I’m quite curious about all the stories I haven’t written/started/finished. Some of them sound like they might be quite good.
There’s the one about the hot air balloon (there’s a sad story about that, which, if you’re curious, you can read here). There’s one about a man who couldn’t swim, but wrote books about deep-sea fish and another about a woman whose boyfriend used to steal colours for her, and then did something worse, something that was so bad she couldn’t stand to look at colours any more and had to stay in her house in the dark. There’s one about a woman having an affair, a trainspotter who thinks about Anna Karenina too much. One about mormons, and another about a girl writing paper-aeroplane letters to her dead boyfriend. One about a man who is driven mad by his recycling bins. One about a girl who wants a camera but her dad won’t buy one for her.
Some people advise that writers should have interesting and varied lives in order to provide fodder for their seething imaginations. They should (in between bouts of solitude, that is) be gregarious red-wine drinkers, smokers, revellers, travellers and lovers. They should work picking grapes, selling theatre tickets, making coffee, shearing pigs, painting caravans, pulling pints, selling drugs, robbing banks, playing football or winning big brother. These will make them have lots of stories to tell.
I can’t stand being bored, but I am too lazy to do any of these things either.
I am not a proper writer. If I ever became one and had to do a bit of writing about myself for an inside flap, it would not say any of these interesting things. I get up every day and have my breakfast, then I drive to work and talk to people about books, then I drive home and have my tea. Then I pretend to be a supermarket check-out lady or a doctor or I roll balls along the carpet or do jigsaws with very big pieces. Then I warm milk and brush teeth and sing You Are My Sunshine and Tortoise Plays on The Swing and Ally Bally Ally Bally Bea.
Then I sit in my bedroom with the light out and write about lots of things I would quite like to do if I wasn’t doing any of those things during the day. My characters are my deputies, doing all the things I don’t have the time, money or courage for. Hot air balloons, mucky affairs, stealing clothes from washing lines, stalking the neighbours, hanging about in train stations, swimming at the bottom of the sea, living in the dark, crashing a car, exploiting a staff-discount.
If I ever have to write something for an inside flap I will have to make it up.