I went to a Macmillan coffee morning on Friday, which was bizarre enough in itself, but the thing that stood out most, in that country house, with its stone-flagged kitchen floor and fine stairwell, was....er... me.
Having just returned from a week in the mountains, I am still favouring my Aviemore uniform: walking boots, a (bright green) waterproof jacket and a pair of cleanish jeans. Everyone else was wearing designer clothes, perfect hair/nails and names like Felicity. I have a lot in common with these women, but I didn't cut the mustard in my semi mountain garb; they didn't recognise me as a middle class, middle-aged, country-dwelling mother, but rather as some transient who had wondered in off the Downs.
Conversely, if I'd turned up to Corrour Bothy last weekend with anything other than a pair of Zamberlains (or similar), hair awry and broken nails, they'd have thought I'd taken a wrong turning at the carpark (the shopping area is the other way).
I confess to feeling a little at odds with my surroundings while searching for a friend amongst last month's Thunder in the Glen gathering (Harley Davidsons R Us). Despite being a biker myself, and being in a pub I know well and love, I didn't fit; I was wearing the wrong uniform. But I didn't really mind.
I feel all right in my ten-quid jeans and a pair of boots. I've tried and failed to smarten myself up over the years, invariably reverting to my own uniform, that one that says "ME" and the one in which I feel most comfortable.
When it comes to writing, I realise I'm lucky – not just because I'm happy in my clothes, but also because I'm happy in my genre. I often wonder, however, about those whose writing is less mainstream than mine? Do they feel out of place? Are horror writers able to show their work to their mums? What about authors of erotica? Some genres, once considered way out on a limb (e.g. fantasy & paranormal), can now been considered mainstream in their own ways, but I know the stigma remains in some people's minds.
Are you happy in your genre, or do you feel under pressure to write something more... normal?