when support causes failure

Writing, as we are so often told, is a solitary activity. For some people, that makes it more difficult to write. For part-time misanthropes like myself, that's a good thing. Don't get me wrong: for part of the time, I love being with friends and family, giving and receiving affection and attention, helping each other out... but only for part of the time. For the other part of the time, I'm quite happy to be on my own, writing.

When I was a teenager, I was able to write in my journal and carry on a conversation about something completely different at the same time. For example, the journal would be about why high school sucks on that particular day, while the conversation would be about whether or not Echo & the Bunnymen would ever re-form and go on to make more music (aside: I am ever-grateful that they did). I can't do that anymore. Partly it's because I'm no longer able to pull off eccentricity like I did when I was a teenager, and partly it's because my friends no longer feel bad about yelling at me if they think I'm ignoring them.

What this means, though, is that the solitary joy of writing has become even more precious.

That makes NaNoWriMo a problem. On the one hand, support is everywhere: on Twitter, with my friends, on the NaNoWriMo site itself. On the other hand, all that support can be in itself distracting. You're here to help me through my 50,000 word count? Great. I appreciate it. Talk to you 1 December.

There's only one thing worse than having writer's block, and that's having a friend call you up to offer their support just when you were getting in the groove (or, more likely, thinking that you would start making your word quota in five minutes, just as soon as you finished your cup of tea). It makes me think of that Camus story where the famous painter, desperate for some quality work time, locks himself in the cupboard under the stairs and refuses to come out until he's done his painting.

Camus's protagonist dies in his self-imposed isolation, but there's got to be a happy ending that suits the part-time misanthrope and the part-time gregarious parts of me (and you, and all creative people) together. I don't want the support to go away, and I don't want to stop supporting people.

I just want to get the damned novel done, too.

Know what I mean?