A walk to the station #13
It is still dark outside and we, the commuters trudging towards our daily destiny are lit only by the eerie glow of the streetlights, each light leading us closer to the monotony of our work, lamp by lamp, step by step, and it is so easy to write terrible clichéd stuff about place, isn’t it?
I enjoy reading about place and I enjoy writing about place but it is easy to fall into bad habits. So much writing about place is less about the actual space and more about the writer projecting their own preferences or prejudices upon it. I’m not sure this is avoidable. Or if it is, do you end up with something more akin to a manual than a meaningful piece of writing? Should writing about place be just that, or should it also be a means of understanding the author?
There is also the risk of falling into a formula. So much psychogeographic writing seems to follow a pattern. Writer goes for aimless walk. It is probably raining. They see an electricity pylon in a field and note the juxtaposition between technology and nature. They muse on graffiti, or a broken fence. Something about concrete. Then something alluding to the occult, suggesting their walk has this timeless, otherworldly depth and meaning. Then they go a pub and drink out of a dimpled jug.
I’m being a bit daft, and to be honest I don’t mind most of that kind of writing, I just think it is perpetually at risk of disappearing up its own backside. But isn’t most writing? And isn’t getting that balance right, or wrong, part of the fun?
Walking the same route and trying to write about the same route every day does make me think a little deeper about how to write about place generally. I think I better understand my weaknesses and my limitations. This morning I just couldn’t see the road. I was just stuck inside my own head, which probably isn’t all that helpful for a project like this.