When I first started meeting other authors, I couldn’t believe how easy it was just to drop their names casually into conversations. Which I did a lot, JUST BECAUSE I COULD.
Nowadays, I drop lots of names casually into conversations because after five years of writing books, writers are just about the only people I know. And even though, technically speaking, I do know a few other people, they get a kind of glazed look on their faces when I explain that I’m really stuck on some part of a book, and when I’m done complaining, they say something like: “So, um, wait a minute. Hang on here. All you have to do in a WHOLE YEAR is write one lousy book?”
And then I start to splutter and explain that it has to be one good book, actually, and there’s lots of travelling and reviewing and tidying up my office and making cups of tea, not to mention walking dogs and riding horses, which takes up tons of time, and they look completely incredulous and say, “But what you don’t seem to understand is that normal people get up every morning when it’s still dark, have to try to find some sort of new outfit to wear that everyone at work hasn’t seen a billion times, then endure a fight to the death on the Northern Line with thousands of other homicidal wage slaves, arrive at some hellish sealed building that would make an excellent alternative to Guantanamo, greet the wired-up weirdo sadist who happens to be the boss, and then accomplish things for the next eight hours, or maybe ten, or twelve, OR SIXTEEN. And your books are SO SHORT, TOO.”
In my very feeble defence I’d like to say two things: 1, I worked in various offices for twenty five years, and I feel your pain. 2, I hardly ever whine, and when I do it’s usually so people think being a writer is hard, and not the sort of job that means you can lounge in bed till 10:30 thinking, and call it work.
That’s why, these days, I mostly talk to other writers.
You know who you are.