Friday, November 25, 2005


Here's a thing. I went on Google today and searched for unusual jobs. I don't want one. I have enough jobs as it is. But I wanted a character to be thinking about one and the advantage of broadband is that when I blank for a fact whilst writing, I can just keep typing as if I am writing and those kind Google men give me the answer without me ever having to break flow. So as I say, I search for jobs and there is a site with a list by type. It turns out being a writer is an unusual job. It is on the list of 'Ten jobs for people who want to keep learning'. It did not appear on the list of 'Ten jobs for people who want to pay their student loans off straight away'. For that you need to be a carpeter. Apparently.(Note these lists are for real). I ought to write something thoughtful about how interesting it is that writers are considered to be on a lifelong journey to knowledge and fulfillment but its weekend so I won't. Instead I'll tell you another thing.

My name is Helen and I am a .... well, that's the thing. I don't know the word for what I am, which is a person addicted to buying books. I am not a bibliophile because that is a person who loves books, which obviously I do but its not what I am getting at. I am getting at the fact that I buy books even when I have so many unread ones I have to spread them out over the floor because the piles were threatening to topple and kill me. Plus I am sugestible and I like to be nice to other writers. All of which is not a good combination. Take today.

The bad news was I had to drive 1 hr 40 mins to Kendal. so, In a fitof inspiration I went via the library and borrowed a CD version Marian Keyes' collection of journalism pieces 'Under the Duvet'. As I had just minutes before read a brief artcile about her in Mslexia ( on the loo wearing my coat in that pre-motorway if-I-don't-go-now-i'll-need- to-the-moment-I-get-on-the-M58 visit!) it seemed apt. So off I set being ably entertained by her Irish tones reading her own pieces. She is not an author I have ever read, havng rather snottly dimissed her as 'fluffy' but she does know how to make a crawl through roadworks pass easily.

The good news is that when I get there it takes all of fifteen minutes to convince the Magistrates to do the blindingly obvious, and after such a long journey, a spot of Christmas shopping seemed a good idea and could be easily justified by the need to avoid the DVT I'd be risking if I turned right around and drove home again. Kendal, I thought would have lots of individual shops, great for thoughtful and original gifts. This may be true. I wouldn't know because the first interesting shop on the way out of the car park is Ottakars.

And in there is a Marian Keyes Novel. I don't need it. I have a life threatening collection at home and a Christmas list of more has already been submitted to my supplier, sorry, husband. But she sounds like such a nice person and she even tells a story about seeing someone buying one of her books and how happy it made her and ...... OK. Time to admit my addiction and implement my 12 point plan.
1. Acknowledge the soverignty of your Higher Power and the fact that you need his/her assistance with your weaknesses.
2. Conclude that your Higher Power chose to communcate his own message to the world in a book and thus books cannot be equated with wraps of brown powder and thus need not be resisted.
3. Moderation however, is still a virtue.
4. Decide to read one chapter in the shop rather than purchasing it. Read three.
5. Avoidance of temptation is a useful strategy.
6. Put book back and go to look for other shops bearing in mind you only paid one hour of pay and display.
7. Exercise increases self-esteem and effects the release of endorphins so often found in addictive susbtances
8. Power walk to WHSmiths and read another two chapters.
9. Failure is human. Divert your attention from your own sorrows and consider those who are worse off than you.
10. Go to both Oxfam and British Red Cross shop and search for second hand copy of Marian Keyes books. Conclude that their absence means they are so good no-one will part with them.
11. If your addiction is so serious you are at risk of committing crime to feed it, seek help.
12. Hear the town clock strike half past the hour and realise you are now in at-risk-of-parking ticket-zone. Attempt abstinence. Get to car park door and jog back to Ottakars and confess (in now slightly wheezing tones) addiction. Accept £1 off cover price.
OK, so the plan needs work. But I got 648 pages for £5.99 which is 0.09pence per page which means i can afford the BUPA subscription for when the to-read pile fractures my scull. And I can learn how to write chick lit. And after all, learning is what being a writer is all about.

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