A nasty pesky persistent and painful dose of shingles has kept me from writing. In “The Railway Children”, Mother states, ‘I haven’t an idea in my head for a story, so there won’t even be (iced) buns for tea for some time.” Cute! Sixpence per story and enough cash to to buy buns. The “Bring back Fiction to Women’s Magazines” Facebook page would be apoplectic at such poor rates.
I’ve got the ideas for stories but I’m unsure how to proceed with them. Moreover while there were no hot cross buns over Easter, we didn’t exactly starve as I became the Queen of Spices serving up vegetarian fare for visitors and offspring. It’s amazing how many different ways courgettes and aubergines can be presented – but this research was not exactly at the forefront of my mind, and I would kill for a juicy, charred, salty, steak right now. It’s been an adventure, this veggie thing — my personal favourite being the Thai veggie burgers masquerading as Thai fishcakes, served in pitta bread with salsa and jalapeños. Hopefully, an overdose of vitamin c and spice will kill this virus, before the extra cooking and prep kill me!
So why the writing dilemma? Part of my research about Amy involved watching documentaries about Looked After Children and care leavers. It was sobering, heart breaking,unjust, filled with profanity, despair and disillusion. It was unbelievable the obstacles they faced. Young people in care forced to move placement multiple times, and more likely to fall into prostitution and drug use. So my fictional Amy is just that: fictional, far from lifelike, and yet to depict the realities I’d have to write from places that are beyond my experiences and criminal. I don’t know whether I have the courage for that. I mean consider my opening line: “The first time I gave a **** *** for money I was twelve years old. I was ******** ** by the time I was sixteen.” It’s not biographical, not young adult, and alienating in terms of language. And yet….
The other dilemma is of course whether I have anything of value to contribute — and I am worried about this. Friends are going through crises of their own: mental health, relationships, dodgy hips, arthritic knees, ageing, renal failure, dementia, God, Church, family and marriage. Where they write about these , they do so movingly, from a vulnerable place. Where they speak of them they do so in various ways guaranteed to elicit my sympathy, humour,exasperation and impatience. Where they talk continuously, repetitively and endlessly ruminating, I mutter, murmur and shrug. If they Facebook them, I scroll past. But in these contexts my Amy preoccupation and worry about the writing of her are inconsequential.
Perhaps I should just get on with writing her but I am worried that in pursuit of reality I will offend and alienate. In the meantime I have more aubergines and courgettes to prep.
Thai spices? Check.
Moroccan Spices? Check.
Italian Spices? Check!
OK Greek spices tomorrow and maybe Amy will pick up a stir fry from the Chinese where she is sleeping rough.