I’ve been unfaithful.
This may not seem the place, but it feels like the time. And so it’s out, finally; my confession, my little shame.
Guilt lies heavily upon me, it always has. Guilt drapes its seductive embrace around me and clouds my conscience. She (for it surely is a she) pulls me determinedly from my intentions, and thrusts me forwards, down the slippery slope of scant resistance. I hesitate, consider, purge my weakness, hold steadfast. But acquiescence brings both relief and pain, in equal measure; and so I step forward, into the inevitability of my actions and thoughts.
Her name was Flora, and Simonetta, and Agnese too. And now Rosamund waits, demanding my time, promising….ever promising.
Flora seduced me, totally, shamelessly, and thrillingly. I loved her for a moment, a summer I suppose. Ours was a clandestine oneness, a body within a body sense of singularity, of cohesion; one mind, a shared delight in life. I dressed her, I sowed her thoughts, I steered her passions and her fears. She came to me in times of strength and uncertainty. She shared her vulnerability, her secret; and then she left me. Flora was cruel also. Without her I felt a loss so tangible I mourned her. Her loss was my loss uniquely, though others hurt too. And so I moved on.
There were two this time; Simonetta and Agnese. On Simonetta I lavished riches and grace, nurtured her sensuality, strengthened her resolve. To her I gave books and pictures, tuned her mind to learning and beauty. I was there for her when her hand held out to me, though she seldom sensed it I fear. She taught me much about the complexities of human passion, of the iniquities of greed and despair, not least of the enduring human spirit. But she turned to another, Agnese, and she too I loved, though strangely. I loved her strength of purpose, and her frailty too. Hers was a uniquely human condition, a soul of contradictions; resolute and loyal, determined yet fragile. I stood by her through all, yet deserted her when she needed me most. Forgive me girl. Mea culpa.
And now Rosamund sits alone, and waits for me to guide her; though we both know it’s she that steers my thoughts.
Like many unfaithful before me, I claim weakness as my own. In my imperfection, my pitifully frail resolve, I take no responsibility for my actions, but lay just and right cause at the doors of those that seduce me. For seduce me they did, these women.
I started to write Stone Ties wholly from a man’s perspective; it was always my intention. The very first words that came to me, that strangely disembodied phrase “He pressed his face against it”, spoke uniquely of a man’s experience, and so I set out to reveal it. But Flora walked into his world and mine, and shook both of us. She became the heart, the energy, the beguiling spirit of the tale. Flora wrote herself onto the page; she merely bid me follow.
The Lanese Print was different. Simonetta and Agnese were always to be at the heart of the action. It was after all their story, their experience. I simply had to look over their shoulders and write down what I saw; although in truth it was their hands that guided the pen.
I find it intriguing that my imagination should be drawn constantly to the complexities and curiosities of the woman’s experience in my books. My women (apologies for the possessive, but as author I make some claim); these women come to my world part-formed. I give them what I can along the way, but they demand much of me. Their self-determination draws me forward. I crave their strength, without which these stories would be impoverished. And my reward? These tales, above all else, are their seductive gifts to me.
I never could resist seduction. And so I hold out my arms, and wait for the next embrace.
I am unfaithful. I am fickle. I am weak.
I am a writer.