People do it, and fair play to them I suppose, but I hate the idea of encouraging melodrama or refusing to fix a relationship or problem purely because you think it will add to your reputation as an ‘artistic’ person or will provide you with fodder for future work.
It’s true that if you live a crazy life you may have more basic material than some but in my opinion your imagination and ability to empathise are the most important tools anyway, so why invite disruption into your life? And worse, why invite it on the other people in your life? I look at some writers and aspiring writers and I can’t help feeling sorry for their friends and partners. Not only because they’ve chosen to hang out with an egocentric writer, but also because they are being treated like experiments – as though they are nothing more than potential characters and not the thinking and feeling individuals they are.
It drives me mad when I hear people shrug off some god-awful mess they’ve created for themselves with a ‘well, it’ll make a good story someday’. I want to shout at them to get a grip and realise they can write a million stories, and none of them need be their lives. I hate the idea of instigating bad times for their entertainment value. I don’t want the drama. I want it to play out on the page – I don’t want it to be a game in the real world, where real people get hurt and not everyone is as good at forgetting as I am.
However, every now and then – when I’ve been hanging out with a lot of particularly dramatic types – I start to forget all of this and begin to worry that I’m not living the life the way I should, that I’m too boring and will never get anywhere at this rate.
When that happens, I know it’s time to call on the anti-drama monkey! Gifted to me by a most awesome friend, this little chap popped into my life one pretty rubbishy Christmas in the form of a ‘knit your own monkey’ kit. At the time it felt as though everything was going wrong for various reasons and I was truly in danger of courting unnecessary drama, instead I got out the needles.
I’m not the best knitter and the poor dude is a little lumpy, but concentrating on him took my mind off the stuff that was driving me mental and reminded me I don’t need to make life more complicated for myself – I’ve got prose to play out my complications in. Henceforth, he became known as the anti-drama monkey and he sits on my bookcase to remind me that keeping it simple doesn’t make me a worse writer – it just makes me a saner Lynsey.