Tuesday 27 July 2010


As I write this, A is crying again. Children are strange like that. One minute their mouth is an open sob, the next their lips stretch into a smile that never materealises because the tears are falling once more.

Yesterday A's mother announced, "Bed time," and immediately, he began to wail.
"Mummy I want to finish watching this."
"Mummy please let me."

Of course she was having none of it and she swung him up from the floor. Of course, he was having none of it and he began to wail in earnest. Louder, louder and louder so she blew a fart on his tummy to make him laugh. He laughed. She ran out of breath and he cried. She inhaled and blew again, squelching air onto his skin. He laughed. She needed oxygen and he cried. And all this while she was carrying him up the stairs, a squirming bundle of laughter and tears. It was wonderful to watch.

I find it very useful to have volatile characters like A in my fiction . The kind that enter a room calm and leave livid, floating from happy to sad to angry in a paragraph, free radicals that swirl the characters around them into action, pushing, prodding, exploding the plot along. Every time I get stuck in a story, after all my funny, staid, complex characters have pushed the narrative as far as they can and are glued in a rut, I introduce a Mr. or Mrs. Volatile or I morph a character into one. Perhaps it's lazy writing but it helps me get my story where I need it to go.

As I write this, A is sitting on his father's tummy and laughing his strange, yacking laugh. He's happy, all his teeth are on display but if you look at his eyes properly, you'll see some tears still floating for the next time he needs them.

"Bed time", his mother says.
Maybe he'll be using them soon.


  1. I say we leave characters like A, as much as possible, in fiction and childhood ;). D

  2. You write so beautifully; every word is exactly where it's meant to be. I'll be getting your book the second it hits the shelves.


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