I came across this gem of a quote earlier on Twitter. Timely as all get out, too, because I woke up with this blog post hammering away at my brain. It’s quite funny, actually, to think about it. I have tons of writer friends, even two of my siblings write in varying degrees, and I am constantly meeting other writers, published, non-published, self-published etc. most of them online. I’m sure this has been covered before, but it never hurts to write my own take on it, right?
To me, it seems like we all share a few common things. A love of creativity, a desire to tell stories, a NEED for escapism, to name a few. I have noticed that there are a few things that we all share above and beyond those basic things, and I had to examine it further.
Beyond having friends who I’ve noticed these common traits in, I live with a non-writer. If I’m gonna be honest, he’s a non-reader as well, but only because he takes advantage of audio books instead of hard copies due to his job demands. I feel kind of bad for him, as not only does he have to deal with my neurotic crap, and my ‘being a hormonal twenty-something female’ crap, he also has to deal with living with a writer and all the baggage and insanity that comes with that. And let’s not even get started on the get-togethers I sometimes attend (AND HOST) with other writers.
But all right, you’ve found a person you like. You might be in a serious relationship with them. Or maybe you’re just roommates or best friends. No matter how you came to end up like this, you are now living with, or at the very least, socializing heavily with a writer. What do you need to know and what can you do about it?
1. Be prepared to be ignored for extended periods of time.
It’s got nothing to do with you, specifically. Trust me on this. You’re probably a great person, witty and intelligent and able to carry on conversations about all manner of topics, and that’s great. But writers are elusive at the best and reclusive at the worst. When we get a thought into our brains, or we know there’s a deadline, prepare yourself for lonely days in front of the TV eating microwavable meals for one. There’s no stopping that flow of creativity, and usually it is better to create alone than while being distracted. Once the fever is gone, you’ll be back in our good books. This also rings true for any friends or relatives who are involved int he writer’s life. Don’t be surprised if your writer friend disappears for weeks on end.
2. Reality is an unfortunate side effect of living that we don’t particularly trust.
Remember when I mentioned escapism? Yeah, we’re all prone to that. Things in real life tend not to fascinate us the way they fascinate you. It’s either that or we see things differently. You might see a rock, we see a petrified dragon egg awaiting the blood sacrifice of a tyrant given by the third heir to the throne and we will run with it. Just let us have our way with things. Maybe come with us? You’ll never know what it’s like till you let us bring you.
3. Nothing is important besides the words and caffeine(/alcohol/nicotine etc.)
No seriously. You will have to remind us to eat, sleep, and probably be forced to take over the cooking and cleaning. If you have pets, ha, good luck. You’ll have to walk Fido and feed Bubbles the Goldfish because when that fever gets hold of a writer, there’s nothing more important than getting the words out. I have had food unexpectedly brought to me when I’ve been sequestered in my office for 8+ hours in a day and haven’t eaten anything. It is always appreciated, and it’s also really nice to know that someone cares enough to bring us food and make sure that we’re not dead. My vice is caffeine, so wherever I set up my camp (sometimes I work in the kitchen) I am sure to have various caffeinated beverages on hand. Just be prepared to take in in stride and know that things will go back to ‘normal’ when the need to finish the writing subsides.
4. You will have to deal with either OCD levels of cleanliness or “Perpetual Bachelor” levels of messiness.
There’s very little in between. I’m a neat freak, usually. Messes and clutter annoy me and I prefer to have a place for everything and everything in its place. Unfortunately, I live with kind of a slob, so there is a lot of head-butting about it. And if there’s clutter in my office, there will be hell to pay.
5. Your day is nowhere near as exciting as whatever we’re doing at the time.
Again, this isn’t a personal thing, but having a conversation over dinner about how you had to do ten hours of bullshit data entry just isn’t as appealing (or as amusing) to us writers as whatever novel we’re reading or writing at the time. This is doubly true for writers who don’t have to do much of anything else but write. And I apologize.
This is really just the tip of the iceberg, so feel free to add your own in the comments. These ones are really the big ones you would have to deal with if you were living with me.
Kai Kiriyama is available to chat on twitter @thekiriyamaheir or through email at firstname.lastname@example.org
Kai currently lives in Alberta and writes for Zombie Training Magazine.