I found a friend from secondary school on Facebook the other day. For two years, we had been two of an inseparable foursome, but I hadn’t met her since I moved out of that school a couple of months short of my 13th birthday.
The first couple of messages were the usual, “are you so and so?” and “I never thought I would ever get in touch with you” ones. They were filled with anticipation- we had lived most of our lives without the other, and only the next few days would tell us if we had drifted so far apart we had nothing in common except a shared past, or if we had each grown in different ways but ended up becoming soul buddies.
Her profile told me was that she was single (was she divorced or separated, or never married, or just living out a fantasy on her facebook profile – I knew people who fit into all three catagories), that she worked for a prestigious school (could be in any capacity from curriculum developer, to teacher to administrator), and that she still called home the city we had grown up in. It did not tell me who she was and whether we could grow to be friends.
Gradually, she started telling me about herself. She was single by choice. Was working as a nursery school teacher. And “in the days before the recession in the art world, was a painter”. In the two yeas that I had known her, she had never displayed much talent in the arts, so I was surprised at her initial career choice. But even more, I was stunned by her statement that she had been a painter when the markets were booming- didn’t that imply that she had stopped paining after the market tanked?
How could she? I know writers who write because they cannot bear the thought of not writing, and dancers who dance because they are not happy unless they do. I had always presumed painters were the same- that they painted because their paintings haunted them till put down on canvas. I never thought it was possible for creativity to be available on tap- to be turned on when there was a market for your creations and turned off otherwise.
I know I am never going to make money out of writing, but I write because the characters in my head just refuse to go away unless I do. I know many of you have made want to make writing a career, but did you start writing because you wanted to sell books, or because you wanted to write books that would be read?
Maybe I was doing her a disservice, but I did not reply to that message. Somehow, I did not think I had much in common with her.
And speaking of writers who write because their stories will not leave them alone till they are put down on paper, Clarissa Draper has put her first mystery on line.
It's a 90,000 word mystery with ciphers to crack. So far, no one she knows has cracked the cipher without reading the novel all the way through. She is even willing to drop hints if someone wants to attempt the cipher, and if someone does crack it before the character in the book, she will consider giving the person a prize.
Five chapters are up already, and they are fantastic. Do yourself a service and click across to see for yourself. The book is complete, and she'll be posting a chapter or two every week.