Don’t get me wrong, Christmas parties with family are great. But what I would prefer to avoid at all costs are the corporate parties. They’re inevitably held at a venue with a free-flowing bar and a dance floor, which pretty much sums up the two main activities of the night. Oh, and there’s generally some kind of theme which you’re expected to dress to–the two I’ve seen so far this year are “80s prom” and “ears and tails”.
The situation would be considerably improved if I enjoyed alcohol (why, oh why, must you taste so bad?), danced (music + coordination needed = someone hurt, usually me), or if I enjoyed dressing up (you’re expected to wear make-up to these things?). A quiet night at home, curled up with a good book and a steaming cup of tea, sounds infinitely more appealing.
So, despite my considerable trepidation, I went to the first of the Christmas parties last week, the one with the “80s prom” theme. With my sister as my plus one, we navigated the crowd to find the bar (sparkling water for me), then made a round of the room to scope out food tables, waiters with canapés, and other entertainment. We eventually settled for standing around near the kitchen door, and watched the costumed crowd pass by. There were men in long-haired, rocker-style wigs and women in neon colours. One guy had small, round sunglasses, a curly wig, and an electric guitar. Another had an afro and a gold disco suit.
I finally found a fellow project-mate there, and she promptly introduced me to a number of her friends, all of whom I’d never met before. We also caught up on the latest news of what was happening within the company. Later on I was dragged to the dance floor and although I would like to say I shook my booty, I pretty much just stood there and swayed a bit in time to the music while admiring the people who could dance–at least, they could at the start of the night. We found the photo booth and made crazy faces while holding ridiculous poses. And when we finally went home that night, I had to admit the night had been better than expected.
Writers cannot live on words alone. We need to interact with the people beyond those in our writing groups (or gaming guilds, perhaps). We need to step out of our comfort zone, go places we wouldn’t normally go, meet people we wouldn’t normally meet. For how else can we learn to see the world in new ways, find amusing anecdotes and gossip to steal for use in our stories, or learn how different people act (and how badly they dance) when they’re roaring drunk?
So I’m going to steel myself, straighten my back, and march on into all those other parties. And who knows? It might even be a little bit fun.
Leanne Yong is an aspiring author who is working on her second young adult novel. Check out her blog at Clouded Memories for more information and a journal chronicling her latest foray into novel writing.