Posted by kirstyes
Twenty-one year old Beth is in prison. The thing she did is so bad she doesn’t deserve to ever feel good again.
But her counsellor, Erika, won’t give up on her. She asks Beth to make a list of all the good things in her life. So Beth starts to write down her story, from sharing silences with Foster Dad No. 1, to flirting in the Odeon on Orange Wednesdays, to the very first time she sniffed her baby’s head.
But at the end of her story, Beth must confront the bad thing.
What is the truth hiding behind her crime? And does anyone – even a 100% bad person – deserve a chance to be good?
All the Good Things is released on June 1st by Penguin Viking.
Guest post on self acceptance for women writers by author Clare Fisher.
I Dare You to Fail
There’s a voice.
You know the one.
It goes something like this: You’re not good enough. You’re not enough. Too much. Not enough. Not good… And repeat.
No doubt plenty of men hear this voice. But I believe it’s a particular problem for women. We grow up bombarded with messages about how we should be better, kinder, cleverer, prettier, thinner, more caring, quieter, better buyers of better brands of make-up, etc, etc. Over years and decades we absorb them until we don’t hear them anymore; we mistake them for ourselves.
I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve heard my female friends introduce a meal they’ve made, a poem they’ve written, or even just an opinion, with an ‘It’s probably no good…’ or ‘I think I did it wrong’ or even just an ‘I’m sorry.’ It pisses me off when other women do it. It pisses me off when, despite knowing how annoying it is, I do it myself. Sometimes I succeed in not doing it for a time. But then I let down my guard, and there I am, back in the same old trap.
Writing is never the most practical thing to do. It is never practical at all. There is always a shirt to be ironed, a carpet to be vacuumed, a loved one to comfort, a meal to cook or an email to write. What it is is a step into the unknown. It is terrifying. What if people hate it? What if you hate it? What if your house turns into a hovel in the meantime? The voice, if you let it win, will tell you not to bother. It will tell you to focus instead on those activities that are expected of you, and which have a certifiable gain at the end of them. It will sound a lot like the truth.
If you want to write, you must answer back. Try: fuck off. Or: tell my husband to pick up the vac.
If you want to write, write. Write even if you feel it’s no good. Write even if you feel it is maybe a bit good and then you send it off to a magazine or a competition or two or three and are slapped with an endless no. Write some more. Write because you want to. Write for you. Write through your fear and out the other side. Write until you look around, you see your imperfections, you look back to that moment when you began and it’s hazy; somehow, in all this writing and trying and wailing and failing, you’ve come home. Writing means taking what for way too many women will feel like the biggest risk of all: to be something other than perfect: to say this is who I am and what I want: to fail. But as someone who, for the longest time, believed it was a) possible and b) desirable, I will tell you now: perfect is not possible. It’s dull. No good writing will come out of it. Letting yourself be imperfect is letting yourself be vulnerable. It’s not always easy, but it is more satisfying and a LOT more fun.
If that voice is still there, take it to the tip. Banish it to the cellar. Replace it with other, kinder ones; supportive family and friends, writers whose words make you tingle, writing friends with whom you can swap work. Find a writing group or a spoken word night. Try a writing course. Keep submitting to competitions and magazines. Share your writing-related insecurities: discover — shock! horror! — that others have them, too. Recognise good criticism as a chance to become a better writer not a reason to stop.
All the Good Things is about one woman’s journey from feeling like a bad thing or ‘no thing’ to seeing that she is, despite being in prison, good. That she deserves to be a human who takes up space, makes mistakes, tries and fails. This is a process we all have to go through, particularly if you want to write. It’s hard. It’s terrifying. But it’s definitely, definitely worth it.
Huge thanks to Clare for this inspiring piece.
Do check out the other posts on the Blog Tour, and come back here tomorrow to see what I thought.