Meeting people is easy

by M.J. Hearle

I have a confession to make, Welcome Reader.

I don’t like meeting people. It’s not that I’m misanthropic, or painfully shy. I just struggle to make a decent first impression. At best I’m friendly and forgettable, at worst a little distant. Charm eludes me. Or does until I’m given a few opportunities to warm up. With that in mind, you’ll forgive me if I try and race through this introduction. It’s not that I don’t want to meet you, it’s just that I’d rather skip forward to the part where we already know each other and can talk more freely.

At this moment, I’m just a series of characters you’re reading on a computer screen. My appearance is a mystery. I could be a gorgeous twenty-five year old Swedish masseuse with golden skin and eyes the colour of stormy seas. Or I might just be a geriatric, wheelchair bound fellow with canned corn stuck between his teeth. Of course you could just click on the ‘About’ page and look at my picture but why don’t we try a little creative exercise instead? It might be more fun.

I’d like you to imagine, Welcome Reader, that you’re at party. It can be an intimate gathering of friends, a backyard BBQ or grand soiree. It’s your imagination so go wild. Got a picture in your mind? Great, lets continue…

So you’re at this party and the people you came with have disappeared and left you standing alone (some friends, huh?). The other partygoers already seem to know each other. They’re clustered tightly in groups, laughing, drinking, enjoying themselves and you’re understandably a little reluctant to interrupt. Scanning the room you notice there’s someone else on the party’s periphery – a guy looking a little lost and ill at ease. He’s got boyish features, appears to be in his late twenties or early thirties (okay – probably more like early thirties), and has short, messy hair. If it’s summer, he’s wearing jeans, a t-shirt and thongs (flip flops for you yanks and poms, jandals to the kiwis). If it’s cold he might be wearing an old leather jacket that fits a little too tightly around the shoulders. Unless it’s snowing, the thongs remain all year round. He gets hot feet.

I know this because that guy over there is me.

‘Hi I’m (insert name here),’ you say, walking over and sticking out your hand with a friendly smile.

I shake your hand, grateful for the company. ‘Nice to meet you, I’m Michael.’

‘So Michael – can I call you Mike or Mick?’


‘I’ll go with Mick then. So, Mick, what do you do for a crust?’

I glance away, mumbling something unintelligible.

‘Sorry, can you repeat that?’

Clearing my throat, I say, with a vaguely self-conscious expression on my face. ‘I’m a writer.’

It takes some effort for you not to roll your eyes. I don’t blame you. For most people claiming to be a writer is akin to saying you’re an artist. Or a musician. Or a filmmaker. Or someone poor and unemployed.

‘Really? What do you write?’

‘Novels actually. Well, one so far. It’s called Winter’s Shadow and should be in bookstores mid June.’

That catches your attention. Well, hopefully it does otherwise you and I aren’t going to have much to talk about. If you’re not interested in hearing how a guy with no professional writing experience became a published author, then I suggest you move along. Go ahead, I won’t be offended. There’s plenty of other people at this party, surely one of them will have something amusing to say. If you stick around though I promise I’ll do my best to keep you entertained. At least until the friends you came here with show up.

Still here? Cool. Let’s talk about writing. About how to get a book finished, get an agent and score a publishing deal. I can’t promise I’ll stick on topic and there will undoubtedly be digressions and diversions along the way. Ultimately though it will always come back to the written word. Remember, I’m just starting out in this game, so the opinions and insights I offer are from a newbie, not a seasoned wordsmith. Nevertheless, I believe they’ll prove worthwhile. Maybe, even a little helpful.

We’ve met now, the hard part’s over. Now we can start getting to know each other in earnest. I’m sure it won’t be long till we’re chatting like old friends. Check back later this week for my next post, and learn what led a thirty-year old graphic designer to write a novel about a teenage girl who falls in love with a monster.

Until then,