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Monday, October 17, 2011

How to Spot a Writer at a Party

In case it’s not obvious, I’m anti-social. I often use work or family as an excuse to decline invitations to social events because people think I’m lying when I tell them I’d prefer to relax at home on the weekends. (Not that I have time to relax on the weekends while I’m working on the MBA, but that’s temporary. I hope.) I have very few close friends, but I value those relationships and work hard to maintain them. For instance, although I live in Calgary, I’ve gotten to know the restaurant scene in Toronto very well because I order a lot of food to be delivered to my friend who had to move in with her parents while she’s dealing with cancer. The Peking duck I had delivered last week was a huge hit.

With my buddy, Adam (not his real name), turning forty this week, I prettied myself, bought a bottle of Baileys as big as my head and a bottle of Bacardi Mojito, and went over to his house last Saturday to help him celebrate (or is it commiserate?). Since Adam is the nicest guy in the world and a social butterfly, his house was packed. Over the years, I’ve gotten to know a few of his boot camp buddies, but I can’t bring myself to do more than greet those people. Instead, I, being the writer that I am, headed straight for his wife’s best friend, Hannah (not her real name), because she works for the police department. (Yes, the sad truth is other people are research material for writers.) She’s not an officer, but she works with them and I love getting insights from her about the workings of the police department and its people–and the occasional introduction. She knows almost everybody, including the police chief, the head of the homicide unit, the head of the drug unit, and the mayor, whom I got to meet when he stopped by to wish Adam happy fortieth and deliver a gift. (I’ve met the previous mayor at public functions and charity events, but last night was the first time I got to meet a mayor at a private function…which gave me a chance to note that the current one wears very colorful socks.)

Anyway, I plied Hannah with Baileys and got great tidbits and stories. At one point, I even took out my 11″ MacBook Air (it’s small enough that it’s always with me) to make notes. Even the stuff I didn’t think I would use, I recorded because I might decide to write about a narcotics detective one day. All in all, despite not getting to bed until 5 AM and having a headache telling me I’m too old for late nights, I enjoyed myself.

Next time I see Hannah, I’m going to wrangle an invitation to meet the tact team–and not because she says they're the fittest guys on the force. Really.

So, how do you spot a writer at a party? She’s the one taking notes while everyone else is talking. Or the one drinking alone on the sofa.

10 comments:

Rita said...

A writer at a party is the one not talking about herself but asking everyone else questions about their life.

Toni Anderson said...

Ann and Rita--I thought it was just me :) And ditto on anti-social. But my hubby drags me out for fun times so I can't get too stuck in my ways.

Shirley Wells said...

Yep, ditto on the anti-social issue. I hardly say a word at parties, I'm far too busy listening and making mental notes. I love the idea of taking the MacBook Air to a party. :)

JB Lynn said...

See now I would have said the way to spot a writer at a party is to find the person with the most glazed over eyes. No doubt someone is telling her ALL about the book THEY are "going to write someday".

Anne Marie Becker said...

Love that you had your MacBook with you! And I agree with Rita... writers are the best listeners, because they're mentally cataloguing whatever people say to fuel character development later. ;)

MaureenAMiller said...

Yup! Anti-social. Ironically, the NYUS group could probably manage to be social if we were all put in the same room. Probably...

Marcelle Dubé said...

Your post made me laugh out loud, Ann. I *so* recognized myself in it. I'm the one going around "interviewing" interesting-looking people. My children despair.

Ann Bruce said...

Ladies, it's nice to know I'm not alone. And one day, we may have to do an NYUS get-together--and we'll all be armed with old-school notebooks and notebook computers. (And I don't mean to do a plug for Apple, but the MacBook Air is this writer's best friend. It's light and has a full-blown keyboard for serious typing anytime, anywhere.)

@JB Lynn: I sometimes tell people they shouldn't share their book ideas with me because I might steal them and become the next Stephen King or John Grisham.

Wendy Soliman said...

Anti-social? Absolutely! I love my own company and the worlds I create within my head. People think I'm weird, but that's fine with me.

Clare London said...

Hell, I *treasure* my quiet weekends as a chance to catch up on homelife and get back to my writing. Hubby and I have had plenty of rows in the past about my reluctance to take on any social invites. "And you were such a party girl when I met you!"

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