Playing with Fire was a six month long project which gave me time to finish my novel, ‘Peachy’ with mentorship from Kirsty Logan. I also developed a platform for survivor writers, holding two workshops and a reading event. This is the final blog in a series of three.
It’s been a wild six months, including a period of homelessness during the pandemic. My experiences have led me to reflect more than ever on writing as an act of survival. As I lived in a series of hotel rooms, contending with the ferocious bureaucracy of my local council; I turned to writing. I had to! Writing became an act of urgent necessity. I needed the focus, the sense of being a ‘real person’ that writing brings me. A creative identity beyond my daily struggle within a system built to be obstructive and often demeaning to those in need.
On Saturday 24th April we held our Playing With Fire live reading event, hosted by Live Art Development Agency. Featuring contributions by commissioned readers Dolly Sen, Elinor Rowlands, Ayotomi IF, Andie Macario, and by four attendees of the survivor writing workshops: Emem Amana, Frankie Blomfield, Helen Bowie, Nosheen Khwaja, Bella Violet Quinn. I read the chapter ‘Beach’ from my novel.
60 people attended the event on Zoom and we have distributed over 250 zines produced ahead of the event and mailed out. Attendees told us they liked having a physical zine as it gave them something to re-read afterwards that held great memories of the event.
This event was moving and powerful, even in the midst of stressing out about presenting the event, technical details and timing, listening to the readings I laughed, felt tenderness, anger, wanted to shout in solidarity, and was lifted up by a sense of belonging. Our survivor writers were POWERFUL!!
The zine is available as a free download.
And you can listen to recordings of the readings here: https://soundcloud.com/jet-moon/sets/playing-with-fire
If you would like to order a hard copy of the zine you can do that here: https://www.thisisunbound.co.uk/products/playing-with-fire
I’ve finished my book!! Based on my own experience, the novel is a mixture of story and truth.
‘Peachy’ is a teenage girl growing up in the crime-ridden suburbs of South Auckland, New Zealand, in the late 1970s. She tells the story of murder, rape and kidnap that unfolds in her tight-knit group of friends: this violence and betrayal intensifies Peachy’s desire to escape the brutal world she lives in. As her world changes, so does Peachy: she gains self awareness, a broader understanding of society, and discovers her own queer desire.
After four years of wrestling with the manuscript, sometimes taking breaks to do other things, it feels strange to let go of my long-time companion. It has been a difficult book to write but one where all of the struggle was part of the journey and I hope has been transmuted into intensity on the page.
The last couple of weeks I’ve been writing a synopsis, which was a gruelling process. Imagine finishing a manuscript and then needing to distill meaning, sense and story, in an engaging way in under 1,000 words. A headache! The good news is I’m ready to start sending out queries to agents and publishers. Wish me luck!!
The project Playing with Fire gave me a community of writers. People I could identify with and who also gave me a sense of there being a big audience for survivor writing. I learned there are many, like me, who persist and use writing to get through the day. Who push against invisibility, to shout, chant, rhyme, thread together the lines of existence, to anchor ourselves and to reach out to others.
I have plans to continue Playing With Fire. I’m thinking about what I want and need in a community of writers, while digesting all that I’ve gained so far. A big thank you to all survivor writers who have been part of this. I feel eager to meet more of you!
About Jet Moon: From underground clubs in Berlin, to running clandestine festivals in Serbia, to moonlit forests hidden from the Belarusian secret police, Jet Moon is a multi-disciplinary artist who writes, performs and collaborates on fierce work for radical social change. Collaborating for many years with the LGBTIQ, kink, sex worker, disability and survivor communities they belong to, creating intimate spaces of sharing, visibility and resistance.
Published 15 July 2021