I certainly can’t speak for everyone, but when it comes to writing human interaction in novels, I find myself by far better at dealing with one-to-one situations. They’re cleaner—even when artificially complicated—and the atoms (components) are much easier to keep track of.
The thing is, life’s not like that. In order to get where we’re going in life we sometimes have to work in groups, and to get where we’re going as novelists, we sometimes have to describe the complex interaction of a group of people.
Novelists, in my experience, may be OK in groups, but aren’t particularly enamored of group experience (except for reading one’s work to adoring fans).
Being no less than described, imagine my surprise when I watch a group of people, members of a club I preside over, come together with ideas, energy and innovation. Tonight (last night, as you read this) at our board meeting (Fremont Area Writers, a branch of the California Writers Club) I watched several delicate and difficult situations get resolved through extreme cooperation. I watched several writers, all of whom I respect for their skills and talent, put aside their egos and work out any number of problems.
There were no officially “bad” ideas, no arguments, no conflict. Rather, these remarkable people put their heads together and fixed things. I was privileged to watch difficult issues get swept away by accord.
I bring this up for two reasons, first, as stated above, we need the skill to write about complex social interactions. It is a part of the writing of a novelist, even if it is somewhat rare in the novelist’s life.
The other reason? I’m just damn proud of these people… and wanted to say so.