So I’ve been very quiet lately. Where are we at?
I’m epically behind, but I’ll have 3 weeks to myself over Christmas that I was planning to use as ‘getting ahead’ time. So now it can be ‘catching up’ time.
I finally got my depressed arse to ONE job interview, and it turned out to be at an online bookshop. I got the job! Been there 3 days and my boss is very pleased with me so far.
I mentioned to my local library ages ago that I was interested in volunteering. They got in touch yesterday and I’m going to start helping out with children’s storytime after Christmas. This will be my first storytelling practice.
One of my friends said, ‘Your wish birds are working already!’
My mental health is still a bit rocky, but having work is helping, and I think I’m ready to start writing again. Meanwhile, I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about what needs to change here.
Mostly, there needs to be more fun. A lot more fun. I need to get through my head the maxim of P. L. Travers, ‘Write to please yourself.’
I’m terrified of change, but lately my prayer has been ‘Please change me.’ It’s earwormed me so much that I keep praying it over and over without meaning to. And it would appear to be starting to work.
I was obsessing over Luke Skywalker and something shifted. I lost interest in the character and started finding out everything I could about the actor, Mark Hamill.
Now, I know my brain. My preoccupations reflect the qualities I want to have. I’ve longed for years to be an utterly pure, intense, driven and grimly determined hero with ice-blue fire in my eyes. In actual fact, I’m nothing like that, and just possibly this is not because I suck but because I’m not meant to be like that.
Watching the now 60-year-old Mark Hamill in interviews, talking nineteen to the dozen about whatever project he’s doing at the minute, doing funny voices and knocking the microphone around with his excited gestures, I thought: oh, wait. This is what I want to be like. Funny, playful, wildly enthusiastic, shamelessly dorky, and doing what I love for the love of it, to please myself.
In the wake of this realisation, I tweeted him: ‘Just realised you’re a better role model for me than Luke because you’re more fun.’
Ugh, it’s so hard to sum up how much he inspires me, and I’m supposed to be a writer. He is so strong, he’s bounced back from things that would have crushed most people, and as far as I can tell he’s entirely powered by squee. He just loves what he does THAT much. He’s determined all right, but it’s the opposite of grim. It’s a joyful and infectious thing and I want some of that.
And it’s struck me that if I want some of that, I need to let go of my wish to be a hero. Or at least drastically change it, because in its current form it’s incompatible with fun, it’s incompatible with who I really am, and it’s not producing any heroism whatever.
Letting go of such a powerful longing isn’t quick or easy, but I’ve started. I had a free coaching session with the excellent Leela Sinha, thanks to which I decided to experiment with spending an hour a day intentionally doing what I wanted. Just pure pleasure for its own sake. For the first few days I was like, ‘If I spend so much time doing what I want, when will I have time to write?’
Then the obvious hit me: I want to write. No, REALLY. For PLEASURE. Apparently, I already do have some of the enthusiasm I want, it’s just been buried because my ‘heroic’ attempts to turn myself into a willpower machine have left me completely out of touch with my own desires. I shall be spending the next while digging it out.
PS. No, I’m not going to address the question of why my role models always seem to be guys. I do have female role models as well, honestly!