After the little issue with the summer fling I wrote about here, I got to thinking about the pros and cons of dating a writer. And then I got to thinking about the perfect partner for a writer. If you’ve got your eye on anyone crazy enough to list their occupation as ‘Writer’, or are already married to someone of such dubious sanity, you might want to read the following pointers before suggesting a date ….. or a divorce:
1. Accept that you’ll be written about, and it won’t always be good. Yes, those are your dog-eaten brown bedroom slippers on page 10 of the manuscript your partner is always yammering on about, yes, that is your habit of scratching the back of your left shoulder while you sleep, on page 15. No, it doesn’t mean anything that the protagonist eventually murders the snoring shoulder-scratcher, or that your writer-partner has given them halitosis in said manuscript. Get more familiar with tic-tacs and suck it up. You’re not alone here. There are lots of friends, family members and mere acquaintances who will find parts of themselves in your lover’s books. All the same, you might want to keep an eye out for incoming rotten eggs when you’re at the off-licence with said writer, thrown at her by the owner who bears an uncanny resemblance to the dim-witted cross-dresser on page two. Hey, at least she only gave you halitosis. For that alone she deserves your loyalty.
2. Understand that the writing comes first. Period. Don’t get upset if your sweetheart doesn’t want to get a day-job, house or car or go on the date/vacation you planned ages ago while he contemplates his muse. As a matter of fact, be prepared to be alone when the writer eventually decides (and they will!) to give up any other activity altogether and shut themselves away in a locked room for days, weeks or months with a computer and crazy music. This can turn out a number of ways, including with a finished novel, a book deal and a big enough advance so you can both quit the rat race. Share the vision, pay all the bills, and always be ready with hot cups of coffee. Pass any necessary communication (and pictures from the fabulous vacation, done solo) under the door of said locked room.
3. Don’t take it personally. Meaning? Well, let’s say you’re in the middle of a steamy make-out session in anticipation of which you’ve unplugged the land-line, turned off the mobile and ensured alternative accommodation for the kids/dog/ room-mate for a couple hours. Things are hotting up … and then your writer stops and starts fumbling around on the bedside table for …… (sorry guys, it’s not birth control) …..a pen and a notepad to write down the unbelievably delicious plot twist for the dreaded manuscript, which only occurred to her after you started to undress. And five minutes of frenzied scribbling later, said writer is no longer in the mood. As a matter of fact, she’s gonna head to the computer to start weaving in the dratted new plot twist. Do not become murderous when she asks if you would like to make her a cup of coffee while she writes it.
4. Be a perpetual cheerleader. As in, you must accept (post rejection-slips, post shortlist publications and winners announcements and post review publication or beta reading reports)the type of epic meltdowns made famous by Don Music of Sesame Street. Be ready afterwards with encouragement, coffee and your unquestioning agreement that the offending agent/editor/competition judge/critic is shit, doesn’t know what they’re talking about and screwed their way into the position they’re in, lording it over indubitably talented geniuses like your writer. Better yet, intercept rejection slips and offensive mail at the mailbox, shred it and make mulch for the rose-beds. When said writer laments the unresponsiveness of the agents/ competitions he has queried or entered, re-arrange the carefully pruned roses on his writer’s table, plead ignorance, and smile.
5. Get a dog. I mean, no writer has the time, energy or inclination to support, protect and fawn after you – they’re too busy writing. Duh! If you want the kind of love and companionship normal people get in romantic relationships, get an Alsatian. Call her ‘Honey’. And train her to write you the types of love-letters you thought you’d be getting from the writer. Let me know how that goes.