One reason I often don’t tell people I write is because they will often ask ‘how’s the writing going?’ in the same way they’d ask ‘how’s the garden going’ or ‘how’s the home decorating going?’
And this is impossible, because you can’t answer it like the other two, with a nice calm ‘lovely, thanks, the azaleas are out’ or ‘horrible, completely the wrong shade of off-white magnolia eggshell.’ Oh no. The answer to ‘how’s the writing going?’ goes like this;
Well first it was okay, but then next door’s cat kept mewing and it put me off so I had to stop and then I woke up at midnight with this great idea and I wrote for two hours, which was fantastic but then I had to get up early and found I hadn’t saved the file and I lost the whole thing and I could not find one spare bit of paper in the house, or a pen that worked and where do all the pens go and then there was guy on the news who’d just sold his book for a million pounds and it was exactly the same idea as mine even though I’d had my idea long before which means I have to start all over again and then once I had a pen I couldn’t think of anything to write so I spent the whole day cleaning my house and then ten minutes before I was due to go out I realised that I had this amazing idea so I just had to sit down and write it out and four hours later I looked at the clock and realised I’d forgotten my appointment and now I’m exhausted and frazzled and can’t stop writing and daren’t stop writing in case I forget the great ideas I’m having but have to stop writing because I have to come to work and talk to you and I think I’m going insane but then so do all the great writers but then maybe I’m not great maybe I’m just mediocre, how can I tell and who can judge these things anyway and stop asking me these questions!
Which is why I answer that question with ‘Fine, thanks.’