Partner: What are you doing?
Partner: No, you're not. I've been watching you for the past five minutes and you're just sitting there staring into space.
Me: Staring into space is part of writing.
Partner: Uh-huh. And before that, when you frowned at the screen, typed in a single word, frowned some more, then sighed heavily and deleted it again - that's part of writing too, is it?
Partner: And those times when you swear and slam the lid of your laptop shut, before stomping off to the kitchen to eat chocolate - they're also part of writing?
Me (defensively): Yes.
Partner: I see.
(He sits back in his chair and closes his eyes. Ten minutes pass in silence.)
Me: What are you doing?
Partner (without opening his eyes): Unloading the dishwasher.
Casual acquaintance: So, I gather you've written a book.
Me (warily): Yes.
Casual acquaintance: I've often thought I'd like to write a book.
Casual acquaintance: Yeah. I mean, how hard can it be? People write books all the time.
Me: Well, yes, but -
Casual acquaintance: It must be nice, getting paid for just sitting there scribbling all day. Like getting paid to daydream.
Me: Well, it's not exactly -
Casual acquaintance: Have you signed up with a publisher yet?
Me: That's not how it -
Casual acquaintance: I'd go for Penguin, myself. I reckon my name would look good on one of those classic book cover mug things. So what's your book about?
Me: Um, it's a fantasy, and -
Casual acquaintance: Like Harry Potter?
Me: No, not really.
Casual acquaintance: Oh. To be honest, I don't read much fantasy. I don't read much fiction, actually. I prefer celebrity biographies, stuff like that. I got Peter Andre's autograph the other day.
Casual acquaintance: Still, not reading other people's fiction means I won't be influenced when I come to write my own, right?
Me: Well -
Casual acquaintance: Like I said, how hard can it be?
Me (under my breath): You just wait.*
Me: This scene we wrote yesterday is actually pretty good.
Myself: Er, no, it's not. It's terrible.
Me: But look how witty the dialogue is! How cleverly we built the suspense! How successfully we revealed character through action!
Myself: It's the worst excuse for a piece of writing I've ever read. It sucks in every conceivable way. Based on this heap of garbage, we don't deserve to call ourselves a writer; in fact, I think we should give up and do something else with our lives.**
Me: Yeah, you're right. I don't know what I was thinking.
Myself: Let's go and eat chocolate.
(The following day ...)
Me: I know we said we were going to give up writing, but I just can't help myself.
Myself: I know. Me neither.
Me: So what are we going to do with this scene? Scrap it and start again?
(We read it through.)
Myself: Actually ... it's pretty good.
(Repeat ad infinitum.)
* The sad thing is, this woman probably will end up getting a multi-book deal and a six-figure advance. C'est la vie.
** Like play Gollum in the LOTR movies.