Monday, 20 June 2011

Website and real life

I made a website.

It was surprisingly easy to do. I've put off linking to it because I've been fiddling with the words - I am an endless editor. I can't look at stories once they've been published without feeling the urge to hit the delete key and find a better way to say what I was trying to say.

In recent months I haven't blogged about anything to do with my real life unless it relates to writing in some way. I've been thinking about the way in which fiction often germinates out of real life experience. I've been trying to finish a story called, 'Love: Terms and Conditions' which has left me pondering over the different ways in which parents love their children. I've got four children. I could say that I love them all exactly the same, but it wouldn't be true, and yet I can't quantify the differences: it's not a matter of more or less, it's something else entirely.

As I type this, I'm sitting on a bench in my garden. It's warm and breezy. Cherries and pears are ripening behind me, I can hear baby birds that are nesting somewhere in the roof of my house and in a minute I'm going to get off the bench and help myself to a fist-full of raspberries. What I'm also doing out here in the garden is worrying about son number 3, the brashest, yet most easily bruised of my children.

A True Story about Son Number 3:

Son number 3 didn't say thank you to me in a private interaction at his classroom door last week and was consequently shouted at by his teacher and told to follow me as I left the school premises and apologise. When he caught up with me, his face was stiff with embarrassment and he could hardly open his mouth to get the apology out: I didn't want his apology; I would never buy a thank you with humiliation. This morning, on the way into school, he stopped in his tracks and his face hardened into the same mortified mask: he had forgotten his materials to build an alien. I told him I would go home and get them; and I told his teacher I would go home and get them. But I was forbade from doing it because, 'he must learn his lesson and miss out while everyone else makes theirs and incidentally, wasn't he rude last week when he didn't say thank you?'

I left a deflated and ashamed little boy at school this morning. But never mind, I thought. When he gets home I'll have a break from writing and play football with him in the garden. He adores football and, much to his delight, he has been having a trial at a premiership team's academy. It's not been a  picnic. He has come out of the changing room covered in Lucozade, he has hidden from bigger boys in the toilets and learned that he doesn't have the 'right' boots (horrors), but on the whole, he has loved it. Which is why we bought him a new kit and the 'right' boots on Saturday. And that made the phone call I had this morning to say that he's not quite good enough to continue at the club a little worse.

So here I am, sitting in the garden, trying to think of ways to unbruise son number 3, wondering what to say to him when he gets home from school without either a cereal box alien or an academy place. I know that neither thing really matters, I could give myself a good lecture about perspective and remind myself what's really important. But... it's the small hurts that sting: hurts like Miss Brill's. And it's small hurts that make good stories.

As to this story, here's how it's going to end: the love I feel for son number 3 is an alleviating, witch hazel sort of love. When I pick him up from school, I'll try to pour it on his bruises, if he'll let me. I'll play a bit of football with him, make him something he really likes for tea, and then later, after he's gone to bed, I'll think about the way that fiction often germinates out of real life experience and get typing.


  1. I really enjoyed reading through your blog and website, seeing your creative power at work. I particularly like this post on how real life is an impetus for your writing. Keep it up!

  2. Thanks Pam.
    Sometimes I use real life as a starting point and sometimes I make it all up - hopefully no-one can tell whether the starting point has been real or imaginary *crosses fingers*. :)