I CONFESS, I panicked this weekend knowing that I had to write a post for this blog and do it quick, yet I had nothing. In fact, I went to the lake last week to be outdoors; all those picnics, hikes, and lakes put me in the best mood to write. As I wrung out a few ideas one thing clearly kept me from finishing a first draft - a big fat fly that taunted me every few minutes as I tried to finish brainstorming and eating a picnic lunch.
|THERE'S ONLY ONE WAY TO KILL A PESTERING FLY WHEN I'M WRITING!|
Try to get my food, yeah - you get swatted away quick. But interrupt my train of thought? BAM! You’re dead. Finally, I got him and he met his maker. No more interruptions, I thought. The sunlight beamed through the tree branches, a fish jumped in the water, and the world was at peace again.
WHATEVER YOU DO, JUST DON'T KEEP ME FROM WRITING!
Let me put it to you this way, if you live with a writer – first, you have my support and some sympathy. It takes a special person to keep loving and take the extra time interpreting their mood of the day and still make it through without needing serious therapy yourself. Perhaps you have to endure one or probably all of these famous traits of writers:
|YOU DO KNOW ABOUT 'WRITERS", DON'T YOU?!|
1/ Lets get one thing perfectly clear – YOU WILL END UP IN A STORY OR BOOK AT SOME POINT. Even if your beloved writer changes your name, town, vocation. It doesn’t matter. Somewhere in a tome they write you will see yourself described perfectly and there’s not a damn thing you can do about it. If you pack up and leave now – that act will also be in some ‘cad-who-left-me’ romance novel. You’re doomed no matter which way. Your soul just becomes immortalized – that's all. It’s okay. It’s just a story. They still really love you. Just accept it and be you.
|I CAN STILL TASTE YOU....I WROTE ABOUT IT TOO|
2/ Your writer might be ‘the quiet one’ in that bunch of friends. It’s not that we are social recluses (well, never mind), it is just that they may have been in the middle of a pivotal chapter and reluctantly stopped it to come to the party, but they know that the rest of that great scene is sitting around their laptop and tapping fingers impatiently waiting for their return to finish it. How dare they go to a party before it’s done! Believe me; I’ve been accused of writing in my head at parties sometimes. ‘Uh…….there she goes……writing that book in her head.’
3. If you’re talking to a writer and they suddenly seem to be peering into another world with greater interest, don’t take it too personally. It’s not that you’re boring. Actually the opposite, they probably got an idea for a great story or novel from something you said and were off writing it already in their heads. If you can look into their eyes and see her dancing in a fountain for an audience, pat yourself on the back for being an inspiration!
|HONEY, ARE YOU EVEN LISTENING?|
Or maybe, yes, you are boring and your writer is distracted like the recluse in #2.
4. It could be the folks at the table next to you that gave your story-teller the spin. Writers are super curious creatures and practice eavesdropping faithfully.
|THEY WILL NEVER KNOW I UNDERSTAND ITALIAN. HE!|
5. Your shared living space becomes a library. I lie not! Show me one writer in this world who doesn’t come with book shelves that are already full and the rest of your furniture somehow artfully balances a new stack of books. The true addict has stacks on the floor as well, and it’s their secret way of making an obstacle course to find them much later in the night as they pound away on the keys.
|I ONLY HAVE A FEW BOXES OF BOOKS TO KEEP.|
4. They make strange bedfellows. You could be minding your own business somewhere in the house and suddenly your writer slinks up to you, knocks you down, ravishes you, then kisses you, thanks you, and then goes back to writing. THAT – my friend is one of the perks! That means your writer just finished a successful love scene so much that they were consumed with passion and YOU were the lucky bastard nearby. Or sometimes the writer needs you as the guinea pig in a passionate scene act-out, needing to experience first-hand new twists in the tryst, watches your expression with interest, and they often suggest new romantic evening setups. They need dirt and emotions to describe in their love scenes. Don’t argue why. Just leave it alone and enjoy the occasional rewards for putting up with them. You’ll read about it later anyway for a replay.
5. Feeding your writer can be tricky business. It’s one extreme or another. Either your writer is superstitious enough to demand a sacred meal routine to inspire their thought process, and you have to comply or live with the dog in the shed. Or – at the opposite side of the stick - Meal times may be erratic with some writers. Writing makes them hungry, and if they were writing for hours, don’t be surprised if dinner time is at 1am. I am famous for late night trips to the diner after a writing spree.
|HE JUST FINISHED A BOOK, SO KEEP THE LAMB FRIES COMING!|
Tip: Pancakes usually do the trick, a ‘safe-food’ peace offering to turn your ravenous and tired zombie back to the placated writer that you loved.
|PJs AND PANCAKES - PERFECT AT 1AM!|
6. Writers know their way around by navigating with coffee shops or book stores, knowing about every single one within 50 mile radius, maybe 100 miles. Bet on it. Name a town and they will say ‘Oh! I know a great little bookstore on Main Street!”
New town to explore? They will sniff one out and YOU WILL VISIT THAT PLACE!
|A BOOKSTORE IN FAIRBANKS, ALASKA? I KNOW THAT SHOP!|
7. NEVER EVER RUN OUT OF COFFEE IN THE HOUSE! I can’t even……….just don’t.
8. They were truly born that way. Always encourage your writer to keep going. They can’t help it. REAL WRITERS CANNOT STOP WRITING, even if they suck at it. Even if they take a break and swear writing to the tenth hell, the characters in their head will climb out of that dark pit and find them again. It could take an hour from then or a few years. But your word-burner will be found and enslaved again to their journal or laptop. They suffer strange fits of passionate highs and sea depth lows. They really can’t help it. If a scene isn’t going well, it could plague them for days. And you will dwell in it with them to some extent.
|I HAVE TO FINISH THIS CHAPTER BEFORE THE BUFFALO COME!|
9. Writers are better detectives than PI’s and the CIA. They are deep into research, read novels for tips and most precise dialect changes, weave the slightest goriest details into their tale for effect and can pick up the same little tricks in other novels to often figure out the outcome of the book better than any other avid reader. They can be nosy and often ask questions about something you may not have thought about. Let them do it. Just read their stuff later on to find out why they asked that strange question to the old lady at the gun shop.
10. For the same reasons as #9, many writers are good judges of people, probably more attuned than a lot of therapists or cops. All are very curious, often nosy and watch for the slightest details in books, novels, peoples’ habits to use in novels to keep it real. And they constantly people watch, studying body language so they can use it later on. The ‘vibes’ they pick up on people are also found in their stories later. You have already been analyzed so breath and relax now.
|(NO WORDS NEEDED)|
11. Their minds are like having 100 tabs open on the internet at the same time. In fact, they probably DO have that many tabs open right now. Most are for research, and you may find some disturbing topics on them. Don’t worry about finding some topics regarding cannibalism or gun cleaning 101. Other tabs are blogs (either your writer’s or other peoples’), some are editing how to’s, and then there are the other 85% of them – those distracted writers’ time wasters while they suffer writers block.
12. Never put too many expectations on your writer. Just because they go to a writer’s conference or has lunch with an editor does NOT MEAN THEY WILL GET A BOOK DEAL. Repeat after me: THAT DOES NOT MEAN THEY WILL WALK AWAY WITH A BOOK DEAL. They may want one. But it just means that they are trying to perfect their craft, make some connections, have some fun, fume and cry with other writers, probably drink, and then come home inspired to write. Keep your day job and just smile even if they say their new book idea will put you both in the sweet life. Don’t believe them. Learn the industry, encourage them to do their best and network, but never put them into the frying pan before it’s time.
|I FINISHED ONE WHOLE CHAPTER! ONLY TOOK ME 3 YEARS! CHEERS!|
13. Speaking of alcohol, most do drink some. Some drink a lot. Some become drunks. Most just write and cry. Then drink. It’s either caffeine, booze or both. Truth. Next point.
|MAYBE I SHOULD JUST OPEN A VINEYARD INSTEAD OF WRITING THAT BOOK!|
14. Most writers have cats. Most. Or a dog. I don’t. I’m not normal but it’s not because I don’t want one. But because my desk is often a picnic table. Or my lap. A café table. I’m not home much. But furry friends ALWAYS make it into the stories and novels – with you.
15. They do often talk to themselves. It could be to talk out some dialogue, telling themselves how brilliant they are, or telling themselves how pitiful they are and why did they continue to write, or the mumblings of someone insane. Don’t call the army of white coats yet. All of the above are normal for writers.
|WHAT IS SHE WHISPERING ABOUT NOW?|
16. Chores and life sometimes get in the way of their writing time, or even quality time. Learn a hobby. You will spend some time alone.
17. Which brings me to the final point. Don’t interrupt them when they have their nose over the laptop, saying or mouthing the words as they type or long-hand, steam coming out their ears and sweat on their brow, they’re crying, drinking or swearing as they write – in that order. Just let them get that fit out of their system. They will lose sleep, they will spend money on books and conferences and probably a few self-pubs crates to slowly sell or give away from the garage over their lifetime. But for the sake of your life and those of loved ones – NEVER KEEP THEM FROM WRITING!
They will come back to you – I promise.
It can be done – living with a writer. It’s been sung about, used in clinical studies and statistics, sometimes became the basis of many therapy groups, and even written about. Oh that’s right! That WAS you - immortalized in a novel in some sort of way - believe it!
|I COULD NOT HAVE DONE IT WITHOUT YOU!|
Now it’s 2am and I’m hungry after writing this. I need some pancakes and a carafe of coffee.