I get a lot of love from people when I tell them the subject of my degree; they are all curiosity and questions. Yet no-one gives me more love than my course mates.
These days I find myself part of a small group of creative writing students, something akin to a non-murderous (I don’t think), more diverse version of the gang from The Secret History. Except instead of Greek we learn writing craft, and when we should probably be dissecting obscure and difficult literary fiction, we are instead Whatsapping one another highly inappropriate things.
Is it because we’re “artists” that we can be so inventively insulting all the time? We rib one another endlessly, but there is real love and affection buried deep (deep) beneath our constant caustic, sarcastic digs. Remember we’re all writers, so we wield our words with a heavy hand and to outsiders probably sound like utter nutjobs. So who are these characters that are suddenly drunkenly dashing giant splotches of crazy colour and innuendo onto the canvas of my life?
First up, there’s the universe-hating, drily sardonic “Josh”, whose blue eyes stare expressionlessly out of a pallid visage. He claims to enjoy writing at an old wooden desk with a bottle of Kraken rum, like a pretentious tosser. He’s American, and everyone holds that against him, as does he himself. He is the willing object of abounding affection and abuse from myself and…
“Nadine”. She would be pretty hot if she could wipe the French disdain off her face, and didn’t make cutting comments all the time, which always make me die a little inside, though I maintain a tough exterior. She professes to be incapable of human emotion, but she has a special place in my heart as a fellow raging feminist and woman of colour. She once performed in the Vagina Monologues and shares my love for Europe.
Then there’s “Jesús”, a melancholic soul, whom we all try unsuccessfully to cheer up with our ill-timed and tasteless jokes. A successful animator in his past life, he is a little awkward and always sad, but we love him for his sincerity, his teddy bear-like demeanour and his continued dating efforts.
Finally, “Thaís”, the quiet Brazilian beauty. She looks all bland innocence, like butter wouldn’t melt in her mouth, but at unexpected intervals drops remarks in her sweet, tiny voice that cause all our mouths to drop open in shock, or that make us fall about with laughter. As Josh said, “I think she is the one person in the group who could actually hurt my feelings with something she says”.
Then there’s me. I’ll leave it up to my literary peers to describe me in an equally mordant and hurtful manner. I’m sure I’ll get a volley of abuse once they all read this, but hey, guys – the truth hurts. I love them all really. And they are going to make me pay for this.