I’m in Lanzarote - not travelling, for a change, but just dossing about having a holiday. The sun is lovely and warm, the beer is lovely and cold - so all is well. (Apart from the Brexit shambles, of course.)
Except for one, very minor, event - and the stories I have told myself about it.
When I came to get ready for bed last night, I couldn’t find my nightdress. In an attempt make sense of its disappearance I concocted several stories:
- I must have put it somewhere stupid. So I checked the bathroom, all drawers and cupboards. The fridge. No nightdress.
- The cleaner must have put it somewhere stupid - the bathroom, all drawers etc. No nightdress.
- The cleaner had stolen it! Why do such a thing? It’s a ratty old nightdress! I’ve has shampoo and toothpaste stolen before, but never clothing. How dare she ...
- Then, in the middle of the night, it occurred to me that it might have been swept up with the laundry ... how could I have thought ill of my lovely cleaner, she would never have done anything as ridiculous as stealing a nightdress ...
So I selected story no. 4 - that’s the story that made me feel most comfortable.
Oh the stories we tell ourselves, especially when faced with a situation that, at first glance, makes no obvious sense. We need explanations - ‘not knowing’ is deeply uncomfortable. But it’s also, oddly, exciting - it drives us to learn, to find solutions. And sometimes those solutions don’t fit the facts - because that drive for resolution is so strong.
And surely that human drive to find stories that make sense of the world is a great gift to us as writers - we present our readers with predicaments and then stretch out the solution to keep them turning the pages. We can lead them down side alleys, drop bits of jigsaw knowing that our readers are driven to find their own solutions ... and then, wham, we provide another clue and off they head at another tangent. Readers need stories as much as we need to write them.
None of which brings my nightdress back. But I’m very happy believing it’s lost in the laundry.
You can read more of my stories at jocarroll.co.uk