I have a condition that means I find social interaction tiring and difficult. Yes, there are those out there that will disagree, but I have a medical certificate which shows I am ‘functioning’. In other words I can appear normal, I hide what happens on the inside. My social life is difficult to me and very limited. I am happiest working at my own pace and stopping when I want. It’s one of the reasons I am a writer.
I can function socially and no one realises that there is a problem. I meet people’s eyes and I smile in the right places. But these aren’t because I was instinctively able to. I have taught myself. It took me six years to meet people’s eyes. At first it was painful, I just couldn’t. Then it became something that I would be told to do. I had a friend who for two years would remind me.
“Look at me.”
And I would.
But it was an uphill struggle. Now I don’t think. I just do. I still don’t know if I have upset people, or if they find me attractive. I just can’t interpret the signals. And as long as I’m not stressed it doesn’t show. I am as normal as the person next to me – honest.
When I am stressed I can’t look at people, I mumble and trip over words. The worst case is that I trance out. I appear to be listening but I’m not there. I once went away for a whole hour. It is as if the hour never existed. I’m not daydreaming or thinking of anything else. I am just not there.
Then I need silence. I need to withdraw and go to my own place and just exist. Now I have a place – I write in it and the workshop is an integral part of my day. Without it I would be a different person. So for me silence, my silence, is golden. It keeps me sane.
This is written as a result of the daily prompt – A source of anxiety.
I have been missing lately and it is all down to Santa. You see, I am one of the committee that runs Tregaron Christmas Fair and this year it was an intense couple of days.
This year was different though. Normally I would have a soft toy stall, but with the business closing I decided not to. Honestly, I don’t think I could have handled the extra work.
At the end of last year I picked up the costumes and took them back. They were in my care for twenty-four hours and cost a lot… So, I thought – I’ll make them next year.
This year Santa’s story started with a long length of red fabric. I thought about it before I made the suit though. After all, what I was creating was a story. I wanted Santa and his elves to create magic and tell a tale of Christmas. I was about half way through when I realised that I was sewing a story.
I was trying to create an illusion that made children believe in Santa. They had to think that this man was Santa and that the elves were really elves. So I create a character…
And it worked!
I hadn’t thought it was until I had a conversation with a five-year old…
Me: You going to see Santa?
Child: Yes…. Is he here?
Me: He is.
At this point the child’s eyes got huge and he started to jump from foot to foot.
Me: Did you hear that?
Me: It’s those reindeer again…. They are making too much noise on the roof.
Me: Oh, yes. He parked them on the roof and they keep stamping about. Can’t you hear the bells?
Child: No… Is that an elf?
He pointed at one of the elves. This one was in dark green with a red fur trim on her hat and tunic.
Me: It is.
Child: Why is it big?
Me: What do you mean?
Child: Elves are small and she is big.
Me: She is. But she has to be. Otherwise the larger presents would squash her. You see they are only small when they make the toys. So they can do all the intricate painting, on the face and stuff. But in our world they are big so they can help Santa.
The child had gaped at me and then the elf had called him through. He hesitated a moment and then mum and son moved forward. And she looked at me and at the elf and smiled.
In that moment I believed my own tale. Santa was real and he was here. The child truly believed and after seeing him the kid came down the stairs clutching the present. I know he had thought every word I’d said was true. There was no doubt. Santa was here.
I am a story-teller. That child showed me that even a few ideas spoken can tell a profound story. It just depends on the audience.
A few years ago my Nan and I were shopping in our local supermarket. Now, when I say supermarket I mean medium to small shop. Living in rural Wales means that what I consider huge and full of choice would have someone from London twitching and wondering how they would cope.
Anyway, we were in the store, and Nan was fetching bits to put in the trolley. I got sidetracked with the sweet isle. Chocolate is the bane of my life… It wasn’t until I realised that she had been gone a while that I ought to go look for her. Doing a sharp turn I trundle the trolley after her, why is it I always get the one with the wobbly wheel?
I struggle to get the cart around the corner and there is Nan. She is standing glaring at a pair of shoppers and they in turn appear to be glaring back at her.
“Nan,” I called, “what are you doing?”
Nan’s eyes darted to me and then fixated back on the couple. “They are staring,” she sneered.
The couple took no notice but continued to stare at my Nan and then talk in Welsh. I am by no means fluent but I do understand more than I appear to.
“They are talking about us,” Nan said in a stage whisper.
“Uh?” I said as I listened to the conversation.
“Nasty Welsh… Always talking about us behind our backs,” she said with a derogatory sniff.
“They are talking about us,” Nan said stridently.
“No, they aren’t,” I said, moving away.
“Yes… What?” Nan sai, stopping me.
“They aren’t talking about you or me. And I consider myself Welsh,” I said.
“Why were they staring?” Nan said and I could see that this was becoming a matter of wills. Nan is a big fan of ‘mind your elders’ and I am a big fan of ‘no chance, especially if they are wrong’.
I nodded in the direction we had come from. “You were stood in front of that.” It was a huge display of red oriental rugs. One of which was pinned to the ceiling and hung down. It was this that Nan had been stood in front of.
Nan blinked at the rug. “That’s nice,” she said. Then she narrowed her eyes at me. “What were they talking about?”
“Well, the lady wanted to get the red, but he was saying that the rug was too big and would fade fastest in the sunlight. He wanted the blue and one size smaller.”
I just smiled.
This is a short story based on the daily prompt – Hear No Evil
I have two tattoos. One on my arm and the other on my leg. One is on my right side and the other is on the left. I feel… balanced.
But the other day I was writing about a character, a particularly sexy man and I finished the story but something was missing. What made this man stand out?
I had written him as a straight white man. Well-made but not special. Except he had to be special…
Oddly, I had come across the same in a child’s story. The character goes through a journey and in the process discovers who he really is. He needed to change physically as well as mentally so I decided on tattoos.
Both the man and the boy got them. In the man’s case it was a tribal tattoo running down his back. Something I find sexy, so why not put it on my character? And the boy?
Well, I did this:
The moon hits its point directly above the house and bathes the garden in a pale blue light. I reach out my hand, already knowing what I’ll see. I remember the bite of the rose and the sting of the pain as the plant drank from me. In that moment I was changed. I am not the boy that crawled through the broken door of the hall. I am different.
I push up the sleeve of my pyjama top and there, twisting around my arm, is the most exquisite tattoo. Spiraled around me are the rose and thorns of the labyrinth. I can only see it in the moonlight, but this is the first full moon since Dad came home and tonight it glows, standing out from my skin as if I have a light within me. It calls me. Turning from the window I dress quickly.
The boy has a tattoo that is only visible in the moonlight. He is different, but unless you look at him differently he is the same as anyone else.
Tattoos for me, personally, are important. They have signified that I like myself, all of me. And for my characters they make them something different. They stand out. But the tattoos are an extension of their character – an added extra, rather than a defining element.
This blog is my musings from the daily prompt - Tattoo-You?
I am a Nanowrimo loser… But I am not worried as I have the beginning of the book fleshed out and the story is straight in my head. To all those that have managed – Congratulations!
And to those that haven’t – don’t worry! You are further than you would have been if you hadn’t taken part. Me included. So smile and be happy at your achievement. I know I am one step closer to having a finished book, so you must be too!
But it is still scary. I am working on a picture book about the moon, but do you know how much I’ve completed…
My page is blank.
I’ve written it but the illustrations have stalled. I sit down to do it and… I freeze. I am going to have to get past this. I have to. Mainly because I really want to be able to illustrate my own work.
The trouble is that I haven’t picked up a paint-brush in five years. I’ve done the odd pet portrait but that has been about it. Now, suddenly I’m trying to throw myself back into illustration as if I had never stopped. Maybe I ought to start small first. Perhaps I shall just draw some concept sketches of the characters and then see how it develops.
I hadn’t realised this would be so hard…