I wish I didn’t have to work full time and could just do this instead- A Memoir
Have you ever told people that you were going to do something- take up an evening class, start a band, paint some kind of opus, travel India and build an orphanage- and you had every intention of doing it and even started to do it but then you just kind of…..didn’t? And then you sort of wanted to just forget all about it and destroy all evidence then you ever attempted such folly and move on with your life? But then you keep being haunted by inspirational memes you found on Pinterest that tell you that the only reason you haven’t achieved all of your dreams is because you’re a lazy bastard who watches too many VICE documentaries instead of actually doing some work towards your goals? And so, you’re gonna have to shake yourself out of your malaise and just bloody do the thing? Yeah….me neither.
Seriously though, all of the above applies to me. A few years ago, I had an idea- a notion of a project that would be super fun to write and completely badass when it is completed. A project that would take me all over this pleasant green land and possibly beyond, meeting awesome people and learning about their experiences and building a network of punks and skaters and artists and campaigners and activists and musicians and misfits and friends and heroines. It was going to be brilliant and vital and most importantly……it wasn’t going to take too long. 18 months maximum and then I would have this glorious thing to behold- a life’s work.
So….fast forward 5 years and it is still not finished. It’s not a million miles away but it is certainly not 5 years worth of work. And that kills me. Every day it is in the back of my mind, every spare minute I get I think “I could be working on this book” but unfortunately, so many things stalled it and the longer time went on, the harder it was to open up the files on my laptop and crack on with it. The half written chapters and unfinished thoughts became the mad wife in the attic; the ghost at the feast; the skeleton in the closet of the ‘My Documents’ folder. The book (which I will explain the gist of a bit further down) needed contributors, needed this network to present itself and develop, needed momentum. And whilst there was a period where it had this, it gradually ran out of steam. As Captain of the ship, I was supposed to give the project the energy it needed but there were so many others demands on my energy reserves- a full time job; other writing projects and hobbies; social stuff; life events etc. And although I never forgot about it, I felt that unless I could give it a certain minimum of attention, I would have to keep putting it off. And then 5 years later, here we are- so much ready potential, just needing another push.
So, it’s 2020 and the time for pushing has arrived- I’ve had an epiphany. Rather than focus on the end product and obsess about needing to write so many words, have so many chapters completed etc. I’m going to enjoy the process of actually writing it. Meeting people; learning new things about a genre of music I love; getting thoughts down on paper. With the pressure taken off, the true spirit of the project can thrive and it is quite exciting!
So, what actually is the book? In a nutshell, it is about women and punk- not IN punk, but AND punk. It is not an anthology of famous punk musicians- there has already been a lot written about Siouxsie Sioux; Debbie Harry; Kathleen Hanna and the like. This is about how fans of punk experienced the punk scene- listening to the songs; going to the gigs; dating punks; being friends with punks- without the benefit of notoriety or fame who were/are in amongst the people punk was made for.
Specifically, I want to know what it is/was like for women- did punk feel a safe place? Were you able to find music that represents your lived experience? Does it matter if there are not as many female punk musicians/promoters/engineers etc? How do the different subgenres of punk compare for their feminist credentials- what was it like being a punk women in 1977 compared with being a pop punk fan in 1999? Is punk feminist enough? Does it matter? What about other issues- racism, poverty, LGBT rights?
I do not know the answers to all of the above. I have a feeling the answers to all of the above will be- it depends. It depends on who you ask as everyone’s experiences are different. And that’s the whole point of the project because everyone’s experience is valid and I want to be able to chronicle as much of it as I can.
So, if you have any thoughts on the above and want to get involved- please get in touch. This year is THE year!