I was born in Spain. I have been asked if I am from a whole bunch of places in my lifetime based on appearance and accent.I left Spain aged oh sweet sixteen to study in a liberal IB college. I moved up north and was adopted by Salford and later Manchester. I often feel more Mancunian than I do Spanish. I only hold a Spanish passport but where do I actually belong?
University life was a shock for me. I had come from two schools where further questions were always welcomed; I had been taught to think everywhere and it felt like I was being pushed into the proverbial box, with a lid no less. I changed degrees after my first year and completed my bitter-sweet degree (Politics and Sociology, just in case you are wondering).
I considered going to London at that point. I got a place for MA International Journalism (after having to prove that I could speak and write English, which I did, by way of an IOLETS exam). I also got a place in Manchester for MA Creative Writing. The interview was easy and complimentary: the head of the department was also bilingual and understood my issues with figuring out where and whom I belonged to. I have since learnt I belong to myself. 😉
I stayed in Manchester. I worked on a cyberpunk novel(la) I (still) call LifeLine. I had started writing it during my last year doing Politics and Sociology and developed it from a YA light Manchester based clubbing story into, well, something else. A number of people (at least one became very popular) in the course wrote about present time Manchester and I did not want to write another MancSoul-Innit ’00s disposable. I went all out and invented a whole new world including technology and the music they would listen to. I have the most crass “lyrics” lying around but I do not think they are fit for public consumption. This was the year 2000. Since then, a lot of the technology is commonplace (my PalmLog became your SmartPhone for example). I was frustrated by this. The novel was handed in as an assignment, along a piece of serious fake PR assuring everyone who read that I would cover all my costs immediately, as I was prime publishing poultry. Except I was not, or did not have the faith and drive any more.
By the end of the MA (awarded, bien sûr) I had the journalism questions in my head again. Spurred by one of my housemate’s return to education, I enrolled in an undergraduate Journalism and Design Studies degree. The mistake there was to go for undergraduate training, but I needed to skim my wall of knowledge. I was working at the time and struggled with time management. I thoroughly enjoyed the first year and this showed in my grades. By the second semester of the second year I was hitting my head against a wall: I was not allowed to take a module due to clashes with a compulsory class and the other module I had actively been waiting for had been cancelled (HTML). I felt there was no point working to pay a degree that was not teaching me what I wanted to learn. I never completed the final year (although I was invited to retake the design modules I had missed and drop the journalism side of the degree. That was nice of them).
Why am I sharing all this? To give an idea of the mélange I have become. I do not place official education above other ways of learning but the academic outline of the last two decades helps me keep track of what happened when.
It is work that has seeped into my writing. You could match up a lot of my poetry with my CV. I was (and brought into my writing) a part-time book seller; a vending machine services lead generator, and an insurance claims handler but the one that really wins is “technical support agent” (and all that came after. Seven long years of telecommunications have really made a mark).
Medicine and ailments feature heavily in my work too. I have not felt well in quite a while. Biggest enemies: headaches and nausea.
Now I feel that there might be enough here to help decipher my work. I am cryptic not so much by choice but by nature, because I see the world how I write it, and I most definitely write how I speak; riddles and analogies that help explain or make sense of what it is hard (for me) to understand sometimes.
One last clue: I have to step back to see the big picture but my eye is drawn (and my instinct on fire) to the detail of things (Devil is in the detail, and for that I tend to play its advocate).
I think I need to come out from under the rocks and that is hard for a shadow loving creature, but I am going to do it, including taking back some of the control I have lost over my wellbeing and my Now. Nevermind the future just yet.
*Photograph: “This is not a plaster” Abstract by MF