I think I’ll go outside and work for a while, I announced to absolutely no-one.

I talk to myself all the time. I did it when I was in an office, and I do it more working from home. It’s part of being… a career communicator, a woman, a Leo?

Or slightly mad?

Because as soon as the words were out of my mouth, I remembered our son was home with Covid. And I felt self-conscious about how talking to myself might come across to a 21-year-old.

But doing life out loud has always been a thing for me.

Should I be embarrassed?

I read my writing out loud – always – before I publish.

I talk myself through everyday situations and moments of crisis (usually when nobody is around though).

And, until my early teens, not only did I talk to myself, I also talked to the characters I’d invented in my revised life scenes.

Some of my earliest memories involve rewriting my day. I had a handsome cowboy ride into our school assembly, reach out his hand and hoist me onto the saddle behind him. Perfection.

I played this scene over and over, with out-loud dialogue, walking home from school. It made me feel special.

But there was a downside.

Even as I clung to them, I felt ashamed of my alternate realities.

Creating characters to be the friends I lacked? How immature. How dull.

Now, from the distance of Very Grown Up, I see it more kindly.

Yes, I was slightly odd but so were many pre-pubescent girls.

And my life seemed dull, but at least I was safe, loved and comfortable.

I may have lamented the lack of lustre in my life but what a way to compensate. Characters and dialogue. Subterfuge and surprising twists as an awkward pre-teen turns herself into the leading character. A good start for a writing life.

Difference distinguishes us from everyone else.

I’ve come to recognise that my uncomfortable difference is the ballast keeping my ship steady. I’ve learned that talking to myself engages the language centres of my brain. It’s my warm-up before sitting down to write. And creating those other lives was useful in helping me believe in a future to get excited about.

Difference is what sets us apart from each other.

If we accept, even embrace it, we can use it to establish our own unique place in the world.

Now that’s the kind of talk I like

Feel free to get in touch. Email me, sherene@sherenestrahan.com