Started reading a book yesterday called My Name is Mina by David Almond. And I’m in awe.
Well, not really – I’m actually piqued that David has snuck into my head and life, stolen the best bits and turned them into this book. I would have said that this novel is a work of genius were I were not so irked.
For example, I’m a self confessed pantser. I don’t plan or plot my writings, I make them up as I go along. I fly by the seat of my pants (geddit?)
Now here comes Mina:
I did want to be what they called a good girl, so I did try. There was one fine morning when the sun was shining through the classroom window. There was a cloud of flies shimmering and dancing in the air outside. I heard Mrs. Scullery telling us that she wanted us to write a story. Of course we’d need to write a plan first, she said.
She asked us whether we understood.
We told her that we did.
So I stopped staring at the flies (which I had been enjoying very much!), and I wrote my plan. My story would have such and such a title, and would begin in such and such a way, then such and such would happen in the middle, then such and such would be the outcome at the end.
I wrote it all down very neatly.
I showed my plan to Mrs. Scullery, and she was very pleased. She even smiled at me and said, “Well done, Mina. That is very good, dear. Now you may write the story.”
But of course when I started to write, the story wouldn’t keep still, wouldn’t obey. The words danced like flies. They flew off in strange and beautiful directions and took my story on a very unexpected course. I was very pleased with it, but when I showed it to Mrs. Scullery, she just got cross. She held the plan in one hand and the story in the other.
“They do not match!” she said in her screechy voice.
“I don’t know what you mean, Miss,” I said.
She leaned down towards me.
“The story,” she said, in a slow stupid voice like she was talking to somebody slow and stupid, “does not fit the plan!”
“But it didn’t want to, Miss,” I answered.
“Didn’t want to? What on earth do you mean, it didn’t want to?”
“I mean it wanted to do other things, Miss.”
She put her hands on her hips and shook her head. “It is a story,” she said. “It is your story. It will do what you tell it to.”
“But it won’t,” I said. She kept on glaring at me.
“And Miss,” I said, like I was pleading with her to understand. “I don’t want it to, Miss.”
I should have saved my breath. She flung the papers onto my table.
“This is typical of you,” she said. “Absolutely typical!”
And she turned to a girl called Samantha and asked her to read her tale, which was something about a girl with curly hair and her cuddly cat, a perfectly planned idiotic thing in which nothing interesting happened at all! And of course all the other kids were giggling through it all, and it led to one of the nicknames I had back then. Typical. Absolutely Typical McKee.
Huh! Huh! Typical!
My stories were like me. They couldn’t be controlled and they couldn’t fit in. Trying to be a good girl sometimes made me very sad.
See what I mean? That’s almost exactly what I said, right?
Anyway – whatever.
And another thing: walking to work whilst reading this book today prompted a thought to pop into my mind. The thought was this: ‘I don’t like it when people that are grown-up and male write books from the point of view of people that are grown-down and female. It makes the whole of what they are writing seem less real, realistic and believable. And I want to believe in books. So from now on (right up until the point at which I change my mind) all my writings are going to be about me. My stories, my thoughts, my adventures, my aspirations and my dreams. Roll on, roll on.