my last few texts have been weird
So, I dunno if you are up to date on our latest texts but I recently wrote one about Come Dine With Me and then another about the bingo. I wouldn’t usually write a debrief post like this, but after writing sincere, identifiable reviews on this website for almost 8 years, I think this new direction is worth explaining, especially because one friend started reading it and thought, wait, was Gab on come dine with me? Ha ha ha.
We took a bit of time away recently from publishing our weekly Sunday texts because we needed to get the first draft of our book done. We haven’t actually said much about that book online because our publishers want us to wait to say those things as per their own marketing timeline. The theory goes, if we say too much too soon, people will lose interest. Our niche art criticism hype cycle will happen too soon, god forbid. But what I will say is that we have written the book with a blend of criticism and fiction, and it’s been a very, very enjoyable writing process. I’ve never written fiction before. I mean, I wrote bits when I was a teenager, and then even more fragmented parts in art school (I would write loopy scripts for even loopier videos, so that sort of counts). But I never really thought of criticism and fiction as modes of writing that would ever meet in the middle. Criticism, to me, has always been about pulling my insides out, and being deathly honest about what those innards look like. I thought fiction was a thing outside of the self that you had to go on big adventures to find. Like, stories were dragons, and you had to go discover them, fell them, and then show everyone what hard work you’d done.
But then, we started writing the book and the narrator is our shared voice but it’s also someone else’s, this third person. And the things she thinks are our thoughts, but they’re not, they belong to her. And I realised that we could create a new structure in order to say the things we wanted to say; like making a bed for an idea so the idea can cosy-up and lie in it. I realise these are vague sentiments without you having read the book. But I just wanted to bridge the gap in this creative process – because fast forward to present times, and I don’t want to write a review that’s me telling you my opinion of a thing, job done. I want to tell you my opinion of a thing (pull the thing out from inside of me) but I want to tell it to you in a voice that suits what I’m trying to say (I wanna be drawing from the outside world to furnish and mood-set and stage-light the opinion). So, both the Come Dine With Me text and the bingo review are… reviews. But they are also short stories. They are both. I realise they can be both. The short story is a trojan horse for the critical opinion. They are stories attached to cultural objects and the thing is, you might not realise (or agree) that they are reviews, but I believe you’re gonna get a better sense of how I feel about the object, even more so than if I were to write about it as I usually would. Because I’ve made up a better bed for the opinion to lie in. I’ve added helpful pillows and expositional blankets. Idk. You might absolutely despise these texts and want me to go back. But I am having so much fun making them and I do not plan on stopping yet.
The fun is like – when I write a normal review, I might bulletpoint some thoughts I want to check off, and then I’ll describe the subject of the review, make my way down the list, done. But when I’ve written these two texts, I’ve simply watched an episode of come dine with me/or gone the bingo, and I’ve sat down to write without a fucking clue what’s going to happen. Both texts had a three day turnaround because of sickness/busyness, so there wasn’t time to plan or doubt or really even edit things. Just had to commit. And it was delightful to have my hands write these things for me. I felt surprised by what I was coming out with. Delighted at times. Embarrassed, neurotic. All the good qualities of a writer. Writing a normal review suddenly feels like work, whereas this feels like making art. I have really missed that feeling. And I hope it is okay to lean into it, and produce more of it, because it makes me feel like I am a student again 🙇🏻♀️ like, we even spoke about these texts in the latest TWP crit on discord. I got to tell people which bits were real. The woman in the bingo who asked if I was a scientist - real. The time I bought too much stuff in Tesco and carried it anyway - real. A lot of it is real! Sincere. Opinions sincere too. I guess I thought fiction was insincere, and my head is resetting to the truth. Feels good. Feels energising. I look forward to writing much more :)
The elvis dabber was real fyi:
no I did not win a penny