Green Eyed Monsters - 02 December 2011
I have just heard today that a former student of mine is about to have her first novel published. I am very pleased for her, of course – the first time I read her work I knew that she had something special (I also thought that there wasn’t very much I could teach her). I remember telling husband Husband that I had a new student and she was a better writer than me (pull a sad, defeated face here.) Having students that are more talented than me is quite disconcerting and makes me wonder what I am doing with my life: I should have stayed in the bank – became the very best bank clerk I could have been – had a proper, earning-some-decent-money career. But here I am, messing about with the slight talent I have. I am happy for my former student, I truly am – there is room in the published world for all of us, after all. I have no idea why I feel jealous – I too am a published novelist, after all. But I do feel jealous – isn’t that strange and unnecessary and horrible? What’s it all about?
I do know of course – it’s about feeling I have to be the best writer in the world and no one should come near me for sheer brilliance, and if they do, well, I might as well give up. Also I suspect that my ex student must have been luckier than me because more talented, got a better deal, better in every way so that she will go further and further and I will stay back. There: as I said: horrible. It’s the same feeling I get when I read published writers I admire. It’s also about, I think, spending too much time alone in my study making up stories. I really should get out more, get some perspective. Except I was never very good at getting out – I truly was a very poor bank clerk; I have never enjoyed working with other people and I hated school because of the other kids – being wary of them, on the whole, if not down right scared. If school had just been me and the teachers I would have loved it.
Oh well. Least said, soonest mended: say nowt’s a canny chap, as my granddad used to say. I am aware of saying too much in these blogs; laying it all on the line in a very unedifying way. So why I am doing it then – who knows…It’s a kind of untangling, I think, getting things straight in my head, and I have a firm belief that no one reads this anyway (there are layers of disingenuousness here, I know.) The reason I have never kept a diary in the past is because I’ve always thought my diary voice comes across a bit whinny, whereas when I am writing proper I have a much cooler voice, drier, I think, because I am not being me: I am being someone who isn’t guyed down by me. I wonder if that makes sense.
So in an effort not to whine – reasons to be cheerful: the first 5 chapters of All the Beauty of the Sun came back from my editor with some very nice comments and not as many punctuation/grammar mistakes as I expected. Also, she saw the same flaws in it I had worried about and should have rectified sooner but wanted to find out first if they really were flaws. So, flaws they are, of course, and I have put them right – or I think I have. I shall have to wait until I hear from her again. Also had a very nice email from a reader who read The Good Father and went right out and bought all my other novels as well as Six Little Deaths for her kindle. Hooray. What else? Have been writing and have fallen in love with a new set of characters, which is always a very good sign that I will finish their story so am tentatively hopeful. It will soon be Christmas and I like Christmas, on the whole. Count your blessings, name them one by one.
And here’s a great, up beat song. Those policemen - don't they look young!