what you know about. I keep telling you that. I mean it's a waste of time writing fiction anyway. Nobody is going to read it. You will never get anything published. Why don't you just give up and do something useful?"
Only what I know about? Yes, you do keep telling me that. Writing fiction is a waste of time? It is my time. Nobody is going to read it? I am never going to get anything published?Something useful?
I was told all this firmly, indeed very firmly, yesterday. The person telling me sat there, as she had sat there for the past hour, and said all this and then added, "I am only telling you this for your own good Cat. You really should give up on the idea. It is not going to happen. You are just wasting your time. I know you always wanted to write but you have to face facts. You are never going to get anything published. Writers don't make money. You are much too old anyway."
The person handing out all this unwelcome advice claims to be a friend. It has always been a very one-sided "friendship". I do nothing to encourage it. She turns up occasionally and wastes my time by sitting for an hour or more telling me about her children, in whom I have no interest. They are not interesting children - or not when she talks about them.
This individual has "no time to read". She is too busy making sure her children "do things" - things that she has organised. The children do not read much either.
All this does not prevent her from offering me advice. It is not the first time she has offered such advice. She is not the only person who has offered me such advice. None of these people actually write anything themselves. None of them do much reading apart from a newspaper - if that.
It is only politeness that stops me from yelling, "Get out and don't come back."
I doubt that even that would do any good however. She knows she has upset me. It is her intention. She really does believe that she is telling me this for my own good and that upsetting me is the only way she is going to get me to stop "wasting time".
"What do you mean by 'something useful'?" I ask.
"Oh, I don't know take up a hobby of some sort."
"I have hobbies...reading..."
"That's not a hobby. You only do that if you have to. It's not productive."
"So it has to be productive?"
"Yes. Your knitting might qualify - although that is pretty slow. We really will have to find you something else to do. Then you won't waste so much time."
"Oh right. Well I was up at 4:30 this morning to talk to someone on the 'net. I have made breakfast, done some housework, answered thirty-seven work related e-mails, read the next chapter of someone's doctoral thesis and sent comments back, proof-read a submission for someone else and prepared lunch while you were talking to me..."
"And I may appear to be home all day but I do work from here. I have more than enough to occupy my time. If I want to spend my free time reading and writing then I will do that."
"No Cat, you just don't understand do you? You are wasting time. We have to get you out of the house and doing something. Never mind. I'll think of something. I must go. I have to pick the kids up from their swimming class."
She sails off without waiting for a further answer. A few minutes later my father peers cautiously around the door and asks, "Has she gone? That woman wastes so much time!"