Sunday 6 November 2005

You shake as you think of how they sleep...

I am becoming obsessed with word-counts. Almost every waking moment seems to be taken up with either writing or thinking about writing my nanowrimo novel. I wish I could say that this was because I am working through the finer plot details in my head, but I mainly seem to be working out how many words I need to crank out on any given day.

I started out needing to write something like 1,700 words a day. At the end of day 6, I am now up to 12,519 - so probably about a day ahead of schedule.

I'm even starting to dream about the bloody thing.

I think it's probably dull and very self-indulgent, but what it actually turns out like isn't really as important to me at the moment as the fact that this whole project will have got me writing. When I'm done, if I think that there is a single idea, or even a single sentence worth keeping amongst the 50,000 words, then it will have been well worthwhile.

Do you want an extract?

Can you remember the first time that you were dumped? The first time that someone decided to cut their relationship with you short; to tell you that you aren’t wanted and to sever all ties and to walk off into the distance? I think it is supposed to happen to you when you are a kid. Perhaps it happened to you when you were ten and it was your first girlfriend. Perhaps you thought you’d never recover from the pain and shame of it all, but before the end of the week you were snogging Melanie Johnson in the bus-stop as though nothing had happened. Does that count? Perhaps it doesn’t, and you haven’t really experienced a dumping until you are ditched by your first serious girlfriend, where your relationship has gone a little further than those first kisses. Maybe even that doesn’t count as a proper dumping; maybe you can only consider yourself to have been truly ditched when someone you love unconditionally casts you aside and leaves you gaping like a fish and wailing at the injustice of it all.

In this world, you are either a dumper or dumped. It’s a dog-eat-dog world and the only way to protect yourself is to get them before they get you.

I can’t say that I agree with that point of view, although on the bare statistics of my life might lead you to think that I do: of the three serious girlfriends I have had, I dumped two of them. The first was easy. We’d been going out for about three months when we both graduated from University. She lived in one part of the country and I lived in another. There didn’t seem to be any point pretending that this could turn out to be the great love affair of my life, so I told her that it was over. I don’t flatter myself that she was especially surprised or upset by this news, but as I basically told her on the last night of term, I didn’t really get to see close up if this was the case. The second time was harder, and it took me a full year to pluck up the courage to do it. The relationship had lasted for three years and we were living together. The news came as a brutal shock, and I felt like a total shit. I still do. I had been thinking about it for months, but for her it was news totally out of the blue. To make matters worse, we continued to live together for another month before I was able to move out. Throughout the whole sorry business, I was sustained by one thing: the sure and certain knowledge that I was doing the right thing for both of us in the long run. Apart from a couple of brief visits in the first few months after the break-up, I haven’t seen her since. My parents still exchange Christmas Cards with her.

Are there guidelines for dumping someone? Is there a resource that outlines what is, and what is not, acceptable behaviour? Should you give someone notice? I, the undersigned, hereby notify you that I wish to terminate our relationship in one month’s time. That kind of thing. Would making the whole process more businesslike make it any less painful or difficult? Would there be the right of appeal? Relationship tribunals? Claims for unfair or constructive dismissal?

Can you dump someone nicely, or is it such a fundamentally distasteful task for everyone concerned that you are better off just spitting it out and being done with it? You could be about to shatter someone else’s world, does it make any difference how you do it? It’s not as though being nice about it ultimately softens the blow, is it? What purpose does it really serve, except perhaps to make you feel a little better about yourself, to maintain that illusion you have of yourself as being a decent person. It was a tough job, but you did it as nicely as you could to spare her feelings. Bully for you.
Yeah. I know.

And so to bed, perchance to dream of something else.

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