The time you have left

‘As you get older, the questions come down to about two or three. How long? And what do I do with the time I’ve got left?’  David  Bowie

‘And it’s a human need to be told stories.  The more we’re governed by idiots and have no control over our destinies, the more we need to tell stories to each other, about who we are, why we are, where we come from and what might be possible.’  Alan Rickman

Before Monday I knew exactly what this blog was going to be about.

I’d had a great start to my writing year, with one short story – Dinner for Four – published in Shooter Lit and another – Charis -Highly Commended in the Words and Women Prose Competition and due to be published by Unthank in Words and Women: 3

And then David Bowie died.  So many thousands of words have been written, tears shed, songs listened to and discussed, posts shared, quotes quoted, tributes piling up in Brixton and Berlin.  I’ve got his music playing as I write this, I’ve gone to sleep and woken up thinking of him all week.  My copy of Blackstar still hasn’t been delivered, but when I ordered it I thought ‘oh well, no rush, he’s not going anywhere’.

On Thursday, Alan Rickman died.  Also 69, also cancer, also an icon to so many.  I was so shell-shocked by Bowie that I couldn’t take it in, even though I’d loved him as an actor for years – and yes, I am one of those people who can say ‘well I saw him on stage long before Die Hard’.

They were both storytellers, both used their lives to create and create change.

While I was thinking of where to submit my two stories, I read a blog that said ‘don’t write about dementia and don’t write anything based on the bible .’  Well, that was me fucked right there.  Charis is about dementia and Dinner for Four is set in a curry house where four warring siblings – who also happen to be the four horsepeople of the Apocalypse – are having their once a year dinner because their father has ordered them to.

I then went to a meeting of our brilliant short story critique group.  We discussed the blog and everyone’s advice was ‘just ignore it’.  So I did and submitted and here we are.

I write what I write.  I like writing odd, surreal takes on things.  I love my four horsepeople and am currently planning a sequel.  And yes, as Bowie so rightly said – what do you do with the time you have left? David Bowie, who died at 69 leaving us more gifts than we can number and who turned his death into art perhaps because that was the only way he could deal with it.  The only thing he could do with it.  Because what else would that man do?

So this is not the blog I meant to write, but it’s the one I’ve written, and I will continue to write what I write, no matter what blogs advise.

Because it’s about the stories – and if we’re grieving their loss, not as family members or friends, but as part of the huge mass of people whose lives they affected – perhaps the best thing we can do is to tell stories, in the best, most creative, most truthful way we can.  Because we will always need stories.