I was busily writing away one evening this week, when I realised something surprising -
I hadn't actually had a proper, face to face conversation with anyone all day.
Sure, I'd chatted to a few people on the phone and sent some emails, but that was it. I was so taken aback I made myself get out of the house and go for a walk, just to bid a classical English "Good Evening!" to some fellow members of the human race.
(Maybe I was checking the world was, in fact, still there.)
On the walk, around my beloved River Exe, I took a photo which seemed to sum up what I was thinking -
Writing can be a lonely business.
It's deceptive to those who don't do it, as all they see are the book signings and talks and the literary festivals and summer schools, when writers and readers all gather around in a melee of pure sociability. And that's great, but the actual process of writing... it sure can be a solitary one.
Me, I sit in my study - the converted attic of the house - and type away, think a bit, sketch out some ideas, type away...
Don't get me wrong, I love it. I'm journeying far afar in my own imaginary world, meeting lots of people in the form of characters old and new, and talking to them, like you do.
But when you return to planet earth, whether it be for a coffee or to pop out for some shopping...
... you realise how isloated the writing life can often be.
How to cope? In a hideously old fashioned way -
Not by taking to Twitter, or some such, but by ringing a friend and heading out for a pint and a chat. It felt good to re-engage with the world, and besides -
Only by occasionally venturing out into that strange place called reality can you pick up more ideas and inspiration for your next piece of writing, however solitary it may be.