It’s hard to write today. It’s been hard to write since Friday, when I woke up to find my country had ripped itself in half. On Friday, I wanted nothing more than to write a retraction of this, in which I suggested that most people were fundamentally decent and humane. There on the television people were celebrating the fact that my homeland, my lovely, kind, foolish homeland, could close its borders to refugees. There on my Twitter feed were beaten faces, stories of abuse shouted from passing vans, screenshots of messages telling British people with Asian names to ‘go home’. On the radio they were tallying the billions wiped off the FTSE in a single day, and on the street I looked at every passing person and thought: Was it you? Was it?
I’m not going to write a whole post about my feelings on the referendum result, because: 1. there’s only so much despair any reader can take; 2. this is a blog about writing; and 3. I have to get my mojo back. Despair has killed my writing stone dead for four days. Today I will reconnect with my lighthearted side and write something about stock questions.
Hey! Have you just met someone new? Have you asked them what they do? And they said they were a writer? WTF are you supposed to say about that?
Here, have a few handy hints:
- Look embarrassed. Being creative. It’s – hmmm. It’s just a bit personal. And it’s bound to be crap, isn’t it? They don’t even look like a writer. They’re just wearing a crumpled Next shirt and drinking tea. What if they want me to read it? Shit! What if it’s poetry? Should I ask if it’s poetry? I hope it’s not poetry. I won’t ask just in case. I’ll just try and look mildly approving, but in a wary way. That’s it. Lovely.
- Ask them where they get their inspiration from! Is it from your food? Is it secreted from a little inspiration gland? Does it fall from the sky when the moon is gibbous? Do you go out collecting it from under pebbles? Is it delivered to you via UPS? Is it carried to you in the beaks of small birds? Can you order it on Amazon? Is it encoded in the pattern of oak tree bark? Do you pan for it in local streambeds? Do you steal it from museums? Do you distil it from privet leaves? Do you get it on prescription? Do you divine it from the entrails of animals? Do you hear it in the rushing of the sea? Do you subscribe to Inspiration Monthly? Can you buy it at Waitrose? Is it washed up on the shore after high tide? Because it’s simply not possible that it just comes out of your brain.
- Ask them what kind of stuff they write. Werewolves? Ghosts? Crime? Romance? History? Thrillers? Vampires? Wizards? Historical romance? Wizard history? Romantic werewolves? Criminal ghosts? Thrilling vampire wizards? Remember: if they say ‘Just general fiction,’ they mean that they write stories for Woman’s Own about holiday romances with swarthy Spanish waiters.
- Ask them if they’ve written a book. If answer is ‘No’, look disappointed.
Normal, non-ratty service to be resumed soon.