I am old.
Well, I’m older today than I was yesterday because today it is my birthday. Yay me.
I like to pretend I don’t like people knowing about my birthday but the truth is that I’ve been telling anyone who’ll listen for around a month now (maybe possibly longer…) Strangers in the pub, check. People at work, check check check. Woman on the tills at the supermarket… check. My kids, pretty much every day for the last six weeks.
Then I realised that this actually goes deeper than having a birthday. This goes to the depths of who I am, really. I don’t WANT any attention. Never have, but I CRAVE attention! I want people to WANT to pay me attention though, which is different to making people pay me attention. Nothing gets me going more than someone being unexpectantly thoughtful about me. I need that validation, that love, that moment where something exciting happens because someone made an effort to go above and beyond.
I recently did a talk in front of a room of students. Not a long talk – twenty minutes or so. It was scary but not as scary as I thought it would be and damn it, I kinda liked being out there and having all the attention in the room. I liked the control and the fact that I could be anything to these people and still they would be forced to listen to me…
OK, maybe a bit weird but it’s also how I feel about writing and is becoming increasingly how I see other writers too. We all want to live in these worlds we make in our heads, away from the real world outside. We want to be able to take other people there, change their lives. Some of us want fame and fortune, others want their own definition of success. We want the attention that comes with being a bestseller or changing a life, but we don’t want the lights or the cameras or the action. We don’t want to sell ourselves and we’re so painfully self-conscious when it comes to advertising that it’s well… it’s just painful.
We’re awkward in every definition of the word but we come alive when we’re adored.
We are human.
And yes, I’m navel-gazing. I’m allowed, it’s my birthday.