So, I’m writing a book
I skipped my Morning Coffee post last week (although not my ACTUAL coffee, obviously, because that’s just crazytalk…), and I can’t promise I won’t skip a few more over the next few weeks: now that the Christmas season is officially underway, I’ve entered into one of those phases where there are lots of things happening that I could blog about… but not enough time to actually blog about them. Don’t you just hate that?
Actually, most of this week has been spent frantically trying to write up and schedule posts for ShoeperWoman,so that I can take some time off over the holidays. My ‘blog tips’ post tomorrow is on this very subject, so I won’t say much more about it, other than that nothing makes you appreciate a break quite like the process of preparing to take a break, does it? Because of the whole “all blog/no play” situation, there’s not been a whole lot else happening. That’ll all change this weekend, mind you – we have a party to go tonight, and then we’re hosting a get-together for a few friends on Sunday – but there were a couple of things of note this week, too, the most important one being Terry’s transplant check-up on Tuesday.
Terry has these check-ups every few months, and they’re totally routine – they do some bloodwork, give him a quick check-up, ask how he’s been doing, etc – but I don’t think you ever really get used to them, or stop worrying about them just a little bit. Well, I don’t, anyway: it’s strange, because the vast majority of the time, I don’t think about Terry’s transplant at all (I actually feel quite guilty about this: I promised myself at the time that if it all went well, I’d spend every second of every day being grateful, and yet here I am, complaining about having to write blog posts: boo hoo!), but when these check-ups roll around, it all comes flooding back.
Thankfully, the results were good, so I was able to dial down The Fear again – for now, at least – but I guess it doesn’t hurt to be reminded not to take things for granted every so often, does it?
Also this week, I decided to start writing a book. Yes, again.
If you’ve been reading this blog for many, many years, you may recall that I’ve been failing to write books since the age of 11. Actually, that’s not quite fair: I DID finish one when I was 11 (‘Ponies Galore’, for the benefit of those of you who couldn’t be bothered clicking that link…), but I haven’t finished one since then, and, to be completely honest, I suspect that what my 11-year-old self considered to be a “novel length” piece of writing was probably what my current self would consider to be a reasonably short blog post.
A while back, however, it occurred to me that the reason I never manage to finish any of these novels of mine is because I’m just not good at writing fiction . For some reason, people always want to argue with me when I say this, and to tell me that why, OF COURSE I could write fiction. While I appreciate their confidence in me, though, I also know that if any of them had ever actually read one of my many attempts at fiction, they’d quickly realise that every single story I’ve ever attempted involves the adventures (and I use that word in its loosest possible sense) of a redheaded Scottish girl, who grows up in a small town, starts a blog, and then nothing much really happens to her, except sometimes there are socks in the toilet, and how did that happen, huh?
They’re all about me, in other words. And I can write about ME, no problem. Sometimes I can knock out 10,000 words, all about my very own self, in a single sitting. If I try to write about people who are Not Me, however, or situations that have Not Actually Happened… that’s where I run into difficulties. I know: you’d think my vast experience with all those imaginary horses would have prepared me for this, and that creating imaginary worlds would be second-nature to me, but you’d be wrong.
Actually, any time I try to write fiction, I feel really awkward about it: like, I’ll even be sitting there TYPING in an awkward way, kind of glancing over my shoulder every few seconds, and laughing uncomfortably, as if to say, “God, I’m just totally MAKING THIS UP! Esmeralda Von Huntington-Smythe isn’t even a real person! And how would the Earl have bumped into her in the small Scottish village, anyway?”
I don’t really do “characters”, is what I’m saying. I’m also not too hot with the whole “plot” thing, because I’m basically limited to plots which involve people sitting at their computers every day, and occasionally committing random acts of stupidity. For years now, I’ve lived with the hope that something interesting would happen to me (Not TOO interesting, though: I like a lot of downtime, remember? I can’t be haring around the country, single-handedly solving centuries-old mysteries, or taking part in “fight to the death” reality TV shows, now, can I?), so I could finally write a thinly-veiled autobiography, and call it “fiction”, but left to my own devices, what’s my poor red-headed heroine to do?
It’s not like she’s going to one day get a letter informing her she’s been accepted at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, or, against the backdrop of the civil war, learn the important lesson that tomorrow is another day, is she? So I normally get a few chapters of what I call “backstory”, and what you may recognise as “Amber talking about herself again”, and then I simply toss my fiery red hair and say, “Fiddle-dee-dee: I’ll just be a blogger!” (Sorry, I sometimes get myself and Esmeralda Von Huntington-Smythe mixed up…)
(I have never written about a character called Esmeralda Von Huntington-Smythe, by the way.)
(I HAVE, however, spent many a happy, but totally unproductive, hour wondering what to call my main character. Top tip: if you actually want to WRITE a book, try not to get lost down the rabbithole of “If I could choose my own name, what would that name be?” Trust me on this.)
Having accepted that I’m probably never going to write an ACTUAL novel, then, I was having a browse round Amazon’s ‘memoir’ section a few days ago, when I came across a few books which made me think. Not because I read them and they made me think, you understand: no, purely because they were memoirs written by non-famous people, who had simply written about their own lives – a bit like I like to do, actually. And, OK, most of those people had actually experienced something vaguely out-of-the-ordinary, which is WHY their memoirs were worth writing, but it still helped me realise that there’s really nothing stopping me writing about whatever I want. There’s no rule that states I HAVE to write fiction, after all, and if what I want to write is basically a memoir (albeit one in which nothing actually happens…), then why on earth not?
Of course, I’m under absolutely no illusions that anyone will actually want to publish this book (or read it, even…), but I guess I could always self-publish if I really wanted to, and, if nothing else, at least I’d be able to say I’d fulfilled my life’s ambition, by writing a book. (I’m not counting Ponies Galore, here…) It would make me a more interesting party guest, for one thing: well, anything has to be better than the conversation-stopping, “Me? Oh, I’m a blogger. And what do you do?”
So I am writing a book. I’ve written 425 words so far. I mean, this blog post is longer. I’m trying not to think about the fact that I’ve already written more words about my plans to write a book, than I’ve written for the actual book. I’m also not really expecting to write a whole lot more of it this month, because I WOULD decide to start writing a book right at a time when I have wall-to-wall social engagements, and every spare second NOT spent socialising is having to be spent writing blog posts so I can socialise some more, wouldn’t I? I will do my best, though, (“My best” probably being “nothing” in this case…) and hopefully once the busy season is over, I’ll still actually want to do it. Fingers crossed, anyway.
(This is another reason I’ve never finished a book, actually: I’m always reading about writers who work five jobs, and get up in the middle of the night to tap out a few extra chapters, but I just can’t do it. I’m guessing I must not care about it enough, because when I’ve spent the whole day at the computer, writing blog posts, the absolute LAST thing I want to do is spend even MORE time at the computer, writing books. I know that if I was a REAL writer, I would do it anyway, because I would be so driven to get that story down on paper that nothing would stop me, but… there’s a reason I’m a blogger, is all I’m saying.)
Aaaand that’s all the news from this week! Oh, and also the kitchen is finally finished. Now all I have to do is deep-clean the entire house a few dozen times (ideally before tomorrow), and we can declare this Christmas season open for business…
How was your week?