The publisher says ‘all you need is a hook’.
Hundreds of hungry writers scribble: ‘trauma’
⎯she doesn’t literally say trauma but it’s implied, a quiet
nod that to sell books there’s gotta be like a brilliant
pain to keep the pages turning, make it worth
a reader’s while, titillating flush.
This ticks all the boxes, it’s flush
with detail, let’s be frank sexual violence hooks
people that’s human nature, the market sets the worth.
Not saying it’s right but one person’s trauma
is a ‘Hey I need a book for the plane, brilliant
I’ve heard so much about, perfect way to fill quiet
hours’. Puritanical to say women should keep quiet
about their body life terrors, flush
feelings away, write anodyne tales. Maybe brilliance
comes at a price or maybe it’s a tired adjective hooked
on genius’ door, every person has a trauma
to tell but which ones accrue most worth.
Recall messy bedroom weekly session worth
$50 an hour, tutoring Bel in quiet
writing. Her car accident brain trauma
suspending her in teen fantasies of fame, flush
with effort to pen her story, use the hook
to write a best-selling work of brilliance.
What meaning in those afternoon sun brilliant
hours? In honesty little teaching of any worth
took place. No matter the stimulus her mind hooked
in small loop limits of logic, my fretting quiet,
was it a lie to encourage the flush
of hope: yes if she worked hard her trauma
shouldn’t stop chance of success. But trauma
of this kind isn’t brilliant.
Daily grind of a life that was flush
with youth and promise. Arrested. Worth
little to an agent publisher industry, the quiet
of ordinary tragedy no real hook.
Those hours flush with echoes of trauma
planted a hook about what we call brilliant,
the worth of diligence, pen to paper, writing quiet.
Emilie Collyer lives on Wurundjeri country, where she writes poetry, plays and prose. Her writing has appeared most recently in Rabbit, Australian Poetry Journal, Witness Performance and Cordite. Award-winning plays include Contest, Dream Home and The Good Girl. Emilie is currently undertaking a PhD in creative writing at RMIT.