“Love will not betray you, dismay or enslave you, it will set you free – to be more of the man you were meant to be”. What a lyric. I would marry Mumford or any one of his Sons for writing that. Next week I turn 32 and enter my 20th month as a single woman. Deep breath. Singledom is strange after being part of a unit for ten years. I found it a little easier to swallow when I still had my cat, Boycie. Boycie is now feral, and so am I. I guess you could say I’m looking for love. No, let’s just say I’m keeping an eye out for it.
Not to come over all Carrie Bradshaw, but it got me thinking – how does love affect the writer? What is the best state for a writer to be in, Love-Wise, to produce her best work? Have I been head over heels in love? Check. Have I had an unrequited love? Check. Have I had my heart broken? CHECK CHECK CHECK! (I’m not bitter). So, how has it affected my writing?
Falling in love is the most fun a person can have. Every day feels like a holiday, you find beauty in the plainest of faces and hangovers feel like great adventures. “Man is a giddy thing” – again exquisitely expressed by Mumford & Sons (and originally Shakespeare). It’s fertile stuff for the writer. But without being crude, there’s only one thing I want to be doing shedloads of at this time and, baby, it ain’t writing. In the first couple of months of previous relationships I’ve only come out from under the duvet for a glass of cheap red or an episode of Only Fools (so fucking decadent).
Unrequited love – again its fruitful stuff. The chances are you could end up with a heaving folder on your hard drive bitterly entitled Poems You’re Never Going To Fucking Read. It’s all a bit too personal to let the rest of the world see, let alone the object of your affection. Having a broken heart is indeed stuff to stir the creative juices. I wrote some of my best and darkest poetry when my last relationship split. In fact the morning after it all imploded I woke on the sofa with a fully formed poem in my mind, which I scribbled feverishly on the back of a takeaway menu before embarking on a three day binge of booze and daytime TV. Again, it’s deeply personal. Will it ever be shared? And if not, does that matter? Am I just an audience-whore, my work only matters if others read it? Thought provoking stuff. I wrote Chicken Shop in the two months after my relationship ended, hauled up in my bedsit fervently tapping away. (I say bedsit because I am a drama queen. It was actually a studio. A nice one). Despite the dark subject matter (sex trafficking) it provided a welcome distraction from the fact that my world had just been ripped apart. And, it sounds a bit loopy, but the characters kept me company.
The truth is all human experience is great because it allows you to write from a place of truth. But a fertile imagination and empathy are also two attributes that are essential for a writer, you don’t have to have gone through it yourself to write about it. Writing is cathartic, and I also think it’s important to record extreme times of my life. So I guess its each to their own. But one thing I do know is that relationships take time, and time is something I do not have at the moment.
It’s natural to want to find a partner isn’t it? We float through this life, governed by inevitability, gloomily aware of our own mortality, striving to make a connection with another human being; Spiritual. Emotional. Physical. A brief glimmer of hope in a dark night of uncertainty… With this in mind I joined Match.com. It was on Match that I got to converse, albeit virtually, with characters like SoldierMakeYouGush and ChocolateSuperfreak84. Eligible bachelors ‘Just Lukin 4 a Gud Harted Gal’ who ‘Just wanna find sumwun to LOL with’. Jesus Christ.
Like everything in life I tried to approach Match with joy and purpose. Wittily crafted messages referring merrily to their love of Lord of The Rings or hatred of 80′s pop, or their obsession with extreme sports (always with the extreme sports!) Making tenuous links with them: “You like to have a laugh? Well I like to have a laugh too! Incredible! We mustmeet!” But the guys that approach you? That is another matter. What a rogues gallery. Indicative of these is OxBoy55. In his picture he smokes a pipe. He has a handlebar moustache. He loves motorbikes and (bizarrely) Phantom of The Opera. He’s got a touch of the Wagner about him. And yes, he wants ME. OxBoy’55′ you say? Could it really be that there are another 54 OxBoys on Match.com? No. 55 is Oxboy’s age. I shit you not.
I did go on one date through Match. It didn’t go very well. At one point he was in the loo so long I thought he’d made a break for it through the window, and I wished I’d thought of it first. However, I can’t lay all the blame at his door. For future reference ladies, it is not advisable to snigger impishly when your date orders a hot chocolate and exclaim. ‘That’s masculine’. Neither is it advisable to devote more than three or four minutes conversation time to your love of Wetherspoons. Perhaps it’s wise to reserve your seagull-meets-baby-seal laugh for the second date. I mean don’t go giving him the whole ball of wax on the first night.
So I have given up on all that crap for the moment and I’m happily coasting through life, just me and Larry (the Laptop), and some amazing friends and family, who give me great support and tell me to stop being a twat when I need it. What am I missing really? When I wrote for Playlist, a piece based on Adele’s Someone Like You, the character is talking to her ex and she says: “I yearn to be in the same place as you; not next to you, in the same room even, but in the same house. As you potter and I potter our proximity is all I need to be at ease”. As I sat waching X-Factor on my jack jones the other night I realised that’s what I miss. Presence. Sounds. The gentle clink clank of pots and pans, the boiling of a kettle, the frying of an egg. A lover in the vicinity, washing, cooking, tidying round, ready to join you shortly and fill the space by your side. Of course me and my lovely flatmate potter together, but there something beautifully comfortable and contented about pottering with your partner.
And with that in mind, I grabbed Larry and started writing this blog. Oh hang on – It would seem I have just revealed that occasionally, just occasionally, I write whilst watching X-Factor! Haha! I am joking of course.