Catching the Big Fish – David Lynch and the fisherman
We walked to the beach yesterday and sat on the rocks and watched the sea. The sun tried to break through and it was warm and beautiful. And I was happy there. No cormorants just a seagull on the rock. As we left we saw a fisherman catch a fish. All the time I’ve been here, and all the fishermen I’ve seen, I don’t think I’ve ever seen anyone actually catch a fish. He saw us watching him and raised his hand, holding the fish up in delight. We waved back, celebrating his catch, and he raised both hands this time and did a little dance of triumph. Quite delightful – this communication with a stranger.
I’ve always been fascinated with the idea of fishing. It’s such a solitary and still activity. Then of course there’s always the strong image of a fish caught on a hook. I used this image of a fish and fishing in my novel Sackcloth and Ashes.
The tide was beginning to turn as Evie walked back along the beach towards Porth, the sea already high. When she reached Whipsiderry and the steps up to the cliff she sat down and waited, watched the waves moving steadily, inexorably towards her. A fisherman had set his rod up at the far end of the cove and she watched him cast his line out into the sea. Once again she felt she was spinning and turning like a fish on a hook, trapped and turning in the cold air. Her grief twisted in her mouth and drew blood. She’d dreamt of Suzy last night; they were back in the club.
‘What are you saying?’ Evie was asking. ‘I can’t hear you.’
She’d tried to move closer but Suzy kept moving further away. ‘The music’s too loud.’
Suzy was shaking her head and laughing ‘It doesn’t matter,’ she said but before Evie could say anything else she’d woken up.
In David Lynch’s book Catching the Big Fish about meditation and creativity he talks about diving deep below the surface and letting the unconscious play. It is one of my favourite books. The book is very simple yet profound. I also love listening to him read it as an audio book because of his amazing voice.
Diving below the surface is an essential part of being a writer. Being open to ideas and images. You have no idea where they come from you are just grateful for them. A friend of mine, a successful playwright, once said to me that you need a floppy brain to get inside a character’s head. And although this was a strange expression, and I struggled to grasp the idea, I completely understood what she was saying at an unconscious level. I’m now trying to do it as I write my radio play. I see it as a way of inhabiting my character’s head so that his words belong to him, rather than are imposed on him by me and appear contrived. Only time will tell if I manage it.
Sackcloth and Ashes
As evening approached she stood on the beach and watched the birds settle and roost on the pier, a complicated dance rising and falling, a kaleidoscope in the sky, a breaking up and bringing together. A fisherman stood on the rocks flicking his line out into the sea. All this belonged to the past; she couldn’t stay here.
And yet she knew the past was inevitably meshed inside her, she was hooked on it like a silver fish at the end of a line.