I hate, hate, hate, hate, hate people using the fact that I’m a writer to start conversations. I know, I know, they’re just trying to make small talk, they’re not really interested in the answer, it’s all part of the glorious round of social interaction … but fer crying out loud, if you want small talk, talk about the weather.
I will gladly talk about my writing to an audience likely to understand the subtexts. Someone in the know will probably ask “what are you writing on” or “what is your current project”, which is very different. That has scope for a meaningful answer.
But this … this, quite innocently (I understand that, which is why I don’t thump them) suggests something that means so much to me is but a dilettante hobby. The questions are so clueless, so utterly without understanding of the basic facts; our starting points are so far apart there can be no hope for reconciliation within the context of small talk.
“Are you still writing?” Why, yes. Are you still breathing? The answer is ALWAYS. Why can’t you get that into your head?
“How’s the writing?” Fine, thanks. How’s the marriage?
“Have you written any more books?” This is the one that so gets me. Would you ask an architect if he’s built any more houses? A mother if she’s had any more babies … since you saw her last week? In the popular imagination, books just slide out like wet concrete off a trowel, at about the same rate as Ernie Wise churned out plays. There is no conception that if you asked this question last week and ask it again today then chances are good that nothing will have changed. It takes time to write a book.
Rant over. For now.