Every now and then I get these revelations about how my parents are probably smarter than I ever gave them credit for. I was reading a short story and it occurred to me that they were lucky I never got hold of a set of screwdrivers as a child. The house would have been destroyed. This may seem like a peculiar train of thought but there was some logic to it.
This particular short story left me feeling somewhat bewildered. It was almost like an excerpt from a longer book. There didn’t seem to actually be any point or plot to it, the characters weren’t filled out, there was barely any description…it just seemed to be a series of dislocated and disjointed events. I finished it wondering what the point of it was. Not the best response to a book, I’m sure.
I’ve never been able to write short stories. I try every now and then but usually by the time I get to 10,000 words I give up and just go for the novel length. The one time I actually did manage a 10,000 word novella it ate away at me for about a week until I finally caved and wrote a sequel. I don’t think it’s all about my inability to let characters go. A lot of it is that I like to know who they are, where they came from and what makes them tick. I like to know the series of events that led them to where they are because it influences where they go with the story. No journey starts in the middle. I always wrote excellent essays at school because it seemed clear to me that everything should have a beginning, a middle and an end. I’m all about the context.
This translates in my daily life to an uncanny ability to know how things work. I use it in my work and in my hobbies. People find it weird that I can look at the most complex pieces of jewellery and, with seemingly little effort, figure out how they’re made. I’m the kind of person that is driven to understand things. I’ve lost whole days of my life to the internet looking up how stuff happens and what causes it, sometimes down to the molecular and atomic structure.
As I type I have a large bag of watch parts sat next to me on the sofa for making steampunk jewellery with and I’m almost mesmerised by them. I keep picking it up to look at all the amazing miniature cogs and springs. Some of the hands are so tiny they’re finer than eyelashes. I haven’t started making Gollum noises yet but I suspect it’s not far off.
Hence the screwdrivers. Had my parents let me anywhere near a tool box, God only knows what I would have taken apart just to see how it works. Nothing would have been safe. And that is how you get from a short story to the realisation that my parents are wiser than I thought…