The workmen are long gone and now the exciting part of house renovation begin – decorating and furnishing the interior. This is the fun part. The part where we get to go and choose new furniture, accessories and colour schemes. What would make this part even more fun would be if we could pay for someone to do the decorating for us. Or even find a supposed painter and decorator who would actually like a job instead of shaking his head at my suggestions (which weren’t outlandish by anyone’s standards. I only wanted wallpaper on the walls and cream paint on the woodwork) and trying to force his own suggestions onto me. Needless to say, neither of us parted on friendly terms.
It’s fair to say that both my husband and I hate DIY decorating. Firstly, it’s never straightforward. What you imagine will be a relatively easy job rapidly turns into a massive headache when you discover damp on the stripped walls or half the plaster falls off the wall when you rip off the dated dado rail. And if this wasn’t enough, which frankly it is, decorating is time-consuming and tedious beyond belief. Then there is the added bonus of the fact that I am completely and utterly crap at decorating and find it impossible to do anything without making an almighty mess.
However, even I thought that I could paint the newly plastered walls of our conservatory. Not only were they newly plastered, the room isn’t particularly large and it currently without skirting boards. What could go wrong? Surprisingly enough, nothing. I managed to paint the walls without painting myself or the floors, which is a first. You would probably think I was buoyed up with success and extremely fussy with myself. And, perhaps, I would have been if it hadn’t been so boring.
Three hours I spent painting which wouldn’t have been so bad if I only had to do one coat of paint. But I didn’t. There was also a delineate second and a possible third to contend with. And the other five rooms that needed to be done. All the hours spent and to spend painting spread out in front of my eyes and made me want to throw my paintbrush down (carefully, so as not to make a mess of course) and proclaim that I wanted to live in a dump forever more.
The problem with the bigger picture is that, sometimes, it frightens us into inactivity. The task seems so impossible that there’s no point attempting it in the first place. I find the same thing with writing. I’m comfortable writing short stories and plays. The thought of writing anything longer causes me anxiety. What if I can’t develop a longer plot? What if I can’t write that many words? It worries me that I’ll never finish what I start so what’s the point of starting in the first place?
The answer as I damn well know is to break tasks into manageable small pieces. Today I will paint the walls, tomorrow I will paint them again. Today I will start a longer piece of work, tomorrow I will write another 500 words of it. And so on and so on until I reach the end goal. Small pieces are what’s needed. It’s a pity that I have to keep reminding myself of it.
I wrote last time about how some people want to pigeon-hole you, or even how you may feel the need to pigeon-hole yourself depending on what you do, wear, watch read and listen to. Unfortunately for writers, there is an added area where some people are not at all happy and comfortable unless they’ve shoved and stuffed you into a pigeon-shaped hole. This particular hole is not only pigeon-shaped but genre-shaped too.
“What genre do you write?” is a question I’ve been asked on more than one occasion. I wish people wouldn’t because I don’t know how to answer them. I am able tell people what I don’t write. I don’t write sci-fi or historical fiction or crime or thrillers or romances. Not that there’s anything wrong with any of these genres. I’ve read countless books in all and enjoyed most of them. It’s just my story telling, and I’m suspecting many other writers’ too, doesn’t fall into an easily pigeon-holed category.
The lack of an answer doesn’t go down well with the person asking the genre question either. They push and probe until, at last, they shake their heads, puff out their cheeks and look at you as if you are some sort of pathological liar who can’t possible have ever written anything in your life if you can’t even identify which genre it fits into.
Funnily enough, it isn’t other writers that want to do this. In fact, other writers have never asked me what genre I write. This could be because they are too busy with their own writing to be interested in what I’m doing. Or, maybe, the don’t see why it matters. Because it doesn’t. You write what you feel and everyone else be damned.
I’ve written before about how I’m perceived by different groups of friends (see Who Am I?). Some see me as quiet and a little reserved. Those who know me better and for longer see me as a bit gobby and as following my own path. I think the reason for this is probably because I have lots of different interests and, consequently, lots of different groups of friends. From writing to gardening, from archaeology to sewing (my latest love), from boozey nights out to alcohol free nights in; my life is busy, varied and certainly not dull.
I’ve always been one to throw myself into new experiences and challenges. I’m a firm believer in that we only get one shot at this thing called life and I don’t want to reach the end of mine with a long list of ‘what ifs?’ That’s why, last week I raved it up watching The Prodigy and this weekend I’m off to the theatre to see a Frozen Sing-Along (with my daughters of course). There’s no wonder people see me in different ways!
So, who is the real me? Am I the dirty, banging baseline loving Old Skool raver or the massive Disney fan? Am I the peace-making diplomat or the ‘you’ve crossed the line so run for the hills’ mouthy woman? C
an I really love baking and sewing and be a feminist? Of course I can. I and we all can all be anyone we want.
We should never allow ourselves, or others, to pigeon hole what we are or what we do. If you really want to do something, then go for it (providing it’s legal & morally sound obvs). Don’t ever worry about it not being cool or intellectual. There’s no better feeling then seeing the look of shock on someone’s face when they thought they had you sussed and then realise they don’t know you at all. Be a chameleon. Chameleons rock!