This post first appeared on my Red Room profile
Writers notoriously have a reputation for eccentricity and bizarre, anti-social behaviour. The late Harold Pinter was notoriously bad-tempered, and how many of us, whose hours are spent in quiet darkened rooms inventing imaginary people, imaginary places, can honestly say we feel completely comfortable when required to socialise with actual people? When I'm dragged out, against my will, of a weekend, I may stand at the party with a drink in my hand, but inside I'm glowering. All I can think is, "You bastards, you took me away from my project." Don't get me wrong, I love it when people desire my company, and I'd hate for my friends to stop inviting me to things. [Please, don't stop inviting me to things]. It's just that my mind is often on the Project: how soon can I decently make my getaway, and get back behind the laptop?
For those of us whose writing does not currently pay, weekends are inevitably the finest opportunity we get for hours of quiet, uninterrupted work. During the week, it's a couple of hours a night at best. At best, and often not that. For there are Crap Tasks to be done, and it is wrong to neglect the other half in favour of a bunch of imaginary people.
So in view of that, I would like to publicly apologise for my behaviour, and explain myself to everybody. I've been acting a bit weird lately, and I think it's only fair that I explain myself, and apologise to everybody affected. I don't doubt that there a lot of people in my life wondering what the hell is going on. Why I've developed all these strange tics, why I barely speak, and why I never go out any more. Wonder no more, friends, for I do not hate you: it's just that I'm writing a novel.
Housemate: I am sorry I disappear upstairs with the laptop every time you want to watch TV in the living room. It's not that I can't bear your company, or that I despair of your choice of TV programme. It's just that I'm writing a novel.
Friend: I am sorry that I didn't come to your gig last night. I know there were bands playing that I won't get chance to watch again in a hurry, and I know it was a once in a lifetime opportunity. And I'm sorry that we haven't had chance to talk in months. It's not that I hate you, it's just that I'm writing a novel.
Long-suffering boyfriend: I'm sorry that I get all twitchy when I go for too many days without writing, and that I act a bit weird when we spent the evening on the sofa together watching TV. I'm sorry that I've annexed your computer for my own use. I'm sorry for refusing to talk back to you when I'm working. I'm sorry that sometimes I go a bit quiet when I'm in the supermarket sometimes. I'm sorry that sometimes, I go into these long protracted silences when my eyes glaze over, and I appear to be in another world. It's not that I hate you.... it's just that I'm writing a novel.