Last night Cameron Raynes spoke to an intimate audience at Mundaring Library about his novel, First Person Shooter and his life as a writer and stutterer.
The main character of his novel, Jayden, was originally a minor character in a film script, who stutters. Cameron said that the decision to make Jayden the main character opened the heart of the writing for him and the manuscript was transformed.
He said he’s shared much of his own experience with Jayden. Jayden’s voice is intensely self-aware, hyper alert and fraught. His days are defined by frustrating and devastating experiences of attempted verbal expression and the debilitating alternative of choosing not to communicate, express or participate.
The latter experience is more dominant for Jayden because it is the safer of the two. He learns to manipulate it, combine it with minimal verbal effort and layers of behaviour that appear casual on the surface but are very consciously prepared and practised.
The beauty of the work connects with one of the deepest forces operative in literature. We can witness Jayden’s interior experience, be there with him as he stands up in class to read a poem aloud, begin the struggle he knows so well and finds himself carried by the poem’s imagery into somehow reading powerfully, smoothly. Fifteen year old Jayden will never forget those few minutes, and neither will we.
Cameron Raynes told the audience the story of the moment when, as a middle-aged man and father, he accepted he would stutter each and every day. Along with that he decided he would talk to a new person, a stranger, every day. This is the practice he credits with resolving his condition. He said, ‘If you believe there is something ugly about you and you don’t own it, it will own you.’
Cameron’s sharing about himself and his work was a moving experience which the audience responded to with interest and gratitude. We invited Cameron back, sometime in the future when he visits his native Perth again. Please look out for the opportunity to hear this extraordinary writer and speaker.