Every so often, I contemplate a completely different career path. I often fantasise about becoming a florist - just spending my days arranging pretty bouquets. No intellectual over-analysis, no emotionally-wrought interpersonal engagements, just pretty flowers getting bundled together with other pretty flowers. A few years ago, I went to NY to do a writing course. I thought this also might be a fun change of career. While I did really enjoy it, the sum total of my achievements was two articles, neither of which ever went anywhere. This was when I realised I probably don't have the commitment, inspiration or, let's be realistic, the skill, to be a writer.
One article was an opinion piece questioning why, in the 21st century, women are still taking their husband's name. Perhaps "subjugation" is too harsh a word but every time a friend of mine gets married and changes her name, a little piece of me dies. All these talented and accomplished women jettisoning their identities in favour making their man the defining achievement is upsetting: these women are so much more than just wives.
The other piece is one which I still love and hope may one day tick the Publish-a-Piece-of-Writing-Somewhere-with-Cred box on my bucket list. That place may end up being this blog but I'm still holding out for Vanity Fair. It is about an ex-boyfriend. Rather, it's about my ex-boyfriend's blog and the relationship I developed with it when he was no longer around. I read his blog compulsively. It was my own private soap opera in which I hoped I would one day make a cameo appearance. Not necessarily a recurring role, just something brief but impactful. Like when James Franco guest starred on General Hospital. The upshot of the piece that eventually I decided both he and his blog had jumped the shark and I should probably get on with making my own story rather than waiting around for a cameo in somebody else's.
So imagine my delight today when I read this article:
Laurie Penny has totally nailed the point I was grappling towards in both pieces but has said it so much better (which is possibly why she is writing for the New Statesman and I am editing a film in Cambodia. We're each where we're meant to be.)
Unlike Penny, I doubt I was ever anybody's Manic Pixie Dream Girl (fitting only the fourth descriptor in the phrase plus these characters drive me nuts in films) but I firmly believe in her central premise: "Men grow up expecting to be the hero of their own story. Women grow up expecting to be the supporting actress in someone else's."
I am glad for both of us that we realised our own stories are worth pursuing.