My mother: "You need to do less revision and have more fun!"
My doctor: "You need to eat for England and put on half a stone!"
I know what you're thinking: "Are you crazy? You've just been given a legitimate reason to slack off and eat like a pig!" So why can't I do it? The answer is that I can't help it. I'm a neurotic freak. I can't have fun with my friends if I think there is work I should be doing, and I have an irrational fear of putting on even a single pound. I suppose I just like to control things.
We often say that our gang at university is a bit like the cast of a sitcom, I think mainly because there have been so many love triangles and dramas amongst us. In this sitcom I would be the 'the neurotic one'. Before I go to sleep I often make a list of things I need to do the next day, to stop myself from worrying about them. These lists often start: "8am: wake up. 8:15am: eat breakfast."
Don't laugh. The great thing about starting your to-do list with "wake up" is that, unless you die in your sleep, you will always manage to complete the first thing on your list. After that you are unstoppable.
Anyway, moving on. Yesterday I was doing some revision for my Seventeenth Century exam, and I stumbled upon a passing reference to a woman in an article I was reading. Although she was only briefly mentioned, this mention leapt off the page at me. She seemed like an incredibly fascinating person, and her life story was both very cool and very, very tragic. It stuck me that she could be the main character in a really good novel. I tried to find out some more about her, but there's barely anything on her. She's an enigma. Sadly, I don't think I'll ever be brave enough to be able to write a historical novel: not only would I find it near impossible to replicate seventeenth-century dress, manners, culture, speech etc. without being laughed at by historians everywhere, I just can't get into the head of an overweight fifty-year-old widow (for that is what she was). So the novel will never be written. But I'm not going to tell you anything more about the woman, just in case I do decide to tackle her story one day. I don't want you to steal my amazing idea, you scoundrel you.
I have completely gone off the idea I had for The Novel. It had absolutely no substance. I'm thinking of sticking to what I know and writing a novel about a university student, set entirely in the university library. At night. Sounds dull, doesn't it? I was thinking of making it kind of supernatural-psychological-magic-realism...y. With lots of sarcasm and humour, since that seems to be my trademark. I don't know though. The trouble is that once you publish a certain kind of novel, you have to be consistent. That's why I couldn't write a historical novel. I might be able to get away with it once... But then I'd have to do it again, and again! I can't keep up the sham of knowing stuff about history for that long! I know jack all about history!
One last thing. In times of darkness and revision, a little comic relief is always helpful. I decided to read through some of my very first novel, which I wrote when I was about thirteen. It's your typical "adventurer gathers together party of mages, warriors and rogues and travels across generic medieval fantasy land to defeat evil overlord" story. My heroine meets a Hot Guy, finds out Hot Guy is actually the son of Evil Overlord, and then defeats them both using the powers of LOVE and FRIENDSHIP, which are harnessed by (I kid you not) holding hands with her friends Captain Planet style. I practically wet myself laughing. Here's an extract so that you can wet yourself laughing too.
The man continued. “We both have power…you and me…think what a team we would make! We could conquer – we could control everything! You and me, and our powers…think…”
I rolled my eyes. “Please, have some self-respect.”
He said nothing, only carried on staring, pleading. I pointed a finger at him, and he flinched as if I had hit him with a physical force. “Take hold of my arm,” I instructed to the girls around me, and felt four hands clamp around my outstretched arm without question. I took a deep breath and grinned as the magic exploded inside of me, and I felt this tingling energy rush from them to me through their hands, where it was building up inside of me, simmering and burning like a star, getting greater and greater, overwhelming. I began to deliver my final speech.
“You are nothing but evil, greedy and power-hungry; this house is far more than your vile family ever deserved for the things you did. Yet instead of accepting this great kindness, you continued in your evil, ungrateful, destructive ways, lying and cheating and deceiving innocent people to help you achieve your selfish goal – but of course, you will not achieve it. I suppose you thought you were very clever, preying on young girls and risking their lives so that they could do your dirty work for you, but unfortunately for you you picked entirely the wrong girl. I would never be on your side, or help you, or even spare your pathetic life; the only thing you deserve is to be destroyed. You will be missed by no one.”
From the passionate terror welling up in his eyes, I could tell that he could feel the intense force of magic building up inside of me as well. He scrambled back up the steps, keeling over his throne, clammy hands gripping onto the wood and he begged with me silently and audibly to save him.
“Please…” he began an a quivering voice, “my son is a Protector, and I am…you can’t…”
It was time. “Goodbye,” I said, and then the power erupted.
With a mighty roar like a thousand raging thunderstorms colliding in the sky the blinding light surged from every inch of every one of us and exploded from my hand, not letting a single corner of the room escape from its burning fury, hitting everything in its path with the force of a gale or a crashing tidal wave, formidable bursts of magic coming again and again, tearing through everything in the room with unbridled wrath. I heard the man’s short but agonizing wail through the ear splitting roar as the magic blew him to millions of pieces, and I felt the power slice into the ceiling of the house and tear apart the rafters with a groan, crashing through into the sky above, even penetrating the very clouds. This destructive power was flooding into me through my feet, and it was as if I was sucking it from every inch of the room and then unleashing it through my hand as a golden onslaught that was a million times more devastating. Though I could not see through the overwhelming light I knew that the house was collapsing around us, and I felt splinters rain down on my head, heard china and glass shattering, walls crumbling, wood bursting into flames – crackling and crashing and splintering and groaning and screaming filled my head, but I knew that there was nothing to be scared of as we continued to blast the evil place, purging it of everything worth destroying.
Ahaha. AHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA. Ha.
And if I am now a competent writer (I like to think I am - I hope that's not arrogant) then there's hope for anyone!