On Friday I had a tantrum. I didn’t feel too bad about it as Frog used to have tantrums all the time. I’m not blaming Frog. It takes two to make a situation and, if Frog’s sins were of commission, then mine were of omission.
Yes, I know, I’m talking in riddles, but that’s all I’m going to say for the moment.
I wasn’t brought up to be angry. I do remember however losing my temper occasionally with my four younger brothers and sisters. I had taken it upon myself to look after them all and sometimes it all just got too much. I have a vivid memory of one of my sisters barricading herself in her bedroom and me trying to kick the door down. So I do have a temper - and quite a good one at that.
So, having not been brought up with anger – not with much emotion at all in fact – I didn’t know how to deal with Frog’s anger. I shut myself off. The angrier he got, the more I retreated, until eventually I would go and hide in another part of the house while Frog would rampage around looking for me.
One day, I’d had enough. I emerged, squared up to Frog and said, ‘Just stop it.’ Amazingly, he did.
Now, it’s mostly the dog that Frog gets angry with and, for my part, the fact that it’s a dog rather than a person who’s now bullying me must mean that I’m nearly there. (And I will get to grips with that canine monster, I promise.)
Anyway, Frog and I – with all our practice – retrieved the situation on Friday and on Saturday I woke up feeling good.
We used to have a friend (she doesn’t like me any more) who had a theory. It wasn’t good to be too healthy all the time. Sometimes your body needed a wake-up call to get it working – too much alcohol, too much chocolate, not enough sleep. A bit like jumping into cold water, I suppose. Maybe anger, or strong emotions in general, are rather like that too – although there are I know far better ways than tantrums of letting them out.
Part of the problem was that I’d got myself confused. I’d become stuck on the novel and so I’d thought I wasn’t a novel-writer. I’d started exploring other ways of justifying my existence – a job, a non-fiction project. The non-fiction project didn’t work out and I was stranded.
Recently I was re-reading Roald Dahl’s brilliant autobiography Boy in which there’s a wonderful section about being a writer. Unfortunately I’ve taken the book back to library so I can’t quote it to you, but it begins something like, ‘In comparison with the life of a businessman, the life of a writer is hell’ – and he’d been both. Every day, you have to come up with new ideas, and every day before you sat down to write you didn’t know if you could do it. ‘No wonder we all drink too much whisky,’ he said.
I would agree. Maybe hell is going a bit far, but trying to write and not being able to is just about the worst feeling I know. Whether it’s worse than not even trying I’m not sure – and certainly the effect on me of not trying (viz tantrums) is pretty unpleasant. On the other hand, when writing works the feeling is amazing – like love.
So one of the things we resolved on Friday night was that I was actually a writer after all. I couldn’t escape it. I had to keep trying with the novel.
And, as were driving to Glastonbury on Saturday morning, I had an idea. The main character of my novel was going to have a tantrum too.
Yesterday, I manoeuvred her into position. Today I have to send her into the attack.
Wish me luck.