am haunted by this lost history, how little was said, and nothing recorded. This is what happens in working class families - words drift off, stories are untold. Maybe it is because there is too much to do in the present to begin to know and preserve the past. Too much everyday survival leaves little room for anything else.


A word about this illustration by my friend Simon M. Smith. It is an image that I feel represents what I want to do with this book. The bird escaping an enclosed yard or a prison. To me, the bird is words and writing and the dreams they create of flying to freedom.


This is an extract from my first chapter.


'These are my recollections, my stories and so my truth. It is also my ‘writing cure,’ a seeking to understand how words can bandage our wounds. I take this idea from E.M. Cioran, the Romanian writer of autobiographical aphorisms – who said in an interview with Fernando Savater[1] ‘Writing for me is a form of therapy, nothing more.’ I am sure the writing of this book is also a therapy since it is an act of gratitude and a seeking to understand the meaning and the power to transform of the words I have gathered and lived by. But I also grew up in a world of silence, of the unspoken, and hidden truths. These silences stretch back through more than one or two generations, as if at their core, the unknowing is an undoing of family history.

Today I stand in a liminal space between social classes and their coded language, between belonging and abandonment, dream and reality. As I grew up in a working-class family and moved away so my language altered and moved with me. I put on my coat of words and walked into the years.'

[1] Fernando Savater is a Portuguese philosopher and writer.


Please get in touch with me if you would like to take part in this conversation about the meaning of class, words and how it shapes us.




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5 Comments


camillabalshaw
Dec 04, 2021

This looks so good, Bel! Count me in. Xx

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thelivingartscompany
Nov 26, 2021

Hi,I am interested!!

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belgreenwood
Jan 19, 2022
Replying to

Dear Living Arts Company,


It is lovely to hear of your interest - please do comment. It has taken a while to get the project going but I am trying to move it forward at a pace and there are comments on the next post. It would be great to have your input.


Belona

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amanderwellings
amanderwellings
Nov 23, 2021

I would very much like to be part of this, somewhere else to park my creativity, that took too long to flourish, as my memories always put me down and it took years to rise above that and believe in myself

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Simone Chalkley
Simone Chalkley
Nov 23, 2021

So much of this rings true. I can't wait to see where this goes. I am very much up for participating too.

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