Meet Ptolemy

Meet Ptolemy

I posted a comment on the blog of The Hack Novelist today, and it brought something back to me. Namely, Ptolemy … my so-called invisible friend.

I say so-called because he wasn’t really my invisible friend. Back when I was about eleven (huh, only four years ago), I used to pretend that I believed in elves and dragons and, yes, my invisible friend called Ptolemy. It made me rather unpopular at school; some people still make fun of me, because at the time I referred to ‘Delorfinde’ as my elf name. When they found out I still used it, well …

I ‘met’ Ptolemy for the first time towards the end of the first or second term of Year Seven. I can’t remember which term it was, not any more. A friend of mine and I walked all the way down to the end of the field (which takes about ten minutes – it’s this sort of thing that makes me think it must have been Spring not Winter), where I claimed to see Ptolemy sitting in a tree.

Ahem.

Yeah. You know, as writers we’re often seen by other people as being crazy, and I guess there are plenty of reasons for that. Talking to oneself, crying over fictional characters and generally just yelling, “OH CRAP, I JUST KILLED HIM!” (alarming the policeman next door) are not usually the best things to endear you to other people.

Is this a bad thing?

I don’t know. I mean, they’re always saying to me that being a writer isn’t a proper job. Time-wise, I’d say it is. But if authors were a little more, well, normal, would other people be more kindly disposed to them?

Occasionally, I still talk about Ptolemy. On a school trip we were supposed to be walking in threes. It was myself, my friend Allan … and Ptolemy.

We had been separated from the rest of our group.

But most of the time, my actions a few years ago are a source of great embarrassment. I can’t even believe what an idiot I was. Perhaps if I hadn’t done that, I would have been popular. (Well, I can dream, right? Less unpopular than now, anyway).

I wonder if when I get older, I’ll look at my stories in the same way, or whether I’ll find something in there that actually, I’m very glad I wrote. Like Ptolemy. I’m very glad he’s there, sometimes, even if it makes me seem crazy. At least if people ask me who I’m talking to, I don’t have to say ‘myself’.

Although, if I’m honest, the alternative isn’t much better.

2 thoughts on “Meet Ptolemy

  1. Don’t worry Del, I had lots of imaginary friends too. Still do actually, but this time they live on the page rather than in the real world. Still find myself thinking about them sometimes though, in random situations, like: “What would …. make of that?” or “Oh my gosh, ….. would love this!”
    And it’s nice to have them there as references, don’t you think? When you don’t seem strong enough to do something, you say “What would …. do?” and use their methods to reassure you that you can do something.

    Or am I just crazy?

    As for the popularity factor …. that can go drown itself. What matters is that you are YOU and not what other people want you to be. Elves, dragons and all :)

    1. I think I wouldn’t regret it so much if it had been something I genuinely believed, but I was just making it up because I thought it would be fun.
      And no, I never wonder what Ptolemy would do. Partly because he, uh, wasn’t real.

What do you think? I'd love to hear your thoughts.

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