I need a man. Well, several actually. It’s not what you think, although sex every now and again would be nice if I could remember what to do. No, I need a man because I’m running out of males to draw upon for characters in my novels. Not that I take someone and immortalize them in print; I like to take traits, gestures, habits, speech etc and shape them into a character and I’ve used up all the ones I’m familiar with.
I started my first novel 12 years ago and had a bank of male friends and work colleagues to draw upon. My second novel, started 4 years ago was set in Nepal at the time I was working there for VSO so I had a lot of characters from work and the community to draw upon. This new novel is set in Scotland today and I’ve realized as I try to create my characters that since moving to Scotland 10 years ago I’ve met very few men. And if you take away the alcoholics and drug users I used to work with, the number is even less. I’m experiencing a retirement in splendid isolation when it comes to males. The clubs and groups I joined are predominantly female and of those who are married or in relationships I’ve never met their men apart from casual introductions. So why is this now a problem?
I suppose it’s because my interactions and understandings are going stale; I’m lacking contact with flesh and blood and don’t really know what to do about it. I can hardly ask friends if I can ‘borrow’ their blokes, or ask the workmen who do various jobs for me what their emotional weaknesses are. Most of the guys I used to know, apart from the gay ones, took a long time before they opened up and discussed their feelings and I if don’t have the contact, I can hardly have the time to cultivate relationships.
I guess I’ll just have to live a virtual life through books and the internet.