During the week I was at a function where good wine is offered and small-talk is expected. I’m not very good at small-talk, but found myself in conversation with a woman who launched into a monologue about how lonely I must be, working away at my desk all day, on my own. ‘Well you’re an author aren’t you?’ she said, in response to my gob-smacked silence. ‘I have a friend who is an author and she says it’s a very lonely profession – very isolated.’ Immediately I got a picture in my head of her friend the author, pinning away in her upstairs garret, and I said, ‘Yes, but I’m never lonely.’ She obviously didn’t believe me because she gave me a searching look, then proceeded to ask probing questions about every aspect of my working life.
Sure, I work alone every day in my office overlooking the back garden. But how could I be lonely? The garden is full of birds coming and going, nesting, learning to fly and singing to me. Inside I am surrounded by my puppets, my books, my favourite artworks on the walls. They keep me company. And most importantly there are my characters. Each morning I look forward to going into my office to reconnect with them. I want to know what they have been up to while I have been sleeping, walking on the beach, shopping, socialising. Pretty soon I find they have drawn me back into their world, which is full of action, suspense and mystery.
Who could possibly be lonely with all that going on?