‘Ghostee’ and finding your voice as a writer

To most of us, this may just look like graffiti, but I think it could also be someone trying to find their voice. I thought about this as I walked past it twelve times this morning, on my morning walk. I don’t like graffiti, but, these authors, and they are authors, are just trying to find their voice, like the rest of us.

It may not be the way we would approach the journey, but we all did stupid things when we were young (I’m assuming most graffiti authors aren’t seventy year old retirees lurking about in the dark at night with their leftover tins of house paint). My current self can’t believe some of the things I did when I was young. It’s like we walk around with walnut-sized brains until we’re about thirty, then we look back in horror at what our past selves did.

When I was young I rode down a steep hill on my bike with no brakes, and burnt through my thongs trying to stop, then swerved into oncoming traffic at a T-intersection at the bottom of the hill, whilst pulling my bike into a sharp left, then landing in a large pile of sand. My friend laughed so much she wet her pants, then rode down the hill with no brakes herself because I said it wasn’t funny. Then, it may have been the same week, we filled every lock in the local school with bubble gum. It was Friday, so by Monday it would have been rock hard.

And it got me thinking about ‘Ghostee’, and their journey, and I wondered who they were, and why they lurked in the dark at night painting their author name on electricity boxes, and overhead railway bridges (I saw their tag one day whilst driving under the overhead bridge in a taxi on the way to the vet.) And I wondered why their tag was dripping paint, and if maybe they had run out of spray paint and used an old tin of house paint and a brush from their garage at home.

I think Ghostee may be trying to find their voice, just like us. They’re saying: ‘this is me! I’m here! And my name is Ghostee!’ It’s probably not, it’s probably Raymond Fletcher, who’s fourteen and lives three streets away from the park. But, maybe he thinks we won’t guess that. Maybe he thinks we’ll think this is the tag of a cool graffiti artist, who climbs on overhead railway bridges at night and paints their name on the side. And I hope, Raymond Fletcher, that you don’t do that again, because you might fall, and your family will never understand what you were doing on a railway bridge in the middle of the night, and I will see your name in the local paper, next to a photo of your tag, and think of you every time I pass the electricity box on my morning walk.

We are like Raymond Fletcher. We begin our writing lives writing graffiti tags on electricity boxes, and if we’re ‘brave’, on overhead bridges. (No, I don’t really think that’s brave, because I’m a grown adult who’s learnt about gravity and electric trains on bridges. But, when you’re fourteen, and your mates are daring you to do it, and Maeve Abernathy is sitting nearby watching you as she puffs on her E-cigarette, and twirls her hair around her index finger, and your brain is the size of a walnut that runs on hormones, you might write on the side of a bridge in the middle of the night just to impress everyone.)

Eventually, if we write enough tags on electricity boxes, we may graduate to poetry on our iPhone, hoping no one ever sees it, until we accidentally end up at a Poetry Slam in a pub, and hear the coolest girl on the planet pour her heart out, and our mouth is still open as she steps down off the stage, and we realise our life’s calling is to be the next Poetry Slam Pub Champion just so we can meet her.

Maybe our journey to find our voice as writers isn’t exactly like Raymond Fletcher’s, but finding our voice is a journey, and however you begin, and wherever you are on your journey is ok. All you have to know is just keep writing, and eventually you will find your ‘tag’, your voice, and you too could be the next Poetry Slam Pub Champion.


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