by: Mindy McGinnis
From a young age we're taught this phrase. Don't be afraid to reject drugs. Stand up for yourself. Make it clear you're not interested. Walk away. But it seems that if you continue to apply this lesson to innocuous solicitations as you get older, you risk social alienation.
Random Kind Person: How would you like to be a Brownie leader this year?
Nice Parent: I'm looking for a few moms to volunteer to watch the younger children during soccer practice, would you like to help out?
Really Cool Book-Type Person: I'm starting an adult book club, would you be interested?
When you read the above statements, I kinda come off like a bitch, don't I? And while that's a debatable point, what it comes down to is that there are only so many minutes in an hour, hours in a day, days in the week, weeks in the month, and months in the year. I've got time constraints like a sassy nun's got a chastity belt, and adding more shit to the shinola in order to make nice doesn't fit into my worldview.
I started out trying to say it nicely, and be polite, the way my German momma wants me to.
Me: Well, that doesn't really work for me. Wednesday nights I have a knitting class.
Gleeful Response: Oh but that's OK! We can move to Tuesdays or, meet in the mornings even!
Me: Well, I'm not sure. I'm awfully busy right now.
Cheery Smile: Oh it's not all that time consuming, half hour meetings at the most!
I've even tried honesty:
Me: I don't think I can. See, I'm a writer, and I need that time to write.
Oblivious: You can just bring your paper and pencil with you, and write while the kids are playing!
So, I let my Irish side have a go and I went with the concise, slightly rude, you-can't-explain-me-away answer that those anti-drug assemblies taught me years ago: No.
While our amazing e-friendships and networking reminds us that we are not alone in our journey towards authorship, the fact remains that the act of writing is a solitary endeavor. We need our time, we need our space, we need to get into the groove and hit our stride to make the words start flowing.
So don't be afraid that you won't be invited to the next Nice People Gathering or Coalition of Really Useful People. Stick to your guns, write your books.