I mentioned to some of my work colleagues a while ago that I was working on a book. It was a comment made in passing that I thought nothing of but the reactions have been interesting.
Most responded in the way I wanted - complete ignorance. Others have shown a polite interest and then there are the ones who act quite strangely indeed. Case in point, a conversation that occurred last week...
"I've got a book in me, you know."
"I'm sorry?" I looked up at my colleague.
"Me," He said again, nodding. "I could write a book."
"Oh," I smiled, not quite sure what to say. "In that case, maybe you should."
"Can't," He shrugged nonchalantly. "I mean, I could if only I had the time."
I nodded enthusiastically and moved my chair closer to him, "But you should make the time if you really want to do it. If it's a dream."
"Yeah..." He rubbed his chin. "It's not that simple really, Em. You see, I've got quite a busy life. A lot going on. It's okay for someone like you."
I raised an eyebrow, "Oh, how's that?"
"Well," He started. "You're not married and you don't have children." He pointed at himself and flashed me a sympathetic smile. "I do."
"So, what I'm saying is," He cocked his head to one side, "Someone like you has the time to write little stories."
"Hmm, maybe you're right," I said through gritted teeth, wheeling my chair back to the desk. "Perhaps there's not a book in you after all."
"There is. I'll get around to it when I'm retired."
"I'm sure you will."
"It's impossible for your first book to be a best-seller you know."
"Oh, well...Thanks for the advice."
This kind of conversation has happened a few times with different people and I can't figure out whether they think I'm really pathetic or that they're jealous in some way. I can't imagine why on earth it'd be the latter, it's not like I'm suddenly JK Rowling. I'm still sat at my desk furiously typing away, trying to tackle my ever increasing mountain of work.
No, perhaps they're not jealous of my 'success' but more the fact I remind them of the things they haven't done that they always promised they would. We all have a mental checklist of things we want to achieve and those crazy dreams never go away. Whether it's being signed to Manchester United, or playing a sell out concert at Madison Square Garden, we all believe there's a chance this could still happen, no matter how old and wrinkly we get.
It's true, everyone thinks they can write a novel but the fact is, most people never do. Someone like me, with my battered, over-read manuscript stuffed in my bag, reminds them of yet another thing they haven't done. Doesn't make me a better person. My tactless colleague probably has a wonderful family who are the centre of his universe. A family he loves more than anything and would die for if he had to.
Not too shabby eh?
And when you think like that, it suddenly feels silly to belittle someone who dreams of having her little stories on the shelves of Waterstones.