OTWAG: Am (Not) Writing

“Once there was a girl…”

And that girl, somehow, was always nothing like me. I mean, when was the last time you read a fairy tale where the girl was like anyone real? Half the time – more than half the time – they’re blonde. Do you know what percentage of the female population is naturally blonde? Well, no, I don’t either, but I know it’s a minority. But you’d never believe that if Goldilocks has her way. (And even when you don’t actually know for sure they were blonde, like Cinderella or Rapunzel, they sort of end up blonde anyway; though in that cartoon film Cinderella was totes a ginger).

I remember even as a little kid thinking that only Snow White was anything like me – and she ended up with, let’s face it, a creepy necro-thingummy. I had that really dark hair and pale skin, anyway. Really pale skin. But real pale skin is nothing like porcelain, is it? It’s more pink than white, more mottled (good word!) and blotchy than silky and smooth. At least mine is. With stretch marks to boot. And while I don’t think my visage would crack a magic mirror, I can certainly imagine a caustic laugh or two (another good word, that. Must make a note…).

So I’ve been sitting here for about four hours trying to write my own fairy tale and put a girl in it who could be like me (or at least, not like the others), and it is simply not coming out. Alright, it’s been about forty minutes, and half of that was very slowly drinking a cup of tea while staring out of the window. I’d imagine that’s great inspiration to authors who live in the countryside, gazing on grazing sheep and misty, rolling hills. Or even to those who live in a flat overlooking a dark and seedy metropolis. But when your view is a suburban street where Mr. Andreou from four doors down is shuffling towards the corner shop in a pair of slippers that went out of style (if it was ever in style) in 1946… Let’s just say I’m not sure the best stories come out of watching next door’s kids wondering if anyone can see them pissing behind the recycling bins. (Yes, obviously).

I’m not even sure I wanted the cup of tea, but it seemed like a writerly thing to do, you know?

Anyway, forty minutes later, all I have to show for myself is the first line. I’ve decided not to go for “once upon a time”, because I’d really like this to be all about the girl and also there’s inspired by being old-fashioned and then just being old-fashioned and I think I’m already a bit close to the line.

I’ve written down a list of things I’d like the girl to be. Bear with me.

– Fat. Like, not just “she had ample bosoms with a tiny waist” fat, but actually some curves in the so-called bloody wrong places, thanks so much.

– Not blonde. I’m open to pretty much anything else.

– Smart. Like, not just sassy but properly nerd-smart.

– Real. Not, you know, just the ‘strong’ thing where they’re strong by literally being strong (could I say ‘strong’ some more? I can try…) but a mixture of stuff. Fallible. But brilliant. But real.

Wow. With clarity like this, it’s a total shock I don’t have a story pouring out of every orifice. Which is a lovely thought, let me tell you.

I have no problem thinking of scenes. Does anyone? I mean, I think of my life in scenes. The scene when the story is being written (montage ahoy!), and the scene when they story is finished – and for some reason, even though I know it will never, ever happen that way, I see it being printed out with a top sheet, like some kind of modern Jo March. Oh, that girl has a lot to answer for. She told so many stories some of them were rubbish. I can’t seem to help myself tell enough…. and I suspect they might all be rubbish.

But you’re supposed to push on through doubt, right? Right.

Okay, well, I’m not drinking what’s left of this tea. It’s cold, and that’s just disgusting.


Once there was a girl. A real girl. With curves in at least some of the wrong places. And a few bad habits to boot. But she was interesting and funny and nerd-smart.

And I reckon she deserves to have a story told about her. Right? Right.

This is the third attempt in a writing challenge I have set myself.