Living in My Head

A long time ago, so long it’s BC (Before Children), I decided to write a novel. I took a year, battled the muse, created so much stuff that it can be hard to store and that’s just the paper-trail, not the electronic dump! And then I put it aside, got a job and went on with life. That was that.

The problem is, that though I can stuff all the chapters in a cupboard to gather dust, I can’t remove them from my head. My characters haunt me. Every now and then, they will pop out at an inopportune moment (is there an opportune moment I wonder?) and insist that I need to get on with it – they’re not getting any younger. . .

It happens whether I want it to or not – when I’m meant to be making sandwiches for the kids, or tidying the bedroom. Or more often, late at night after resettling little J and battling to get enough sleep to function the next day.

I have rewritten that darn novel in my head a dozen times over as many years. In my mind I can walk down the streets of that city, know the people, the history, the landscape, politics and geopolitics. I have sketchbooks full of character studies, and detailed genealogies all gathering dust in a forgotten corner of my house.

Usually when my characters get too insistent, I just shake my head and go on with my day, albeit a little distracted. But, well, sometimes, you just gotta get sh*t done (and thank you Pamela and the Grew Crew for the push!). So this week, I sat down, dusted off my old files and went digging.

And then things got creepy. My life had started to mirror my characters. Over that dozen years, I had learned a heck of a lot about giftedness, and disability. About education and psychology. And when I went to look at what I had created, in my gut I got scared. Yes, scared. It was all there, wrapped up in a neat package, like I had mapped out my future path unknowing. Fighting against prejudice and an inactive bureaucracy, looking for alternative education. Unschooling; strewing. Albeit, a little naively written, and with whole dollops of wrongheadedness that made me want to go and give my old self a shake, ‘What exactly were you thinking, girl?‘.

But there was something worth saving in all the dross. And my characters agreed – they wanted to be out of my head as well. So this week, I started rewriting. I have no idea where it will lead, or whether I will have something other people will want to read. I don’t know. That’s part of the adventure.

But it’s an adventure worth having, and in between all the hair-pulling, self-flagellation and putting-one-word-next-to-another agony, it might even be a little fun. And I’m going to keep telling myself that. Because then those damn characters might give me a break.

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