A letter to my children.
Who do you think does all the horrible shit in the world?
Serial killers, perhaps? Evil dictators? Big Pharma and Peak Oil? Small men with big hair?
Sure they do. But nobody can live the dream without help, and we’re the help. If we were as nice as we think we are, these guys wouldn’t have a chance. You really can’t have a nasty party if nobody comes.
Ok, let’s forget Big Evil and focus on Small Bad for a minute. Have you ever said something really mean to someone? I have. Have you ever promised someone you’d be there, and then, you weren’t? Have you ever looked at a person you knew you should care about – but you didn’t? Wished someone dead? Wanted to actually, personally, make it so? I have.
I just finished a book (Lily Brett’s Too Many Men, for info) where I didn’t like the heroine because she kicked a dog. If a heroine is mean, I’d rather not read about her. We probably all feel like that – we want to identify with someone who’s as nice, or nicer than, we are. But I wonder if that’s because every one of us has a part that isn’t at all nice, that we don’t like to talk about or even admit to. There are some heroines we don’t want to identify with, thanks very much.
Maybe you’re lovely through and through, and it’s just me. Or maybe, like me, you have to live with the fact that you’re not that nice – that you’re an apple with a worm or two in it. It’s a lot better than being a plateful of worms with apple sauce.
Someone I know says that we are not bad people – we’re good people who do bad things sometimes. I wonder how many bad things do you have to do before you’re a bad person? Or perhaps it’s not just the quantity but the quality that distinguishes, say, me, from your bog standard Evil Maniac.
And then, sometimes I’m good. Once, I waded into a teenage bus-stop fight to save some random kid from being beaten up. Once, I spent six months of my life making an old lady’s dream of authorship come true (kind of). I can be a hero. And I can be an arsehole.
Hey, forget I said anything. You don’t have to go round carrying a sackful of guilt on your shoulder because you once hurt your mum’s feelings. You aren’t Hitler. But you will have to live with the harm you do, one way or another. Try not to let your mud puddle become more mud than puddle.
If you’ve read this and enjoyed it, would you consider doing me a favour? I need people to review my book The Wyndham Werewolf on Amazon – and it’s proving hard as finding hens’ teeth. If you’d like to help a poor struggling author…head on over to Amazon and get yourself some karma. If not, I’ll still love you.