'It's beyond my control', is one of my all time favourite movie lines (Dangerous Liasons), those four little words can be used to excuse pretty much anything, from promiscuity and hedonism to serial killing. But they are of course, especially useful to anyone suffering from any form of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD). Why am I hoovering for the 3rd time today? It's beyond my control.
I use those words to explain why I write all the time, its an addiction or compulsion more powerful than any drug or alcohol and one that I am unashamedly pushing onto others. Why? Because it is a hobby that can give you solace in the wee small hours when your troubled mind engulfs you and for some folks, that's a life saver. Frustrated writers always have troubled minds.
I urge everyone (especially the troubled) to put pen to paper, its the best form antidepressant or therapy out there. But, being troubled isn't an essential requirement, anymore than it would be for painting or flower arranging, it just requires venturing further into the dark (or light) recesses of your inner mind. Lots of navel gazing is a given, but the journey can take you anywhere you want.
Even if it is only a journal for yourself and your heirs, or just for your eyes only. Imagine you are writing a letter to your distant grandchild in a Star Trek world telling them all about your life, what your hopes and dreams were, what you have achieved, and what you are not so proud of lol. Though your descendants will go straight to the juicy bits it must be said! And don't you want them to hear it from your side?
Everyone they say, has a book in them, but far too many are put off because:
1. They are worried about what others will think
2. They are not worthy
3. They are not good enough
4. They have nothing interesting to say
5. The Spelling/Grammar/Thought Police will be out to get them
6. Their thoughts will get them sectioned/arrested.
In response to those points:
1. Who cares? You only get one shot at this life, make it memorable.
2. Says who? Only your only mind can tell you that, we are ALL worthy
3. Again, only your own mind can tell you that. You can be as good as want to be.
4. Everyone does.
5. Piffle. Language is constantly evolving, if it weren't, our words would be written in the language of Chaucer and Shakespeare.
6. Hmm, interesting one.
6. (continued) Contrary to popular belief, the majority of us couldn't care less what other people are thinking or writing about in the privacy of their own home - try selling a book of your inner thoughts (even the demonic ones) to a publisher and see where that gets you. Actually strike that, the demonic, psycho ones are usually the best sellers. See Friday 13th Parts 1 to 20.
The internet is incredible and I thank whatever Gods there may be who brought it to us. I applaud the freedom it gives so many to take their creativity to any new heights they want to. We have to push and break barriers or we will become stuck in a time warp created by our ancestors. If I were young, horny and technically minded, I would almost certainly have created an (outrageous) fictional character to paso doble around the social networks. What I would NOT have done is disguised myself as a middle aged moaning minny, or whining windbag. Where is the fun it that?
My greatest fear is that this fantastic freedom of speech and information that we now have will be short lived. That is, there will always be those who will fight to limit the amount of information available to the general public. They are using the same arguments their predecessors used against education. Its dangerous (for them) and they only want to control and limit it for our own good. They are doing it to be kind/philanthropic and anyone who thinks differently is a conspirator and a loon. Naturally, they are urged on by 'if only' people, who believe those higher up the food chain somehow have the power to make their lives perfect by introducing more laws and bans for the entire population.
Society has always been engineered to keep the cogs of the wheels spinning, some would argue it is a necessity, without it there would be chaos. There has to be a hierarchy. In modern civilisation, huge numbers of people (units) were needed to physically construct pretty much everything we have today that has been manmade. The system worked because it gave employment to the masses, and wages with which to purchase more manmade items. The circle of economics really is that simple.
However due to the advancements in technology, traditional working class jobs have been cut to the bone. Many no longer exist. Man has been replaced by machine and now has a lot of free time on his hands. The problem is, our morals and values have not kept up. We are still governed by the antiquated Methodist work ethic, that demands we scrub our doorsteps before dawn and get a casserole in the slow cooker before we turn in. Unless we have worked ourselves to the point of exhaustion, we do not believe we deserve any leisure time. Leisure time is quite strictly the preserve of the super rich and the bone idle 'its not for the likes of us'. Finding ways in which to use all this leisure time has never, as far as I am aware, been brought to a Cabinet table. It's not a necessity ergo it is kicked under the carpet. Even when it becomes a necessity (2011 riots), they turn the hose on the rebels and throw as many of them as they can into prison to cries from the public to bring back the lash.
Instead of finding ways in which to use all this free time for the greater good, science, exploration, education, health and taking care of the vulnerable, our rulers are constantly finding ways and means to apply the brakes, and in the case of the tories, put society back into reverse. They don't want to educate the masses, so much as they want to imprison them.
At some point a government is going to have to rethink their entire attitude towards the way in which society is run. The old biblical values no longer apply. We all have lots of free time and our surplus energy is no longer being spent on hard manual graft or war. Happily for the government, today's under classes have little, if any surplus energy, due a diet of MSG loaded food and addictive, dumbed down entertainment. That's one way to prevent a revolution I suppose.
The pen is mightier than the sword. And in almost every instance, it is the only weapon we have. So many people are angry and bitter because they have no way in which to express their frustration - I luv Mr/Mrs Angry letters by the way, I inevitably find myself saying 'Go You' even if they are completely bonkers. Governments and Authorities work on the assumption that no-one, other than the usual suspects and eccentrics will protest at any new law/legislation that they introduce. The word protester is usually accompanied by a spit and a rolling of the eyes. Protesting isn't cool, it means you are barmy.
We actually have a stigma against protesting, or daring to express our outrage in the written word. It is seen as attention seeking, possibly the most heinous crime in our ever so 'umble society, and one that must be dealt with by an angry mob. I jest, angry mobs are scattered throughout history and they can be found anywhere from 0-0 football matches to internet chat rooms.
From a psychological perspective, writing is a form of baring your soul. Its like walking through Piccadilly stark naked, or discovering the priest in the confessional box has got you on loudspeaker. Some people like it, myself included. I am used to the words 'I can't believe you just said that', in the old days they were usually followed by a call to Room 7, (or any Corporate equivalent of room 101) and a uniformed escort from the building. I have since learned that it is far better to tell your boss/partner, relative, (ex) friends exactly what you think of them in written form (expletives included) that you must NEVER send, particularly in the case of your boss and you use descriptive narrative.
Writing can not only relieve anger and frustration, it is a great cure for loneliness, and you can feel lonely even when you are in a crowd. But for many, many people the loneliness is very real. As a young single mum without a babysitter, I longed to dress up and go party with my friends, and I actually cried real tears as I sat on my own night after night. I was a chatterbox rapidly running out of people to chatter to. And it wasn't because I was obnoxious (contrary to popular belief) though I took it that way, it was because my circle of friends were young, loved up or horny and preferred to spend their time with the opposite sex.
My writing has been described as Take a Break. That's absolutely fine and exactly what I am going for. It isn't necessary to use complex verbs and nouns and loads of jargon to get a point across. Some people go to such extreme lengths to show how clever they are, that their words come out as gobbledygook. They might know what they are trying to say, but their reader doesn't. My style, if I have one is unashamed homage to my own favourite writers, P.G. Wodehouse, Sue Townsend, Harper Lee, Jerry Seinfeld and Christopher Hitchens.
It is also a tribute to my dear old Dad who always had the time and patience to answer all my questions, from my childish 'but why's' to my teenage 'what's going on in Northern Ireland?' and beyond. If he didn't know the answer, he would find it, then explain it to me in a simple way that I could understand. I was the luckiest kid ever and I wanted the whole world to have a dad just like mine. If I couldn't share him, I wanted to be just like him. Of course, as an adult, we squabbled about everything, politics especially, but on one thing, we were solidly united, education, education, education.
But I don't rule out revenge either, everyone has encountered evil b'stads in their lives, people who have deliberately hurt them or who have set out to ruin their reputations. For those, I would say, fill your boots, they deserve it, you probably won't even have to be nasty, the truth will generally be enough.
If you are writing your memoirs, begin with the happy memories, the memories that moulded and shaped your character. The person you were at the age of 5, is the same person you are now, you may not throw yourself to the ground kicking these days or feel the urge to punch your brother in the eye, but you probably still want to.