My entry for this week’s theme https://thanetcreativewriters.wordpress.com/2017/04/11/what-stops-me-writing/
What stops me writing
It’s my own fault. I suppose I was stupid really. And I’m supposed to be the smart one. Always been able to pull the wool over someone’s eyes. Ever since school days: for example, I had the girls absolutely convinced my father was a KGB spy. It didn’t take much – a page of Cyrillic writing at the back of my homework notebook, casually left open in the class; a few Eastern European sounding names amongst the contacts on my mobile phone; even just reading Le Carré for my Eng Lit project. I guess that’s where I cut my teeth, but it was much later that I realised how easy it is to extract money from gullible people.
And I have had a successful ‘career’, if that’s what you call it, as a psychic. Do I have real psychic powers? Oh, come on, what do you think? My mother used to take me to sessions with various kinds of psychics: there were plenty of those at the local community centre, or some of the bigger names held their sessions in the Astor Theatre. She was seriously into it, and always hoped she would get messages from my dead father. Sad, really, but it did make me realise that a lot of people derive comfort from these things, and who are we to condemn or criticise that? But I watched the ‘psychics’ closely, and what I learned from all those sessions was the importance of the power of observation, inference and intuition, and the mental agility to change direction according to prompts – the odd word here, a glance there, and the start of a tear in the subject’s eye. So after my mother ‘passed on’ (though I’ve no idea where she ‘passed on’ to!), I set up my own sessions. It only took three years for my clientele to expand enough for me to open my own ‘salon’, mostly through word-of-mouth and a few articles in magazines.
My USP was the use of ‘automatic writing’, a concept I learned from reading the work of the surrealist poets like André Breton and Paul Eluard. I even learned it’s got a proper name – psychography – and it’s not hard to simulate if you’re a half decent actor, which I certainly was. And people were fascinated by the idea that words would appear on the A3 sheet in front of me, my hand guided by an unseen power channelled from the spirit world, in response to the aura of my subject. My clients invariably went away happy, and my savings account grew along with my fame. I became more and more greedy for publicity and the flood of new clients that it would bring. I guess that was my downfall.
It was that journalist from Bizarre magazine that caught me out. You remember the article: ‘What Gets You Writing?’. That’s how she started her interview: “So what is it that gets you writing? How does it work?”, she asked. I thought she looked like the office junior, just sent out to get a quick story, and I suppose that lulled me into a false sense of security, and I wasn’t trying hard enough to work the usual tricks of the trade. I wasn’t to know that she was a very smart investigative journalist from the BBC Panorama team. What an actor she was! Perfect, down to the tone of voice, the shoddy clothes and the shocked reaction to my ‘revelations’. A brilliant con artist, and believe me it takes one to know one. And that’s why I’ve ended up here, hoist by my own petard.
My reverie was interrupted by the voice of the court usher, and I looked over to the twelve good men and true seated opposite me. “Do you find the defendant guilty or not guilty of the charge of fraud?”
So ironically, for someone who has amassed her fortune by producing words, it was the single word “Guilty” that ultimately stopped me writing.