Thursday, 16 January 2014

Who do you think you are?



     And then the fun began is messing with my head. I’m still thinking about her label blogpost. Read it. It’s good. But it’s provoked something of an existential crisis. Just who the buggering hell do I think I am?
I am an unemployed stay at home mum whose children are both at school. But I’m not a housewife (as anyone who read any of My Increasingly Frantic And Angry Cleaning Tweets earlier this week will already be aware). And I don’t ever introduce myself as ‘Just a mum’. Fuck, no. Firstly, no one is ‘just a mum’. And there is no way in which anyone with children should allow themselves to be defined by  what got created by bumping uglies with someone else. I get magnificently fierce if anyone other than The Blondies calls me ‘Mummy’. Really quite scary. My brother-out-law asked me, in front of The Blondies if I was ‘going out for a cigarette, Mummy?’ My response was to say to him that if you’re someone I haven’t squeezed out of my fanjo, then don’t ever call me Mummy. Then I let go of his collar and put the knife away.

     So I’m more than just a mum.

     I’m unemployed. I have been for a long time. Nearly four years, in fact (almost certainly will be writing a terrible, pretentious wanky blog about that in a few weeks, You Have Been Warned). But I'm not looking for work. Far too risky, when you've cocked your life up as spectacularly as I have.

     I write, but I am not a writer. To me, a writer I someone who actually has demand for their work, has dedicated readers who actively want to read more of their creative output. Writers get their work published, whether it’s books, magazines, online, wherever. Someone with a blog on blogger is not a writer. They’re just someone who happens to be a little bit selfindulgent. And maybe, like me, they find that writing things helps.
HANDS, do what you’re bid;

Bring the balloon of the mind

That bellies and drags in the wind

Into its narrow shed.

     It does help, a lot. Firstly, the act of trying to articulate your thoughts on something is never anything other than useful. How on earth do I know how I really feel about something, until I’ve thought about it for an obsessively drawn out length of time? Until I’ve walked around it, taken a few steps back, peered at certain parts, examined every aspect, walked away for a moment, only to pelt back and look at it some more? Until I’ve countered every argument against what I think and feel?

     Then the hammering. Fingers flying over the keyboard, stabbing away at the letters, feeling a bit like Jessica Fletcher in the opening titles of ‘Murder She Wrote’. That’s good too, because if I care about something enough to blog about it, then bashing the keyboard for an hour or so gets rid of a lot of pent up emotion. I never really thought about that aspect of it much until recently, but there we go. It’s surprising how much stress can fly out of one’s fingers.

     Then, the slow, irritating (and frequently utterly pointless) attempt at checking what I’ve written. Does that work? Is that sentence clear? Is that a typo? I’ve missed out a word… It’s fairly pointless, because I know what I want to say so well, that I am blind to mistakes, so I read what I expect to be there, not what actually is there. So when you see a mistake, that’s why.

     And then I click ‘publish’, sing ‘And be damned!’ in the voice of Hugh Laurie impersonating an upper class elderly female, and that’s it. Over and done.

     (And I write fiction as well, by hand, in notebooks, with a fountain pen. But no one’s ever seeing that, so don’t ask. Trust me, I’m doing you a favour).

     So that’s what I do. But I’m not a writer.

     Writers write. I know, because I follow a fair few of them on twitter. And for the most part, they use twitter like quite a lot of us do. To share pictures of cats, have a moan, celebrate that it’s wine o’clock, querulously  ask where the gin is. Now and again, they’ll mention they’re off to see their agent, or that their new book is out – just like everyone else does, when they want to promote something that they’re involved in. Just like I do when I’ve blogged, and want people to read it.

     But, and I’ll let you into a secret here, these writers, these Real, Proper Writers, don’t fucking bang on about it. They don’t go on and on about a major plot twist. They don’t say ‘ooh! A day of writing awaits!’ They don’t fucking go on about word count, and, veering off course here, can I just say that every time an aspiring writer tweets ‘Hmm, only 632 words today… SadFace’ I want to tweet them a link to this



     And say ‘No one cares. Seriously, no one on here fucking cares about your word count. Were they good words? Funny words? Thought-provoking words? It’s not about the number of words you write, it’s the quality of them. Are they words I want to read? Based on the vapid and self obsessed nature of your words on here, probably not. If you really want to be a writer, then engage with the world. Because right now, you’re waiting for the world to come to you, and you are missing out on the most wonderful and useful source of inspiration you will ever have access to – people. Don’t assume that just because you’ve written words, everyone wants to read them. One of the funniest writers on twitter is the fucktastically sweary Scarlett Parrish. And she doesn’t ever go on about Writer’s Block, or ‘Ooh! New chapter alert!’. Reading tweets about #amwriting which tell me nothing about the character of the writer is guaranteed to make me never want to read another word of theirs. JUST FUCKING WRITE IN PRIVATE AND BE YOURSELF ON TWITTER.’

     Sorry, that rant’s been coming for a while. Anyway, cough, shuffles foot…

     So what am I, really? I’m a mum who blogs, but I’m not a Mummy Blogger. I’m unemployed, but I’m not a jobseeker.  I write stuff, but I’m not a writer. I’m a compulsive hair twiddler, but never wear my hair down. I am a singer, but I can’t hold a note. I am a cricket fan, but have never learnt the rules. I am a dancer, but I am a stranger to rhythm.


     I am a heaving mass of contradictions, wrapped around a thousand insecurities. And if someone would like to tell me just who the mascara arse I am, that's be a great help. Thanks.

7 comments:

Sam said...

You're a philosopher, my love - but don't let me label you for god's sake!!! ;)

Lucy Benedict said...

You're bloody marvellous, you are, Sam! I can certainly fulfil a lot of criteria of the Monty Python Philosopher's Song...

Marina Sofia said...

You are a rebel... among other things. Sometimes it's not easy not having a convenient label to hang onto one's self, but it is probably all for the best.

Meeshie said...

eh.. you're human. We're all in a constant state of defining ourselves. That's life. Labels are what *others* use to define us.

Lucy Benedict said...

A rebel without a cause, Marina. And yes, Meeshie, I think I'm just *me*. From now on, I shall pay as much attention to my personality labels as I do to clothes washing ones.

Which is to say, slightly less than bugger all.

Kate/WitWitWoo said...

Pretentious wanky blog posts are the best. Fact.

Lucy Benedict said...

Kate, you are only encouraging me. The others won't thank you for it.