Why I write: (1) the lives of others

I remember the first time I saw Boy George perform on Top of the Pops and the debate on gender identity and sexuality it generated in 1980s Britain.

I remember the first time I went to London in the 1990s and saw a face of colour on the Tube. I had never seen one in person before.

I remember the first time I saw a dead body. Millennium day. On the street. Grey. Glass eyes staring.

For as long as I can remember, other people’s lives have fascinated me.

As life has progressed, any unfettered assumption I once held that everyone is as curious as I am about you has been completely blown out of the water.

A closet introvert, my natural state at a party would be the wallflower, although those who know me would probably be surprised at this admission.

Despite appearances, I much prefer to watch, listen and write than to talk or follow a tribe.

I guess all those years spent being ashamed and angry at myself around my shyness and anxiety has made me a pretty good actress.

I’m usually distant from your here and now, although hopefully it isn’t too obvious. I would hate it if it were.

I have discussed small observations that I find interesting about others with friends over the years and on occasion these conversations have been misunderstood as “bitching,” “being two faced,” “over-sensitivity,” and having way too much time on my hands.

I’m no saint, but most of the time my fascination at how other people are; why they do what they do; and how brass necked they can be, has manifested in excessively animated and in-depth analysis on my part after a few (arguably too many) glasses of wine.

Fuelled by passion, later filled with regret and fear.

The kind of thing the phrase “intense” was made for.

Now that I know that not everybody is an amateur social anthropologist, I only confide in the most like minded of my fellow bitches. Or write it down.

Here or elsewhere.

I’m afraid of being thought of as being creepy. Perhaps, I’m a little too interested.

I guess that I don’t really judge how I feel about a character on face value. That’s called being human. The more outlandish and ill-considered you are the better. The down right evil – the best. Your bad behaviour brings out the best in the creative me.

And sometimes, just sometimes, the worst people turn out to be the best.

I tend to use my own short-comings and missed opportunities as a benchmark and see how others compare in approach.

Too often, I’m troubled.

Then I rest easy knowing it could be a whole lot worse.

I’d say I’m pretty middle of the road on all fronts.

Sometimes I get frustrated that I’m not as brave as I could be.

Comparatively, that is (of course).

I’m mostly bored. There’s always room for improvement.

In the first book group I ever joined, one of the members confided in me that she had to work hard at enjoying reading because she had no imagination whatsoever. I couldn’t believe this, and challenged her on what I hoped was just a throw-away comment.

She challenged me back.

So, it turns out that some very cultured and literate people can’t visualise a world written in black and white.

I often wonder how common this is. I find a this pretty bleak thought.

But could anybody write well if they wanted to?

If they had a thousand hours of drive to think, analyse, write, edit, repeat?

I love to watch. I love to write. I love to read. I love to challenge. To shout without making a sound. I always have.

But I don’t think this guarantees being any good at it. Or getting results.

I’m in awe of many of you and your blogs, books, imagination, confidence.


I want what you have one day.

This is why I write.

Writing Bubble

15 thoughts on “Why I write: (1) the lives of others”

  1. You write very well and that’s not a throw away compliment. I’m also surprised when people say they can’t write when it seems sometimes easier to visualize than vocalize one’s thoughts. Would have never imagined you to be a wallflower but then there is a certain solitude to writing. I’m glad you do. πŸ™‚


  2. I can certainly identify with your interest. Ice always had a vivid imagination, been a keen reader and been creative (with art and writing) so I suspect that’s why I idly wonder about the stories of strangers. It’s a mix of social anthropology, psychology and observational skills but it’s mostly that I’m very imaginative and it’s definitely that I have a brain that can’t cope with being inert. At any time when I’m stuck in a context I find intellectually boring – a theme park queue, on the beach, at a conference – my eyes start to flit around and I start to imagine people’s lives. It’s a creative writing or artistic exercise in my head. It doesn’t really involve judgement or assumptions because I am always aware I am just making it up. It’s in no way that person’s reality. If other people think that’s bitchy then so be it. I can’t and won’t apologize for having a vivid imagination and nor should you.


    1. Hi Laura, I do that too. Invent lives. I can distinctly remember that first trip to London from Aberdeen and being amazed at the sheer volume and variety of people I saw on the Tube from the airport into central London. It was a different world. The: who are they, where have they been, where are they going can keep me going forever! I wish it were as easy to write it down as to imagine. But am thankful imagination is second nature to me as opposed to the lady I mentioned in the post. Without a vivid imagination, writing would be simply impossible. It seems strange to me that not everyone imagines and questions stuff constantly. Thanks for your thoughts & support x

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I’m with you on finding people fascinating. I am forever imagining their inner worlds – and very rarely find anyone I can discuss them with without coming across as a complete loony! I’m sure it must be a writer thing… x

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I’m a people watcher too. Often when out and about I’ll get distracted mid-conversation by someone doing something interesting. On the (all too rare) occasions I go out for meals with my husband I find myself captivated by the goings on at nearby tables – my brain just starts making up what might be going on and my husband gets all “What are you looking at? Oh, you’re doing that thing again… ” Poor him, eh? I do give him my attention sometimes, honest! I day dream far too much too and analyse people all the time – it makes life so much more interesting though. I think we’re lucky. Thanks for linking to #WhatImWriting

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Gosh, not being able to visualise the world you’re reading about. I would be lost without that. I people watch too, it drives my husband nuts as he thinks I’m just being overly nosy, but other people fascinate me. Their thoughts, their motivations. Maybe it is a writer thing πŸ™‚ Lovely to find you on #whatimwriting

    Liked by 1 person

  6. It’s good to be an observer. I reckon a lot of writers are. I see my middle daughter expressing a lot of empathy and realise that she is very like me. We can both sense other people’s feelings way before anyone else seems to notice.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. This was a really enjoyable read and sums up so many reasons for the creativity that writing can bring. My other half writes screen plays and I am sure that he views the world like this πŸ™‚


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