If you are about to step onto that mysterious ship of relationships, the one code-named HMSS Love A Writer, and it has not yet been brought to your attention that a writer is a creature as different from the average person as a photographer is to all other visual creators, then there are some things you might want to know — even as you know the average person is but a figment of the imagination of shadowy creatures who have day jobs as public policy makers, statisticians, researchers, economists and financial advisors.
Writers have many relationships simultaneously — with the lovers that come and go, or the ever-evolving relationship with the one and only who stays. If your writer does not yet write full time for a living, there are other relationships: coworkers, bosses, clients; editors, designers; family and friends and pets. That’s not to mention their relationship with self and multiple aspects thereof, or unhealthy relationships with chocolate, or exercise or mind-altering substances and activities or shopping or books, or the newest viral video of the day. Writers might have many relationships across the length and breadth and depth of their one and precious life. Or just one main ones: with writing and with you. Everything and everyone else is peripheral. You need to know this.
Then there’s a writer’s relationship with the world. The world they watch and wonder about and make connections with for reference or ideas, or to help craft some future sentence or paragraph in an as-yet unwritten story. Wonderings of the eternal, internal observer in the writer, watching the world and taking it in, preparing to put it through the writering mill to transform it all into words. You need to know this, too: when it’s of interest to a writer, everything is watched and recorded in some way that could one day, come out in a storyline.
Other relationships are less obvious: the ones writers see and imagine. The relationships with their stories; the conversations with unicorns or strange characters who live in a writer’s head, taking up mindshare along with notions of story and plot and questions.
Then there’s the writing process. Some writers are disciplined enough to set a schedule for their writing time and stick to it. Enquiring minds want to know right now: Who are those writers? Others write when they have something to write about or are on deadline. Either way, it’s writing time and it’s solitude time and not everyone in the world understands how it works that writing time. It’s alone time. The writer. Her world. Or his. The keyboard.
Some writers have a dress code — wear something of one’s partner: hat, T-shirt, robe. Make sure that you are okay with this. Some are sloppy and spill stuff. Some write with music, others need quiet. Some write only after the sun has gone down. The process is quite individual. You might want to do a trial run to see if you can live with it.
Not everyone is cut out to be a partner of someone who’s well-being depends on being able to write, on having that alone time, that solitude time for writing and thinking. And let it be said that not every writer is prepared or able to balance writing with being in relationship with another living, breathing human being. Not every writer is prepared or able to consider needs of another person, either. You definitely need to know that.
Some writers are calm, cool and altogether quite reliable, regular, everyday people. Some aren’t. Some do spreadsheets. Some can’t organize themselves to get up in the morning. Some writers throw themselves into unhealthy situations with other people as a way to entice the muse either through emotional ecstasy or misery because that’s what they believe they need to experience in order to write, or because they don’t know any better.
It takes a special person to be in relationship with a writer. Well, with someone who creates any sort of thing actually; but, a relationship with a writer, who writes stories, where everything in that writer’s life is fodder for the writering process, requires a special person.
Along the course of your relationship, you will hear some if not all of the following just as you are about to leave for dinner with friends, or on your way to the hospital for the birth of your first baby, or when the walk needs shovelling:
“Honey, I’m writing.” or:
“I can’t write. What was I thinking that I could write anything?” or:
“Wait! I have to write that down.” or:
“What do you think? Could you take a look at this?” or the dreaded:
“I was thinking about….” which then launches the two of you into a conversation that will end up somewhere in print.
Such is the price of loving a writer.
If you decide to share your love and your life with a writer, or someone wanting to be a writer, who is actively working to be a paid, published writer/author, you get to live life a little sideways, shared with words and sentences and conversations you will simply not ever have with someone who is not a writer. You will experience life in a different way, you will witness and participate in a creative process that you, a non-writer, might not have considered existed because a writer makes you look at the world and your place in it. A writer makes you think. A writer takes you places. At least a writer who loves you. And that’s in addition to all the wonder and wacky grind of the love and life stuff.
But that’s only if you decide that you will love a writer.