We recently made some new friends at the park who, as it happens, live just around the corner. Ok, ok, when I say “we” I mean Freya did all the leg work, I was just there in a supporting role the same as the other little girl’s mum.
They got on so well and as we lived so close together a playdate was arranged at their house. When no one fell-out or made anyone else cry (and that was just the adults) it was our turn to host.
About three minutes before they arrived I had a frantic tidy up. It takes Freya a good four minutes to make the living room look like a bomb has gone off so when they came in it looked, what my mum calls, “lived in”. The only trouble was, in my haste to clean up all her stuff I had left my notebook (if this is your first time here you might want to read this) on the dining table, closed but with the page I was writing on marked with a pen.
Everything was going really well until the small ones decided they wanted to do some colouring at the table. I let my new friend put her child in the booster seat as Freya is suddenly all grown-up and likes to sit on a normal seat. I thought it best to remove the cups and plates from the refreshments we’d had mid date (I am the hostess with the mostess) so while they settled in I popped into the kitchen.
I came out just in time to see her pick up my notebook to move to a safer spot away from Picasso and Monet and…take a quick peek inside. Her eyes widened in confusion followed by a look that said: “We need to leave. NOW.” She quickly put it down as if it was suddenly burning her fingers.
I keep that notebook in the living room so I can jot things down during the day when I don’t have access to the laptop, otherwise I end up scribbling on anything to hand, but it also contains pages and pages of photographs.
They are mainly famous, as they tend to have more photos available, and either torn from magazines or printed. I use them when I’m writing because I struggle a bit with descriptions (is that cheating?). When a character pops into my head, I then search for a face that fits to help me visualise them on the page (isn’t the Internet wonderful?). I don’t know anything about them in real life other than their name because they become my character. I once had to convince a hairdresser to let me rip out a page of her magazine for a face I liked – although I told her it was because I wanted to keep the story.
On the opposite page to the photos I write all the character development stuff the creative writing books say are necessary. That day my pen was bookmarking the photos and details for the character of Alex, although the lady above is Emma and I could tell you all about her, right down to her shoe size, if you wanted (I’m a lot of fun at parties).
But my new friend? She doesn’t know any of this and I accept, on the surface, that having lots of photos of random peoples’ faces stuck in a book might seem a bit…strange, bordering on weird, maybe. Hence her reaction.
I stood there for a couple of seconds and pondered what to do. Do I let her know that I had spotted her being nosy which is potentially embarrassing or ignore it and hope she didn’t hold it against me? And if I did call her out there was then the question of how to explain what was in the notebook.
Is it better to be considered a stalker or seem pretentious by announcing to someone I don’t know all that well “I’m a writer, dahling”?
I went with stalker.
She knows I am a journalist but I still struggle with saying the words “I’m writing a book” out loud (clearly I have no trouble telling you over and over again). I’m hoping it might come up in conversation, you know, if she doesn’t start blocking my calls and avoiding me in the street.
And if she finds out the truth and that doesn’t put her off… wait till I tell her I’m a blogger!