Who’s afraid of literary miserylit?

I am. Or at least, I used to be. Let me explain.

I used to spend a lot of time feeling DEPRESSED. I thought it was that cyclothymia again. But then I made the connection between the low part of the cycle and looking at writing websites. In particular, at competition winning entries. I’d read them and feel sad, discouraged, like I should give up because I could never write like that.

Then I rallied a bit and thought “they’re all up themselves, I don’t want to write like that”. Then I realised that the depression induced by said literary mis-lit wasn’t down to the fact that it made me feel I couldn’t write. I looked again and came to the conclusion that, if you want to win most of these things, especially the prestigious ones, you must write about someone dying/suffering with something progressive and incurable, disadvantaged/oppressed, sad and lonely or preferably all of them. Literary, because there’s no doubt it’s well written. But it makes BLOODY DEPRESSING READING.

My problem – I don’t want to write about that sort of thing, there’s enough of it surrounding us in real life.

I never had the chance to ask my mother about her writing, how it felt, what inspired her. How she dealt with the knock-backs. And it’s 42 years too late. Although my memories of her are a teenager’s, I don’t think she was precious about writing. And I think she might have said “If you can’t beat them join them”.

So I will delete the jolly little story I was writing, about a single mother who gets a job and meets lots of new friends, and start another one:

“Daisy looked out of the window, tracing the raindrops’ trails with her finger. Soon there were too many to follow, except with the tracks of her tears…” I think the rain will make the roof fall in and then I can get in a bit about homelessness.

Hold on, though – that’s been done. What else could I use? Dementia seems to be very popular at the moment, too much competition in the competitions. Same goes for poverty, oppression, cancer (terminal for preference). And a friend has suggested the roof fall on Daisy but that she makes a miraculous recovery – only she’s really dead. Da capo.

There is one rich seam that, so far, seems to be untapped and from which there is an unlimited supply of material. Stories about women in their late fifties who have trouble staying awake? Any takers?

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