I have begun a collaborative writing practice with an artist whom I consider a dear friend. I am engaged in long term letter writing with two people who were unknown to me when we began the process but now are as much part of me as childhood friends. But writing with E— is different. It is different because we are going to make it public in September, as part of the Making sense of madness conference. Yet, writing with E— is also similar to writing with (and I mean with, not to) L— and P—. Perhaps it is the intimacy we have created and the sense that what we are doing is not work, but fun. I have dropped everything – things I should probably not have dropped – to write my 300 word responses to her part of the cadavre exquis we are creating. P— and L— and I (not the three together, but in individual duets) have discussed the timing of our responses. I also wanted to drop everything to respond to them, but somehow I felt that would be disrespectful of their letter, as if I had not read it with enough care. But E– and I have the excuse of a deadline.
I worked in this way in the past, with S—. What we did was misunderstood but, I am pleased to say, remembered. I met someone recently, who should have known me from a particular place and a few friends in common but who instead remembered me in the context of reading the work with S. He was very taken by it and I could feel the experience had made a mark on him. Of course, seeing two people engage in dialogue, rather than academic discourse for the sake of it, is a lot more compelling.
With E, I have no idea where the paper is going – as I am ignorant of where L— and I, and P— and I are headed with our words, in the same way as my sessions with Dr Sh– were clouded in terms of a clear plan for my talking. What S— and I produced was open, in the way a performative event is open, stimulating thought more than position, unfinished, or, simply, stopped. We let time, and its constraints and contingencies be part of the paper. We offered ourselves implicitly to the writing and the speaking, asking our words (our works) what they wanted from us. And precisely this is what E– and I are writing about.
I want to thank S–, L–, P–, Dr Sh– and E–, for without them, without the reflective surface of their thoughts, my fun, engagement and, ultimately, love would not have been possible.