The Loneliness of the Long Distance Scribbler

One of my daughters just informed me that it’s Takeaway Thursday in her office. I don’t know quite how TT is organised. Only that she’d ordered something with halloumi.

You see, that’s the thing about being a self-employed writer. No office parties, no box of donuts when it’s someone’s birthday, no gossip around the water cooler or Takeaway Thursday halloumi wraps. On the plus side, neither do we have to endure committee meetings, mandatory diversity training or annual performance reviews, unless you count getting an email from your agent that begins, I’m really sorry to report…

Many years ago a few of us lone scribblers thought we’d try to remedy some of the isolation of being self-employed. We fixed a date to meet up for a pre-Christmas lunch. But came the day, none of us could make it. We were all working to tight deadlines. Nowadays I try to celebrate the putting to bed of a new book, when the proofs have been checked and rechecked and there’s nothing more I can do. It’s a moment that feels far more significant to me than publication day. Tomorrow I’ll get my hands on a proof copy of Dr Dan, Married Man? That’s when I’ll know if I’m on target to publish on March 1st. And that’s when I’ll know if it’s time to pop a cork.

If the news is good, I’ll do a cover-reveal to everyone on my mailing list. If you’re not on the list, well heavens to Betsy, what’s keeping you?

I gained a lovely verb this week: to wuffle. It’s the noise a mother pig makes to tell her piglets that dinner is served, but please, no jostling, treading on your siblings or nipping the milk bar. It could probably be used for other animal groups, although I’m prepared to be corrected on that point.

When you think about it, there are some wonderful words lying idle or neglected. Gorgonize is a verb I’ve never heard used, though my children tell me it was my tendency to gorgonize that made them so well-behaved. Grumpish is a word worth rescuing too. A shade different from grumpy, perhaps? And then there’s sennight, a word I’m itching to inflict on my American in-laws, who already have trouble with fortnight. When I use that f word they look at me as though I just stepped from the pages of a Jane Austen novel.

Do I need to get out more? Rhetorical question.

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