Nothing UFO related (apart from those saucers over there with the tea cups, the ones disgorging tiny aliens who are trying to steal the biscuits). I digress. There’s all the usual at the bar, he says, sliding the absinthe out of sight. Tea, coffee, soya milk shakes, ginger beer, biscuits… ah, biscuits are off. Fruit cake instead.
The encounters I had in mind are those in which it becomes known to others that you write. How has that gone? Or do you not tell?
I keep quiet about it these days unless in the company of other writers. It saves a lot of explaining. Because there does seem to be a lot of ignorance about what writing involves and a considerable number of assumptions seem to be made. There are all the usual questions about what you’ve written and who your publisher is, and so on, as well as the assumptions that lie behind questions like those (for example, that you are not a writer unless you’ve been published). There are others as well. Someone I once had a conversation with could not understand why a published writer would be living in a Council flat. I’m not sure they believed me when I gave a few statistics about the earning power of authors and the conditions under which they work (a couple of years on a project with no guarantee it will even be sold, let alone anything else).
So, have you encountered this at all? Do people give you funny looks and sidle out of the room? Are you fêted? Do people really understand what it’s all about?