Saturday, 18 September 2010
Yesterday, after I'd been to my sister's workplace to talk about being a writer, I came back home and began researching for my next book. This consisted of sitting on the sofa, drinking tea, and putting in a call to Emmeline.
The call went something like this:
'I've been asked out by an incredibly wealthy, ridiculously handsome, single-mother loving, kind man, aged 35 with a GSOH. And he's going to buy me my favourite dog.' A spaniel, in case you wondered. 'Should I go on a date with him?'
'Well, I don't know,' she said. 'Has he got anything else going for him?'
'Yes,' I said. 'He's the world champion at cunnilingus.'
'I think you should leave it,' she said. 'He doesn't sound much good to me. You want a grumpy out-of-work type.' (I think this is the dating advice I give to myself, truly.)
Hm, the call didn't go anything like that at all. Instead we chatted about 'sticking to the story' because I keep changing mine. My second book is about a single mum who is given everything she thought she ever wanted: a big man, with big bucks, a big heart, and a huge co...co...clock.... ; but she isn't certain she loves him. The person she loves is her childhood sweetheart and he, the little, rascal, is going to come back and unsettle everything.
I'm undecided on how far to stretch the characters: should the man, Alex Banks, be super-super rich; or should he simply be well awwwf
You know, like a dentist.
If he's super rich, the stakes are high and the comedy is too.... he can be a toff and she can be a scally. And then the story is about escapism, and what ifs. Like,' what if Prince William dumped Kate Middleton for me?' (It might happen?)
If Alex is not a toff, then the story is more realistic and the book becomes about something that could actually happen; and indeed many women go through. They settle for security, in place of love. And then the comedy will be situational, and there's a darker element to the plot.
'What I want to write about,' I say. 'Is this idea that all of us are guilty of thinking that someone else is getting a better deal.'
(I'm speaking in my northern vernacular again, the London-lilt has now truly worn off.)
What I mean to say is that Katy Sullivan looks at other people, like I used to, and thinks, I want what you have; I hate my life. But when she is given the opportunity to have it all she realises that the grass isn't greener just because the fertilizer is more expensive.
'So, it's a story about the grass not being greener on the other side?' says Emmeline.
Then I told her about the mum I met the other weekend, with her two children, a boy and a girl, the £20k+ a year nanny, the £100k a year job, and a lifestyle she thinks she doesn't want.
As we sat in another mum's garden supping tea and eating biscuits, one woman's husband called wondering when she would be home. I think she wanted to stay longer. She said she wanted my life, (believe me, you don't). How she thought it would be easier as a single mum (her nanny earns more than me). I tried to put her right: 'Oh no, no, no' I said. 'It gets lonely.'
One of other mum's said, 'It's the same for us too, darling.'
Another one added, 'Try spending everyday with someone you don't love.'
But the nanny, the holidays, the house....I thought.
It can't possibly be worse than, no nanny, an empty house and no holidays?