The hilariousness of the writer’s life

A fertile imagination is always helpful

I saw this poster in a shop recently and found it hilarious but then, I would. This is exactly like those “Beware of Dog” warnings outside people’s houses. It’s there to send a shiver down your spine. Or work as a cop-out clause when the beast comes and wraps its jaws around your fleshy calf. Yes, I mean you…

It is a fact that I’ve had to acknowledge that there is a new wariness amongst my circle of friends, family and foes too – ever since I announced to them that I was writing fiction. When I worked as a journalist, I was feted and indulged amongst my near and dear ones. It was all ha ha, wonderful to know you, let’s meet for lunch, and mwah, mwah all around. People kept me happy in the hope that I might lead them to fame and fortune and I mostly did. To my friends, I was the one with the access – to be fan-in-chief while meeting the stars – writers, musicians, film stars. Celebrities (minor ones, I have to confess, in the interests of honesty) in turn, treated me with respect as I’d help their halos shine bright. Occasionally I’d channel my inner rotweiler but my bark was almost always louder than my bite, because the sad truth is that a journalist is also the failed/wannabe actor, writer or musician.

Well, now, it’s about seeing through the falsehood of the lives I see around me and sticking two fingers at the hypocrisy of the folks in it. My quest for true expression  is gaining momentum. Gritty reality and truth are clamouring to be told and heard and for that I need to mine that cesspit of inspiration – my life and the people in it. The truth is out – every night I sit and hatch a plan to include you, and you, all your shenanigans and yours too.

Since embarking on this rocky road, I’ve wondered if I’ve imagined the barge pole between my once close circle of friends, family and me. That reserve, that bland veneer, that about-turn on crossing my path is hiding a quaking heart and I know it. You lie awake at night worrying about what I’m going to say, use and reveal. Don’t you worry, I’ll carve it out and serve it for all to see!! The hills are burning and there’s nowhere to hide.

This Sunday, I’ll be attending a reading by Salman Rushdie. I’m quite excited as you can see. He’s a literary rockstar for many – controversial, a charming show-off, a master of being outrageous and profound all at once. What’s not to admire? Now, at these sort of events when there is a writer on stage discussing his mighty tome that has involved tons of research and study, there is invariably someone in the audience who asks this very silly question – “Where do you get your ideas from?” Before Salman Rushdie gives a withering put down, I hope he admits this simple truth. They all end up in the novel.



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  1. What is it like to write fiction? Bed of roses? Labour of love? More like thorn in the flesh & rapacious excision. But truth-telling is not for the fainthearted, Mites. I feel your pain and hope Mr Rushdie helped salve your conscience…..

  2. Thanks Jackie! ‘Rapacious excision’ sounds temptingly vicious. Mr Rushdie was far more erudite (obviously) and said some interesting things about writing as a form of improvisation. Using little snapshots of people we meet/know and just weaving it into the narrative…reading the signed copy.

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