They say writing is a solitary occupation, and they’d be right.
Most of the time, writers talk about the loneliness that full-time writing can bring upon you. Dancing to the beat of your own drum is one thing; sitting with nobody but yourself is another. Especially if you’re fighting with yourself over plot points.
And working in your pyjamas to your own timetable might sound great to anyone who has to deal with Fergal from Accounts first thing on a Monday morning, but when you realise on Thursday that you haven’t had a conversation all week with anyone other than that spam caller who asked you if the real billpayer could come to the phone, you can find yourself suddenly dying to put on some pressed rayon trousers and drive to an industrial estate.
Of course, if you’re a full-time writer, one major positive is that you’re spared the festive hell of the work Christmas Party, where you’re also forced to socialise with people you never even chose to spend your days with, and yet you somehow ended up in a situation where some dude you kind of hate a little knows what you have for breakfast but your best friend or spouse doesn’t, and some part of your brain will NEVER get over this.
That’s not to say that writers shouldn’t have their own Christmas party: a night of fun and frolics when writers and book lovers can come together to socialise, have conversations in person with real people, and do their best not to blurt out “but you look so much older than I imagined you!”
The Christmas Collection
Luckily enough, the An Post Irish Book Awards just happen to take place in Dublin at the end of November each year, and so have become a de facto Christmas party for the scribblers of Ireland.
It’s a night when writers come together to celebrate, drink and be merry (or to compete, win/lose and get leery, depending on which genre you’re into – I mean, it’s a bunch of writers. There has to be a story in it somewhere, and if there isn’t, we’re going to make one up.)
And as even further luck would have it, the writing.ie team is going too. Those of us lucky enough to write for the website get to sit at the naughty table, which as all Irish people know is always the best craic at a wedding.
On a more formal basis, writing.ie is also sponsor of the award for best short story of the year, but that’s a far more serious subject than I’m willing to deal with in this blog, so I will leave all the heavy lifting there to the folk other people actually listen to (i.e. everyone else on this site).
I myself will also be getting all frocked up to ogle the superstars who are nominated for the various awards, as I both scoff and quaff simultaneously – and I can tell you now that it’s not a pretty sight.
The Inevitable ‘What If?’ Part Of The Post
Part of me wonders, though, what it would be like if the annual book awards event really WAS an office Christmas party.
Imagine the writer who’s been pining lustily for that particular agent or publisher all year, only to throw themselves upon them at midnight in a desperate booze-fuelled bout of courage, only to either score or fail spectacularly, depending on whether you’re an optimist or a pessimist (and whether you believe the stories about authors literally stumbling upon their agents).
Imagine the ultra-reserved author, who has been quietly watching people from the sidelines all night, only to eventually upset the entire table and quite a few stomachs by declaring they’ve actually netted a major deal which is going to make them the biggest cheese in the room the following year.
Or imagine the wallflower, renowned for doing and saying nothing at all every other day of the week, but who finally breaks and tells the head honcho that he’s always hated her AND her books, and was in fact the guy behind the most famous anonymous review burn ever to grace the internet.
One way or another, I’ll do my best to gather my gossip next Tuesday night at the An Post Irish Book Awards. Of course, if I find any, I’ll never tell: but you can thank me later – because as any good writer knows, truth never sells as well as fiction.