We’re cute, we’re cuddly and it’s fun to tell your friends and family that your new boo is a writer—the title just smacks of microphone-in-your-face, get-to-the-bottom-of-it, Geraldo-like action, no? But being in a relationship with a novelist, journalist or author is really a test of any non-editorial person’s love, patience and good common sense. I can admit that we have a few quirks and habits that might seem a bit off-putting, maybe even a skosh annoying, to the average corrections officer or lab technician or corporate attorney or seventh grade science teacher. Be ye forewarned with this random list, oh ye ladies and gents who don’t make your living with words, and love us anyway. Pretty please?
10. We turn everything into a running piece of narrative. No, it’s not weird when we say things like “Janelle dashed from the depths of the store just in time to whisk the parking ticket from the meter maid’s clutches” out loud. In fact, you should be flattered to be party to what is obviously going to be part of a best-seller—if we could ever write, like and complete an entire page of prose.
Just a taste of my magazine mania around the house
9. We keep every magazine, every book, every project, everything (except the receipts we need for tax purposes). I’ve never really researched it, but I’m pretty sure I haven’t thrown away a magazine since I was in my freshman year of college. How can I part with an issue of Suede or Honey or even that ancient, yellowed Essence passed down to me from my mom when I caught her trying to throw out her old, unwanted mags? Musicians don’t toss away old albums and writers would sooner trash a five-star hotel room than a perfectly readable piece of print, even if we know deep inside we’ll probably never part its pages open again.
8. We accept periods of poverty as part of the unique design of our calling. Because we’re willing to suffer for our art, because we’re so creatively complex and hard to understand in a Pablo Picasso cubism sort of way and because life in the media industry can be a cruel and fickle beast, we can’t accept or keep just any ol’ job. It has to be a right fit. It has to contribute to our body of work. It has to be a stepping stone to something greater because chances are pretty good we won’t be there longer than six months to a year anyhow. C’est le vie. A true writer knows how to live off of Ramen noodles and tea.
7. You may have your grammar corrected and editorial faux pas served to you on a platter. Don’t get mad when we remind you that “you’re” should actually be “your” in the letter you scrawled out to the landlord or that it should actually be “Janelle and I hate your $%#@& guts” when you’re hurling death threats to the neighbor with the noisy dogs. We support you, but we just think good grammar makes your point all the more powerful.
My makeshift “workspace” in the living room
6. Every room in the house is our office. There are pen marks on the sofa, printouts on the kitchen counter, digital recorders in the bed. Our better halves may have to doze off to the pounding of our laptop keying at nighttime or avoid disturbing the stack of magazines placed strategically for our access from either the toilet or the bathtub, but you would be well-advised not to move anything from its original location. We’re just about to use whatever it is you’re thinking about moving.
5. We need some alone time every now and again (or if things are going good, a little more often). Don’t take it personal. We’re not vying for some Ernest Hemingway-type seclusion but your presence is mighty distracting from the masterpiece at hand. Hit the lights on the way out, will ya? All we need is the glow of our monitors to guide this ship to shore.
4. We write mini-novels inside the blank insides of birthday and anniversary cards. Please read and keep them. It’s in your best interest since they may be referenced later on down the line.
Who has time for hair brushing and makeup when the thoughts and words are flowing?
3. Our schedule revolves around our creative ebbs and flows. Yes, this is the same T-shirt we slept in. No, we haven’t combed our hair yet today. And so what it’s 5:43 in the evening? Creative breakthroughs don’t run on timers. Meals, appointments and personal grooming all take a backseat when that rare alignment of perfect word choice and creative inspiration falls fresh from the benevolent writing gods. Don’t wait up.
2. Nothing spells love like reading our stuff. Damn the bunches of flowers—did you read our new blog post? It’s like us balling in the NBA and expecting to see you grinning at courtside, so if you haven’t clamored to show your number one fan-dom over our latest column or clicked the link to an article we sent to you, you couldn’t possibly adore us. We want reaction. We want feedback. We want to give you grief when you challenge something we said and then bring it up multiple times throughout the evening.
1. We will write about you in some form or fashion. My boyfriend can attest: I’ve written about debates we’ve had as a couple, situations he’s bested at the job, comments he’s made in casual conversation and thought “hmm, that would make a good article/blog/book/story.” Consider yourselves our muses, our inspiration, the hot plate dishes in our buffet of creativity. Don’t get all in a tizzy when we write a health article about that weird toe that’s vying for control of your left foot or if an argument you’ve had with your mother becomes a thinly veiled piece of dialogue in our latest novel. It just means that we think you’re great enough to want to share you with the world. Or we’re just pimping your experiences for a nice, fat check. Either/or.