January 28th, 2009

No, I don't go to clubs

For some reason, I've recently been besieged by friends wanting to know about my exciting life as a writer living in Southern California. "Do you go to the beach a lot?" asked one. "Uhhh...the beach is an hour away. I'm in the Valley," I answered, to his disappointment.

From someone else came, "What clubs do you go to?" I'm afraid I was especially discouraging with that response: "I don't go to clubs." "So what do you do for fun when you go out?" persisted this pal. "Uhhh...I don't really go out."

Even my own mother gets into the act. "Are you guys doing anything fun tonight?" she'll ask on a Saturday morning. "Working at one job and then coming home to the other, mom - and by the way, why do you still ask this?" (Because she will ask it pretty much EVERY Saturday.) I think she's slightly dismayed at having a daughter who fell faaaaarrr from mom's apple tree and doesn't go out dancing on Saturday night.

I guess it comes down to that old notion that most people who don't write really can't comprehend the process. The words don't just magically toss themselves out onto a page; the story fairy doesn't arrive nightly, tap the computer once, and then say, "Now, hie thee to a club!" No, the reality is that I work 40 hours a week at a bookstore (another job which tends to frustrate those preconceived notions - replace thoughts of reading all day and exchanging literate chatter with frequent bouts of heavy physical labor and nonstop rushing), then I come home to my REAL job and write. I don't even watch television (except for the occasional movie). I don't listen to music (unless it's background for my work). I don't even get to read much. I work.

And I love it.

That may be the hardest part to explain. I really would rather be telling stories than doing almost anything else (for one thing, I did a lot of those things in my youth, and they weren't always that great). It goes well beyond compulsion to constant source of delight; I'm in line with Alan Moore in believing that we become magicians when we write, creating something from nothing. Some of you are probably reading this and nodding in understanding (hail, fellow writer!).

As for those of you who still don't get it...just do me the favor of not asking me again what exciting thing I'm doing tonight, or I might start telling you stories.