My writing workshop tutor keeps calling me Francesca. I take this as a compliment, even though Francesca is a dark, deluded, dangerous woman. Francesca is also the main character of my novel.
I’m a nice person. I have friends. I guard their secrets. I offer support and encouragement and empathy. I eat muffins. So why does my tutor confuse me with Francesca? Does she perhaps sense something of Francesca’s darkness in me?
The other day I took my dog to the vet to be spayed (Francesca does have a dog, but that’s not the point). Lips quivered and eyes watered when I told everyone about it. I found this hard to fathom. Okay, so she was about to be sliced open and emptied of her womanly jewels, but as far as I was concerned this would result in a nice docile creature for a few days instead of a jumping lunatic, and no obligatory two-hour daily walks. In other words, lots more writing time.
I did feel a pang of love and sympathy when I handed her over, trembling, to the nurse. But then I went home and got lost in my writing (aka tweeting).
What, then, was my first thought when the vet rang to say he couldn’t operate because he’d detected a heart murmur? Did I say to myself, oh my poor baby has a dickey heart; I’m so glad they didn’t go ahead and operate? Well, that thought did come, in time. But my first thought was, the thoughtless hound; now I’ve got to close down Twitter, drive back and collect her, book an appointment for a heart scan AND take her on a two-hour walk.
Perhaps I shouldn’t feel guilty about this. She is, after all, just a dog. But what if she were a person? What if she were my friend, my partner, my mother, or my child?
Through Francesca I can pursue such thoughts to their extreme. The similarity between us is that we both have them. The difference is that she honestly doesn’t see that they’re a problem.