Many, many years ago – 2012 to be exact – I used to stay up late at night, spewing out my thoughts into this blog.
A lot of water has passed under the bridge since then. I am definitely older and hopefully a bit wiser. Some bad things have happened to me, but also some good things too. I have a steady job and have made lots of wonderful friends in the last 3 years.
On the political front I have probably mellowed. The Lucy of 2012 would have been an unabashed Corbynista, yet the Lucy of 2015 is definitely not. I just can’t be. I will make a lot of you very angry by saying why – he will not win an election in a country that goes beserk over Black Friday, a hideous orgy of consumerism that has no other function other than to make us all poorer and to fill our cluttered homes with even more clutter. I refuse to participate but that is because I am weird. And also skint. But lots of other people are skint and they still spend money they haven’t got on things they don’t need.
I’m ranting again – it never takes long. Hence the title. But part of the reason I have started the blog again is that I have begun to write. Proper writing. Fiction. Books. Long strings of words that pour out of my fingertips as I tap away on the computer the kids use for watching episodes of Annoying Orange. Which is indeed extremely annoying.
I began writing the book – which is called The Flats – a few days after the election. I ran around like a twat in a very unflattering red T-shirt that made me look about 5 months pregnant. I felt like I was part of history as I shouted myself hoarse on the streets of North London.
Then the result. A disaster. Then into work the following day. I was feeling VERY sorry for myself. Poor me – all that jazz. I don’t really do self pity, but I allowed myself just this once. I spoke to a student:
“Feeling very upset about the election.”
“What election innit miss.”
An eye opener. Outside the political bubble, no one gave a shit. Especially not young people – although according to Twitter they were all #milifans.
I went home that day feeling very odd. Something had gone quite wrong. No one likes the Tories much, but people liked Labour even less. Outside of the cosy world of Kentish Town – which I love as much as I love my own children – people had given the values of Labour a big fat no thank you.
I am obviously writing this somewhat after the event – but bear with me. There is method in my madness. I received numerous invitations to join various demos to march on Downing Street (or something) and just couldn’t be arsed. I felt no one was listening.
A phrase kept repeating itself inside my head. ‘Hearts and minds’. ‘Hearts and minds’. I felt that maybe rather than to shout at people, we needed to go a bit deeper. We needed to tell new stories. Explain to people why the values of the left were actually the values of enlightened self interest. How being part of a community was actually a good thing. How social housing benefits everyone. How cities die if everyone apart from the very well off is chucked out and moved on. I genuinely think I am one of the richest people I know – in terms of sheer diversity of acquaintance – and I wanted to celebrate this in writing.
I wanted to tell stories.
I sat down and began to write. I enjoyed it. I enjoyed writing. I enjoyed it so much I would ignore texts from friends and eschew Facebook. I loved watching characters develop in front of my eyes. I liked the way I made people real. I liked the way although the book started off being a bit about me it soon took me into another world. I was being creative. In the true sense.
This was an eye opener. For years and years I worked in the so-called creative industries, largely making very bad television. I was paid well for it and met lots of wonderful people. But was I creative? Debatable. I did what I was told for money and made a few people laugh. I won’t knock it as it paid for my house and gave me many wonderful experiences. But what I have been doing in the last few months feels very different. Very.
Over the summer I got more and more obsessed with the writing. I showed it to a few people and they were very encouraging. I was shocked. It made me write more. I found myself walking down the street thinking about what I was going to do to characters. Were they going to live or die? Who was fucking who? How would this person speak and what would they wear? I was on a mission.
I finished it in October. I crashed. Then I edited it. Then I started sending it out. Tentatively at first, but now I am firing it out like an unguided missile. I have sent it to people from literally all walks of life. I think it deserves an audience and over the next few weeks I shall be releasing what I think are the highlights.
I know it needs editing in places and have had a good go at it myself.
But we are rarely our best critics.
I look forward to hearing what YOU think.
And more importantly, I need your help.