I was somewhat of a neurotic kid, and I went on to be come an even more neurotic teenager. For most of my twenties the neurosis was clinical, tapering off to a more manageable ‘we’re all a bit crazy’ in my early thirties. Then something spectacular happened, I had a baby and it knocked the neurosis clean out of me.
I know many women go the other way, and I guess I got lucky. There’s something about the constant immediacy of a helpless living creature that focuses the mind entirely, and the urge to obsess about an incident in a bar in the early nineties dissipates completely. Like all the best metamorphosis, I can barely remember how I used to be, and I often think I make up stories about my misspent youth, just to sound interesting.
More recently, I’m starting to suspect that all my tall tales weren’t actually that tall at all. As crazy creeps into my bedroom at 4 a.m., and shakes me awake with another barrage of unhelpful what if scenarios, I long for a howling baby who shuts up when you feed it. Crazy, on the other hand, is a lot harder to put to sleep. If I engage, then the possibilities are infinite. What if no-one reads the book? quickly becomes What if they do and they hate it? which begets the question Why would they hate it? which invites the answer They won’t hate it, if they do, it’s because they don’t get it which poses the query Why won’t they get it? What’s not to get? which prompts the response They won’t get me! They won’t get me!, and suddenly it’s 1993 again, and there’s this incident in a bar…
Only, it’s not the nineties. I’m painfully aware of this, as I sip chamomile tea instead of sinking back Stella – the young lad gets very judgey if I’m drunk before breakfast. It’s all the exposure, see? It’s driving me a bit nuts. I know that’s ironic, ‘coz that’s what creatives types crave – attention, an audience.
Pondering this paradox takes another half hour, and the ship sails on getting more sleep tonight. That starts me worrying about my future lack of energy. How will it affect my performance and drive, in the days ahead, when I need to be on top of my game? Wtf did I become a race horse? It’s very confusing, all this sub-dividing of self into other parts. One part creative- one part seller – one part promoter – one part cheerleader. Just to be clear, I never signed signed off on the cheerleader part. That’s the self that hasn’t already been subdivided by Motherhood. One part carer – one part teacher – one part nurse – one part cleaner – one part cook – one part play mate – one part playstation repairer- one part social representative for your child in the outside world. So, keep your hair washed, and your nails clipped, or he might not get an invite to you know who’s party.
Now, I know other women do all this s*** and never complain, except to each other, where they are always sure to find a captive audience of empaths. Even then, there’s always a caveat about how much they love whoever they’re wishing harm on. Normally, those they’re compelled to care for. Why would you want to kill strangers unless your a psychopath? Which, statistically, most women aren’t.
Except in Nailing Jess, my debut novel, out on June 26th. Withering, the novel’s setting, is overrun with female psychopaths, which is one reason why you should read it. Another is that it’s very funny.