Tuesday, 21 January 2014

Could the real Dr. Jekyll or Mr. Hyde please stand up....

Hello future me

It has been a while, a lot has passed but not a lot has happened.  Another Christmas has been and gone as well as another New Year, obviously.  It was a good one, nice and quiet, just the way I like it.  But now we're back at the beginning, that time of the year where a lot of us hold on to optimism like a life raft, making promises to ourselves that we have every intention of keeping, but probably won't.  I ended the year trying to polish my MS and I'm still not happy with it, is anyone ever happy with their own work??  Something to think about for later I suppose, if you can answer this question, please let me know, I think it will help me.

A thought occurred to me over the festive period, I have been trying to finish my first piece for the better part of 6 months and think I am as close as I can get with out any help, so what now?  Send it off and hope for the best.  But whilst I wait around eagerly for those rejection slips, what do I do now?  That's easy, start book two.  I have the basic story in my head for my second attempt, I know what the beginning, middle and end should be, but if book one was anything to go by, that'll change, (You know what I'm talking about).

The thing is I've noticed something strange happens when I write.  Editing and re-writing not so much, I'm talking about getting the initial idea down on paper.  I believe, and I haven't written enough books to know whether this is always going to be the case, but I'm almost sure that my personality changes.  Whilst I love this part of the process, the actual writing of a piece from scratch, I have noticed that I am a different Pip from the one I normally project.

I have smoked on and off since I was 15.  Pathetic, sad, dangerous, etc, I know, but over the last couple of years I have tried to give the habit up and to a certain extent I have succeeded.  The longest I have been able to resist those disgusting things is 18 months, however, when I write, I've found that I am drawn to smoking like the proverbial moth.

Other things happen too.  I am not moodier per se, but I am quicker to anger, more likely to fly off the handle.  I also find that when I am writing a new piece that I don't want to be around people either, which if you ask my wife, is pretty bad as I am fairly unsociable at the best of times.  I try to avoid papers and world news, which is very ignorant in the eyes of many, but I find myself getting frustrated at the unfairness of the world and how situations are dealt with, who doesn't?

My eating habits change too.  I cut myself down to one meal a day and if I could, I would drink Jack Daniels every day.  As it is I only allow myself to drink on a Friday or Saturday night and then I have to control myself otherwise I would get truly trollied.

I believe it's because of what I write.  In the stories I am trying desperately to tell, my protagonist is a very angry man.  An orphan who knows nothing about his parents.  A war veteran, who has seen more than his fair share of the shit life can throw at you.  I'd like to think that he is a good guy, the kind of person that if he did allow you into his life, you would be better off for it, but you would have to understand that life has changed him significantly and that's why you would excuse his black and white approach to things.  He certainly doesn't suffer fools and finds it impossible to trust anyone anymore, but he is a good person, the best person, the only problem is, he's broken.

As I have mentioned before, this is not a blog on how to write a book, if you're reading this hoping to gain some kind of insight in to what it is to write, I'm afraid I can't help, I wish I could, I really do.  However, if you want to know what writing can do to someone, make them feel, then I think I am honest about how it affects me.  I realise that not everyone feels like I do when I write, this is just one mans journey to see if he can accomplish something he really wants to do.  It's all I think about, writing, am I any good at it, only time and an agent, then an editor and then a publisher will tell, but I won't hold my breath, lol.

Unfortunately, like a lot of other people, I suffer from quite severe anxiety and depression.  I would say it's held in check most of the time, but I'm willing to bet my wife would say different.  I find it almost impossible to be amongst people, a person or two I can manage, but anything that I constitute as a crowd terrifies me.  Just so that you know, a crowd for me is defined by anyone who isn't my wife and two girls.  I will rarely go outside unless it's unavoidable, and then when I do leave the safety of my home, I have to psych myself up for it as much in advance as possible, a week tends to be just enough, but the more preparation I can do, the better.

I can completely understand why anyone would find it frustrating when someone announces they suffer from anxiety and depression, a lot of people who have never suffered or aren't aware that they might be suffering from it think that a most people just use it as an excuse, I used to be one of those people I'm ashamed to say.  But it is a very serious condition to handle.  It infects you like a virus, the only problem is, once it has it's hold on you I believe it's almost impossible to get rid of it.  There is medication, lot's of it, I suspect that anti-depressants has to be one of the biggest earners for the pharmaceutical firms and their profits, but I found when I was on it, and I was for a long time, that it freaked me out.  Often I could lose days when I was taking that stuff and I don't like that, I have to know what is going on at all times, due to my other condition, it is built in to me, as I also have Asperger's Syndrome.

For anyone reading this who doesn't know what Asperger's might be, you will find a wiki-link here.  I think this might be the first time I have mentioned this to anyone other than my wife.  Why?  Because I'm can't help but feel embarrassed.  I'm not ashamed, how can I be, it's not my fault, but I do find that it hinders me everyday, especially when I am in a situation with people I don't know.  As the Dr. who diagnosed me said, and I quote,

'Whilst I know you find everyday social things incredibly difficult, on the plus side Pip, you have an IQ that exceeds 160.'

'Great.'  I thought sarcastically.  What the hell am I supposed to do with that. 

I always knew I was different from most people, I can do the kind of maths in my head that most would have difficulty doing on a calculator.  I have this annoying ability to memorise almost everything I see, hear or read.  I play several musical instruments, because I love music and because of that, I have an inherent need to know how music works.  Unfortunately I can't take music apart, not like I can a laptop or a toaster and look at the components and see what it takes to make it work, so I decided to learn read music and then play the instruments that I enjoyed so I could get my head round it.  I have to say it was one of the best things I ever did, as often the music I play drowns out everything else for a little while.  I make connections all the time, especially it seems, when no-one else sees them.  I'm not saying I'm right when I do, but an awful lot of the time I tend to be on the button.  I can also count cards, up to three decks at a time and I can solve a Rubik's cube in less than a minute.  All skills that I'm sure you will agree have the building blocks to set you up for life.  Not really.

I think what I'm trying to say is that I spend most of my waking hours trying not to be the person I should be, because otherwise people don't get me.  I am never rude and if I am it's never intentional and often I don't know I'm doing it.  I never introduce myself as ' Hi my name is Pip and I have anxiety, depression and Asperger's', even I know that would be weird.  But a lot of the time I don't know what to say at all.

A couple of months ago a friend invited me to a party.  It was late, everybody was having a good time and the drink was flowing, I hated every minute of it.  This one guy was being particularly obnoxious but no one would say anything as the man in question was the boss of most of the people at the party.  Anyway, at one point he wasn't looking where he was going and spilt his drink on me.  I'm not very confrontational, it's not in my nature, unless I am pushed.  As soon as he turned around he took one look at me, instantly decided I wasn't important enough to apologies to and instead chose to berate me in front of anyone who could see and listen.  I let him get into full swing as he called me all the idiots under the sun, whilst he did this I just stood and watched him and his demeanour.  I was looking for what I call the 'Tell', something about him wasn't right, all I had to do was figure it out.  It turns out there was loads that was wrong with this particular bloke.  After a few minutes of shouting at me he really got his stride on, the bloke was shit faced so his bravado and sense of self importance were turned up to eleven, and the fact that he was attracting quite an audience whilst he continued with his assessment of me drove him on further.  I continued to stare at him and when he had stopped talking I remember asking if he had done, he nodded, very pleased with himself and then in front of the sizeable crowd I told him that it was now my turn.  But instead of shouting at him, I leant over to him and whispered in to his ear, I couldn't have been there, whispering into this strangers ear for any more than a minute or two.  Once I had finished what I needed to say, he quickly shut up and according to a lot of witnesses he went very pale.  Not long after that he grabbed his coat and left the venue.  Everyone cheered and brought me drinks, even though no-one knew what it had been that I said to him.  A lot asked, so I lied and told them that I had told him that if he didn't fuck off I would beat the shit out of him.  I suspect everyone knew that wasn't the case, as the guy was twice my size and would have destroyed me, probably, but he was gone and because of that everyone just smiled at me and then continued to have a good night.  Later on that night my friend asked me what I had said to him, but I told him the same and he laughed at me as he knew I was lying.  What I actually said to him is as follows.

'Listen pal, we're all just trying to have a good time, so unless you want your wife to know that you're having an affair with your executive salesman I suggest you leave.  And before you deny it, let me explain how I know.  For a start I can tell you're not wearing the same shirt that you came here in, and neither is your sales exec.  The one you're wearing now is to small for you and the one he has on is far to big, besides the aftershave on the shirt doesn't match the one you're wearing.  Now I'm guessing your wondering how it is I know you're married.  Well your wedding ring is on the wrong hand but the right finger, which tells me that you put it on that hand so you won't forget to put it on the correct one before you get home and your wife notices, and your recent fake tan has left an obvious tan line on your left hand, telling me that you've only just recently taken the ring off.  Now if I'm wrong, and I suspect that I'm not, you can beat the shit out of me now and look very hard in front of your staff, but before you land one punch I'll be sure that everyone here knows of my suspicions and judging by the way your secretary has followed you around all night and they way she is looking at us, which leads me to suspect that you're also having an affair with her, I believe that she will be jealous enough to tell everyone, including your missus what it is the two of you have been up too.  Understand?'

I think the point I am trying to make is, like most, I find life difficult and whilst I can read binary coding like most people read a newspaper, I often wonder at these times if I'm almost living a lie, just so that others will find me more...normal. 

So when I write who am I?  Am I the Pip that most people see and know, a quiet, if not slightly odd individual who avoids any and all social interaction just because I am scared to death of what might happen at any given moment or am I the Pip I become when I write.  The smoking, drinking, swearing, frustrated, analytical, slightly arrogant pain in the arse that I seem to become.  I know which one I would rather be.

I hate that I am the way I am, I'm usually to timid to say or do anything and that frustrates me, but when I allow myself to get comfortable, to be the person I should be I'm scared that people won't understand me.  Or is it just because I am writing about someone who I see a lot of myself in and because my protagonist is like that I let myself become him??

When you write, do you feel a change in you?  Do you act differently?  Does your writing dictate who you are whilst you're working or is it all part of the process.  I think what I'm trying to figure out is it normal to be like this.  I know I'm not what people would probably class as 'normal' but that's my issue.

Anyway, that's enough for today.  I feel the other Pip waking.  It's time to kick arse and chew gum and I'm all out of gum.

Look after yourself, but above all, stay cool.

Always wondering

Pip  x