I’ve always been amused by the prevailing idea in our culture that writers are anti-social creatures, people who would rather spend time alone in a room than have to speak to other sentient beings. The writers I’ve met come in all types, of course, but very few have really fit this cliché. In fact, I’ve noticed that whenever they are thrown together at a conference, a festival, or some other literary event, writers don’t mind gathering, late into the night, to talk. I rarely ever take part in these late-night chats, simply because I can’t handle them. I sleep, on average, between nine and ten hours a night. I can function on eight hours, if I have to. But if I’m forced, by circumstance, to get by with seven hours, I’m nearly useless.
When I was in Indiana last week, for instance, all the invited writers and artists wanted to go have drinks. It was almost midnight. I excused myself because I could barely think, let alone talk. They insisted. Why, they asked, could I not come just for a bit? I said I had to go to bed. Which, of course, sounded like the lamest, most ridiculous excuse to their ears. They looked at me sideways. I imagine they thought I was being standoffish. But, really, I was just exhausted, and already counting how many hours of sleep I could get. And the morning after? I was the last one to get up.