What shall I write about?

How vain it is to sit down to write when you have not stood up to live – Henry David Thoreau 

There are a lot of variations on this quote by some incredibly well known authors. I totally understand what they are trying to say and yet somehow I find it very difficult to put into action.

By nature, I’m somebody who loves to be at home. I love my kitchen and my garden. I love my computer and the mad and bad games that I’ve got on there. I love my books. I love my art. I am not naturally drawn to being out there fully submerged in the world. I’m not a natural ‘joiner’ – I think Groucho Marx had that one completely right.

By necessity I have to go out into the world to earn a living. I seem to be able to rub along well with most people and stay in touch with them long after stopping working with them; it has to be said it’s generally a written-communication type relationship. I do love to feed people and sit down with them and a nice glass of wine for hours putting the world to rights and laughing. Like I said, a home bod.

But the interesting thing is that, most of the time, I’m not at all interested in reading about this type of lifestyle. With the honourable exception of Debora Geary’s books. Not wishing at all to be offensive, I don’t like Chick Lit. It takes real skill to write it well but it gives me no pleasure to read. Which now that I’m thinking about it is actually pretty odd.

Now, give me Urban Fiction, kick ass heroines who take no shtick from anybody and often find themselves chasing down vampires, werewolves and assorted other paranormal types and I’m a happy bunny. Same with crime novels – which to be honest are often similar scenarios just with nasty human beings rather than nasty creatures.

And, without knowing I was going to go here, that also brings me to that other piece of advice about ‘writing what you know’. I’m pretty sure that nothing would ever induce me to write chick lit – I very happily live chick lit. When I’m writing and reading I want to get out of that safe, comfortable place and push my boundaries. I want to explore the parts of my psyche that aren’t about nurture. I really want to take that walk on the wild side.

Just as certainly, I do not ever, ever want to live that scenario. Well maybe sometimes I fancy the idea of the mythological pantheon stepping out of the shadows but I’m the type of person who reads historical fiction and shudders at the idea of no indoor-plumbing, so I doubt it’s a very real wish.

Which leads me to conclude that my ‘living’ is often going to be done through the writing of others. By reading the kind of books where I am just there with the characters, throwing every punch and delivering every snarky comment.

I wonder if Thoreau would count this or approve.

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