On my list of worries there sits:
1. Getting older
2. Getting wider (from the typo ‘wiser’)
3. Getting Alzheimers
4. Getting up. As in Not Liking It Very Much.
I don’t like to set goals because when I don’t achieve them I never heal from the bruises I get after beating myself up about it. And the bruises never make way for thicker skin. They just make me feel madder – with myself. Hence the absence of New Years Resolutions - never make them, never break them.
And although I like to blame my parents for most of my shortcomings (which makes it doubly easier when they’re somewhere they can’t take issue – hint: rhymes with Devon, letters – 7) I’m not sure how much longer I can realistically expect them to shoulder the burden of my lack of self-assurance.
I mean, surely BY NOW I should have grown up, moved on, accepted things and dealt with these issues of self-confidence?
I became an adult – meaning I got through adolescence which is a battlefield in itself, right - all those wrong turns, all those difficult choices? I have married - twice but who’s counting? I have given birth - once and that was quite enough thank you - I'm not good with pain. I have been bereaved so many times it’s going to take me a l-o-n-g time to get through the welcome committee at the end of my own particular tunnel of light come My Time....
And I have made decisions in my life.
Not all of which turned out… well, brilliantly (see puberty back there). But who knows? Maybe bad decisions are rubbish for a reason – for a higher purpose than we can ever know in this world?
And one of my decisions was to write a book. Something that I know without even having to consider it for a millisecond, my parents would BOTH not believe me capable of achieving. Much less add another 5 to the list.
I still remember the euphoria of typing ‘The End’ at the *ahem* end of my first attempt (see, even now I doubt calling it a real ‘book’ because it didn’t make the Grade and get published – but does that make it any less a proper ‘book’? I don’t know). (Is this like the tree falling in a forest and nobody there to hear it or am I mixing my metaphors again?). Anyway…
Was short-lived it has to be said. I’d love to say I remember tearing the page out of the typewriter with feverish hands and leaping half-naked around my garret making squeaking noises that would shame the squeakiest of creatures (I’m so good with these analogies - I’m SUCH a natural, right?).
But not really. I simply watched the cursor cagily spit out out the letters ‘t’ ‘h’ ‘e’ ‘e’ ‘n’ ‘d’ and half a beat later, deleted them.
I sat back, thoroughly puzzled with what I thought I’d done.
I must be mistaken. There’s NO WAY I could’ve written a book.
Word count beamed at me from a bar and announced I had written in excess of 120,000 words so I must have.
Well, hadn’t I?
I tried typing ‘the end’ in a different font then deleted it.
I capitalised the first letters and deleted it again.
It was too easy to type ‘The End’. Surely if it was this simple, then everybody would be doing it?
And no Tippex was harmed during this particular execution, therefore doubly doubtful.
And there was nobody around to confirm or dispute the fact that I was ALLOWED to write ‘the end’, much less decide that this. Was. It. The End.
Maybe I’d got confused and had just written a really long shopping list without noticing the absence of bread and eggs.
Perhaps I’d just had one v-e-r-y l-o-n-g moan about how sh*t my life had been; aren’t most first attempts/books meant to be more memoir-y than subsequent? I couldn’t very well produce that as a bonafide Book, surely?
Briefly I allowed myself to imagine it already published in it’s shiny mauve cover with a rat wearing a wedding dress peering dolefully through it’s Perspex cage on the front – oh, it was called “Labrats” in case you’re thinking my imagination has gone way past the over-active stage and into the realms of proper Psychosis. And I also allowed myself a little shiver of anticipation at the thought.
I already had a desk in the corner of Watertsones – WHSmith at a push – and I was gaily scribbling my signature on the first page for my expectant readers. My Readers. My God! And I was in the local papers. Not front page you understand, but three or four perhaps. With the heading of ‘Local author signs books for local people in her local bookshop’ or something like that. I’m not good with headlines.
I wanted, no, needed to tell somebody. Of course the first to come to mind was my mum and dad. But even if I’d had a decent connection, I swear the conversation would still have gone something like:
“I’ve just finished writing a book…. (reply) you know, the book I said I was writing? (reply) well, I've been writing a book (reply) um...three years actually but…. (reply) no, no, it’s probably not a real book…(reply) yes …(reply)… no (reply) no… (reply) okay I can hear the adverts are finishing now, sorry … no, you don’t have to call back later, it’s fine."
So this happened anyway – but in my head.
Because I’m not good with the self-confidence thing. And I know precisely why but for the life of me I still don’t know how to grab it by the scruff and shake it up until it becomes my best friend. Or at least doesn't cross to the other side of the road when it sees me waiting.
How do you find it?
How do you get it and how do you keep it?
And is it fully self-supporting or does it require external validation?