I once lived in Sheffield amongst a whole group of people I was unable to, erm, let's say connect with. I couldn't relate to any kind of group of individual; not townies, not rockers, not scene kids, not course mates, not flat mates, they were interested in the type of things that I found mundane, with the occasional exception. In all honesty the only reason I went to uni was to join a band and I discovered very quickly that that would not happen. As a result I found myself with masses of spare time on my hands, some of which was filled by band practice, myself and Harry (yep my guitar has a name). Some of the time was spent listening to the Velvet Underground, or David Bowie for hours at a time. Occasionally it was spent day dreaming about apparent ambitions and the lack of motivation I had (at the time) towards achieving these, one of which I had held (and continue to hold) dear since primary school, to write the scariest story EVER! Some of the time (very little) was spent revising or writing essays for the business studies course I was on (what a complete waste of time that actually was). A lot of time was spent sleeping - seeing very little point in doing much else! And yet I still seemed to have an excess amount of time. This was when I discovered that I was not one of them (whoever they are) but more importantly this was the time that I discovered Burroughs.
Before attending university my Dad had given me some great advise (@libbyscarlett @lucyvann) that I really took on board "...remember nothing passes the time like a good book..." The book was Naked Lunch. It was a mountain of a book which I slowly climbed over the space of a year. Climbing then falling, then higher, then tumbling, then resting, and ascending finally to the peak, before 'accidentally' slipping back to a midway point and climbing back up to the top only via a different route. I discovered that there are no set paths, that most things, that most people are actually quite abstract - only we have become accustomed to or conditioned so that we just accept it, 'it' being life I suppose. In reality there is no such thing as a right way, a wrong way, as black and white, as truth and lies, just a whole bunch of variables amongst a wide range of perspectives - all of which are fine, all of which are good and true. The beauty of Naked Lunch is the search for meaning, yes there is a narrative but it is mangled amongst a whole car crash of text; it requires a lot of imagination and absolutely no preconceptions of what it is, or for that matter isn't. No author ever finishes a piece of work, be it a book, a photograph, a piece of design. It is always the reader that finishes it. An author merely guides you, in the case of a book, helps you to paint out a world, a world that is never the same in any two minds. Probably the reason why film adaptations of books are so disappointing, "That isn't how I imagined it to be" well of course it isn't, you didn't make the film! William never finished this book, I did, and if you have read this book, you did too. We took from it all we could and made our own minds up. It was during my second year in Sheffield that my eyes began to open to this idea (this may have been encouraged by finally going to art college). It was about this time I realised it was fine to think differently and most definitely fine to express this in whatever way possible. It is also fine when others do not understand, or when I do not understand, disconnection is as valid an experience as connection. Burroughs did not hold back. He bled his junkie blood on to the page so thickly that you can feel it pulse. And most importantly I discovered that actually, to achieve that ambition of writing the scariest book EVER! I would need to look beyond the paranormal, that I would have to delve right into the human psyche and pull out the most terrifying thing of all - ourselves.