I have often thought about blogging – but never sure I ever had anything to say. The same goes for writing. I often had ideas of writing, many ideas, but never the focus or the passion for the idea in mind.
I first met/came across Jeffrey around 16 years ago. He has always had a place in my life since moving out of home and finding my independence. However it wasn’t until around 5 years ago that he started to truly come to life for me. His personality started to develop, he started to grow and he started to come to life.
Unlike other writing ideas, the thought of writing about Jeff and his adventures stayed there in my head, it’s been there for a few years now and I don’t see any signs of it leaving.
I wrote the first story in 2014, around the same time I was writing my dissertation for my Masters course – the Jeff story was the easiest 9000 words I had ever written. The reason for this was two-fold: Firstly, it wasn’t just a piece of fiction, it was, in part, based on true events. Even the fictionalised part had been in my head for enough years for it to become uncomfortable for me to even think of it as fiction. Secondly, it was the pure pleasure of writing about him. It is something I had only ever felt in short bursts when I used to enjoy cooking. I found a great sense of relaxation and peace when writing about Jeff.
As I started to share Jeff with family and friends, a common question was ‘who are you writing for?’ An easy assumption, due to the red protagonist and the initial style of artwork was that these were children’s books. If I am completely honest, the first, and possibly the second book were written for no one other than I wanted to write, I wanted to write about Jeff and I wanted to write it just as it happened.
In short, it’s not that these books can’t be read by children, they very much can, it’s just there are a few reasons why these just aren’t ‘kids books’. Jeffrey hasn’t been around many young humans, if any at all, and given how hard it is at times to reason with a child, there would probably be a culture clash due to Jeffrey’s precise logic, humour and his outlook on the world. That’s Jeff’s main reason… my main reason… I suffer from depression.
I can’t begin to explain how hard it was to just type that. The anxiety monster that currently resides in my stomach just gave me a hefty punch. Until now I have only shared this with a few loved ones and those that have needed to know. And I’m not intending to go into any further details on that as that’s not the purpose of this post and I don’t share it here as playing a sympathy card or coming out of the depression closet, I mention it to try and explain why I’m not writing for a specific audience (something I imagine the ‘how-to-write’ handbooks say is a big no-no and publishing houses hate). ‘Self-Soothing’ was a term introduced to me by my therapist and a big element of what is going on here is just that. Thinking about and writing about Jeff takes me away to a place where you can’t help but be happy and smile and is such a perfect distraction from a world that doesn’t feel too happy a place right now.
Another reason as to why I am doing this is that I don’t want children. There are various reasons for this, the main one being the realisation of the enormity of it all, the responsibility that comes with it and what it means to be a parent that I witnessed when I was 20 and my sister gave birth to her first child. And although I am fairly OK with this, it does from time to time, leave me with a little sadness that when I am no longer here, I may not be leaving anything behind. The prospect that I could be long gone, and that someone, somewhere could still pick up a book and read about Jeffrey makes me feel… I have no words for it, but it feels good.
So if I had to say who I was writing for, I’d say I am writing for you, if you have read this far. I am writing these stories that are short, and hopefully are an easy read, so that I can share Jeffrey with you. I am writing them to give you a little bit of magic when you’re on a busy commute after a heavy day at work. I’m writing them for when you go to bed, regardless of how your day has been, to give you a little smile before sleepy time. And I’m writing them for those perfect sunny days in the park when you are on your own and just want to get lost in something for a short while.
This is in its very early days and although I can steer the direction and make the choices, I’m not sure what comes next, but I can’t wait to find out. All I know is that I truly and passionately believe this has legs. Cute, short, red, stumpy legs.
Thank you if you have read this far, and Jeff says hi.