Courting drama and the anti-drama monkey

anti drama monkey

The Anti-Drama Monkey

Courting drama is a favourite pastime of many creative folks – and many un-creative and pseudo creative folks too if we’re going to be pedantic – but I always wonder exactly how necessary it is. To be honest, there have been plenty of situations I could’ve and should’ve avoided in my life, but I’m glad to say I’ve stubbornly blinded myself to the consequences of my actions for personal reasons, not because I think living through fucked up shit will make me a better writer.

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.

Anti drama monkey habitat

Anti Drama Monkey's Natural Habitat

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.

It’s ok if I steal your life right?

Most of the time I’ve found it pretty easy to disguise the fact I’m constantly thieving form the lives of people around me (only when writing, honest) but recently someone let me in on some wild gossip that I missed happening a few years ago and I’m dying to turn it into a bit of fiction. The problem is, while I didn’t realise that this particular bunch of craziness was going on at the time, I do still know (at least vaguely) a whole bunch of the people involved and there’s not a chance they wouldn’t recognise the story and themselves if they happened to read it.

My head tells me I shouldn’t try writing it and that I’d only end up weakening the story if I tried to change it enough to make sure the characters had no resemblance to their real-life counterparts, but my typing fingers are dying to get stuck in.

I feel pretty bad about it to be honest, because I’ve always said I wouldn’t care about the consequences if I wanted to tell the story, but it looks as though I might have been a little inaccurate there – obviously the thought of pissing off/upsetting some folks is enough to still my pen, at least temporarily.

Real life – the writer’s best and worst friend

When I started blogging I assumed I’d end up giving it up pretty quickly. While that hasn’t happened (yet!), this last week has reminded me how easy it is to let writing slip when your real life intervenes.

I’ve had a mental week, some things have been good, some things bad and some just stressful. This has meant that I’ve had little time for writing, and of course the fact that I’ve been failing to meet my internal daily/weekly goals has been making me feel even worse.

However, the experience has lefty me feeling rather contemplative, and not just because I’ll take any excuse for a day dream. The question I’ve been pondering is: without a few madcap weeks every now and then, would I be a lot worse off for material? Nothing I write is biographical, and I never transpose real life experiences straight into fiction, but without that kind of frantic inspiration actual bad experiences give you I have a suspicion the creative process would be that much harder.

Therefore, real life must be a writer’s best friend, as well as their worst. Without the world kicking me in the teeth or providing me with good news that sometimes almost defies belief every now and then, I could easily become complacent and fail to capture things as I actually see them – instead relying on flimsy imaginary constructions. The only problem is trying to keep real life at bay long enough to scribble the thoughts down! Hopefully the coming weeks will give me the opportunity to do just that.