Why I Prefer Talking to Penguins… By Ruth Fitzgerald

penguin-1152058_1280What a week it’s been. So much tension over the EU Referendum, then the embarrassing football debacle and a whole week of Maths mocks for my daughter. At the moment it seems like everyone in my house is stomping, stropping or shouting about something!

At times like this being a writer is the best jobs in the world. Other people go to work or school and have to engage in all the talk and office politics. The election is rehashed over and over, the missed scoring opportunities are replayed ad nauseum. I go to work at the library and immerse myself in story world. Occasionally, there are people who try to engage me in conversation but I stick my earphones in and pretend I can’t hear them. (I don’t actually play any music, but don’t tell anyone that.) This week I’ve been mostly spending my mornings with a talking penguin called Gilbert. He may or may not make it into a book, but he hasn’t mentioned Roy Hodgson once.

I suppose it’s being a bit of an introvert that makes it more difficult to do the ‘water-cooler’ thing. I used to think I couldn’t be an introvert because I’m quite jolly and chatty when I’m around people and I’m not at all shy. But spending time with groups of people really saps my energy, especially people I don’t know well. Constantly responding to other people’s feelings and ideas exhausts me. After an hour my inner self is crying out to go home! Also, I find it really hard to make small talk. When my daughters were young I hated picking them up from school. I would stand in the playground with the other parents and not be able to think of a single thing to talk about! Other mums would talk about the best place to buy PE kits, or the timetable for running the school fete cake stall and I would do a lot of nodding and smiling and send mind messages to my kids to please, hurry up, I’m going crazy!

So, over time, I realised I need to spend a lot of time on my own and that doesn’t necessarily make me strange (although, there may be other things that do!) And I’ve also realised that many, many writers are the same. Maybe it’s because we love to read, think and imagine and it’s very difficult to do that when someone is asking your opinion on the colour of the new office chairs.

So, it’s been fun but now I’ve got to go. I’ve got a date in the library, with Gilbert.

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