Write what you know.
It’s a piece of advice that crops up time and time again, and yet it bears repeating despite being so incredibly obvious.
Met an interesting woman behind the counter at the local chemist? Voila! You have your rambunctious Madam at Ye Olde House of Ill Repute and Clap Ointment Emporium. The spotty teenager who has the shelf-stacking job at the supermarket around the corner? He’s Patient Zero, fresh off the first commercial space flight ready to infect the Southern Hemisphere with a rather nasty epidermis-melting plague that rapidly decimates the human population. Except the Australians, obviously, cos they’re a hardy bunch.
Literally anyone can be lifted from reality, moulded by your requirements, and utilised to make you a crap load of cash. Some woman once met a hairy biker with a passion for urban horticulture down the pub, and decided a few years later to write about him in a bunch of books, and named him Hagrid. That turned out pretty well for her, so it’s good enough for me.
So the plan is:
1) Go out.
2) Meet interesting people.
3) Steal them.
4) Do a bit of writing.
5) Sit back, count money, move to tax haven.
I’m an introvert with social anxiety issues.
I kid you not.
I don’t really seem the type, do I? But like it or not, writing about what I know would end up being a 100,000 word monologue on the latest exploits going down in my fish tank.(The harlequins are a rather pleasant shade of pink, much like a freshly boiled prawn. Whenever I sit, nose pressed against the aquarium glass, I can’t help but wonder as they dart around exactly what they’d taste like dipped in cocktail sauce. In case you were wondering.)
It’s hard to write about people when you generally prefer to avoid them. I didn’t always.I dimly recall social interaction in my distant past, but what can I say? People can be bastards and I’d rather have a nice evening in with cats. And by “evening” I mean “rest of my life”.
People, to me, are like energy tampons. Some are heavy-duty and you just know from looking at them that they’re gonna suck and suck, others are moderately absorbent and you can hold out a bit longer. My Hubby, bless, is more of a pantyliner. He can be around all day and sometimes I need him, and sometimes I don’t, but he’s reliable enough to not potentially give me Toxic Shock Syndrome ( which, incidentally, comes second in the list of most embarrassing ways to die, directly after “death by much too large object being placed up your own bottom”) . He also doesn’t take it personally if I sneeze and accidentally pee on him… but I digress…
So what do you write about when you have to “write what you know”?
Day 3 : The enlightening self-help book.
Whilst I may seem to be the glowing poster girl for mental health, I am in fact just a smidgen mental. I flit playfully between “slightly eccentric” and “within spitting distance of psychotic”, but I’m largely just a big ol’ pain in my own arse, and that’s kept me out of the local nuthouse. Sadly, a lot of Borderliners can’t say the same. The stats for self harm and suicide are pretty depressing. We’re a damaged bunch and often a lot of hard work all round. I like to think I’m worth the effort, though the voice in my head says otherwise. ( The voice is me, by the way, not Jesus or Satan. I’m not *that* barking. But I do go on and on, one long derisory load of bull that makes me want to slam my head in the fridge occasionally ).
What life-changing advice could I possibly offer?
Here’s what I came up with :
1) You are not your diagnosis. All is not black or white ( though your nature may be screaming at you to see it that way ), and this is just a part of what you are. It’s no more you than that cracking pair of jugs you’ve got, or that genius IQ, or the propensity to ingrowing toenails, or that ability to roll your tongue. Those are you too, but they shouldn’t define you either. It’s not something to be ashamed of, you didn’t just wake up one morning and decide to let the cheese slide right off your cracker, it just is what it is.
2) It’s vital to have a happy place, physically and mentally, and I’d heartily recommend sensory aids. Mine are:
a) My cats. My cats are freakin’ awesome. They’re just regular cats who do regular cat stuff ( nap, leave fur everywhere, vomit under the sofa ), but who *like me best*. Being followed around the house makes me feel like some sort of cat whisperer guru. You just can’t buy that sort of self-esteem boost.
b) Ice cream. It’s a cliché , but it works. Not that cheap nasty crap though. Buy the stuff that cost 4 times the price and that you have to hide at the back of the freezer behind the frozen spinach to keep the kids from eating it. If they want some they can just bloody well go buy their own. Freeloaders.
c) My dressing gown. It’s fluffy, huge, and it loves me. When I’m at my worst I’ll even go to bed in it, like some sort of onesie security blanket. Hubby hates it and says that it occasionally smells like a dead dog, but he’s just jealous of what we have.
d) My filofax and stationery. So I like to stick pretty stickers of frogs on stuff… don’t judge me! My extensive selection of washi tape doesn’t, and neither should you.
e) The sound of rain, and sitting on the beach. It’s probably a white noise thing, but it’s soothing in a way that medication isn’t. Not that I’m anti medication. If that works for you, then by all means take those babies and do it without feeling like some sort of life failure. People in pain take painkillers, same for you. Just a different drug.
Some people include photos of their kids, I don’t. Instead I include pictures that my kids have drawn for me. The distinction is very clear. The photos are a cause of stress when I’m already pushed to the max because it tricks me into thinking that I’m letting these kids down. Pictures that they’ve made for me, however, highlight that I’m doing ok. In them everyone is always smiling and Mama is always pictured biggest with a heart for a face and lots of kisses. Apart from the one where I’m depicted as a big ball wearing a bra. Not quite sure how to take that one, but I make sure not to walk around in my underwear anymore, just in case. Which, ironically, brings me to my last point …
3) Yes, you can still be a parent. Whilst a lot of Borderliners are the product of bad parenting themselves, you can step up and procreate without fearing for the sanity of your offspring. You’ll need a supportive partner. You’ll need to take turns and sometimes you’ll have to be absent whilst you go stroke your dressing gown behind a locked bedroom door. And you will, on occasion, stumble. But guess what? “Normal” parents do that too. It’ll be fine. Have faith in yourself, it’s half the battle.
OK, so maybe just a short book then. Less time reading, more time on working on it and taking it easier on yourself. I can live with that.
Tomorrow I may take a bash at erotica. At the very least that should do my viewing stats the world of good.