Have you ever noticed that the people who tell you “I’m not the type of person who…” are guaranteed to be the type of person who, precisely that?
And, the people who tell you, at every turn, “No drama, please!” and criticize friends, lovers, and strangers for bringing drama into their lives—they aren’t just drama magnets, but drama creators?
But maybe not…
Let me be honest and contradictory: me, I like drama. I prefer Macbeth and Hamlet to As You Like It and Love’s Labour Lost. I’d rather watch murder mysteries than sit-coms. And I like life to be… well, interesting. If you bore me, I won’t hang out with you—or work for you—but neither will I create drama in our dynamic to spice things up.
I’ll just move on.
Drama creation is on my mind these days because a friend-acquaintance of mine seems to be particularly bored in her life right now and hell-bent on making it more interesting by manufacturing drama. I get it—a boring life is, well, boring. It does not use up enough psychic energy, and all that energy needs to go somewhere. If I felt entitled to give her advice, I’d suggest she take up knitting or woodworking, maybe Zumba, aerial yoga or karate—but making such suggestions would be officious and, really, neither her boredom nor her theatricals are any of my business. I can watch from the sidelines and be amused—or decide that the show is tedious and move on.
A friend who has known me since I’ve achieved sentience—for me, that happened at 17, not seven, I guess I was a late bloomer—fixates on, almost idolizes this aspect of my character, this ability to define a clear boundary and maintain it—to move on from relationships. He keeps on getting sucked in by manufactured drama and, inevitably, becomes not just compliant in the drama, but its active co-creator.
Jane: You can stop texting. You can hang up. Leave the room. Unfollow, unfriend, delete and block the contact.
Him: But I can’t!
And he really can’t. Weird thing: unlike me, he’d probably say he doesn’t really want life to be interesting. He’d prefer it to be, if not outright boring, then at least largely predictable. He’ll protest this assessment, I expect—no one likes to be tagged as wanting things to be stable. (But they don’t like drama! No drama, please!)
As I write and reflect, I think that perhaps I lie: yes, I want life to be interesting. But I also want large chunks of it to be predictable. Predictably interesting, is that a thing? I thrive on routines, and so do my kids—Laundry Monday, Tuesday night dancing, Wednesday night movies, Friday night rambling and tacos, Saturday morning Pilates (hey, that worked for a while, maybe I should bring that back), Sunday night board games. I want to have a rough road map for how my day, week, year will unfold—when most things are predictable and constant, the unexpected and the dramatic, be it good or bad, when it comes, shakes things up just enough. I can ride it, enjoy it, thrive on it too.
When everything is out of control—I’m looking at you, 2013, 2019, 2020—everything sucks, including drama.
Well past the halfway point for 2022, I feel I’m still rebuilding my anchors and routines, crafting the predictability that lets me enjoy chaos. It’s going well: I’m now creating some space for boredom—not to create drama in your life or mine, but in my head.
I tend to channel my thirst for drama, when it comes, into story. Rachel’s grandmother is dead, now it’s time to pick up the pieces—is this the fall that I finally write Noelle’s story, go back to Felicia Elizabeth Jay’s drama, is my life stable enough that I can engage in my favourite type of drama again?
Here’s some dialectics for you (mostly me): Each one of my novels to date was conceived and completed in chaos, against a back drop of severe unpredictability. The novel was the anchor—my writing practice the key thing that gave a semblance of stability to my life.
A lot of things are giving me stability right now. If I can accept that the chaos of the pandemic (if not the pandemic itself) has firmly retreated into the past, my life right now is the most predictable it has ever been. I’ve never had so much certainty, security.
Yes, this means I’m about to start manufacturing drama to make it more interesting.
Let’s hope that it stays on the page…