So, I’ve been getting asked a lot about my dating life (or lack thereof) by my rather large collection of adoptive yiayias and papous since I’m in Seattle right now. None of them are pushy because they’ve known me since I was six weeks old, they’d just like to know if I’m happy. When I tell them I’m single and happy with my life with the exception of wanting a bit more time to write (which is why I’m in Seattle). I’ve also met my sister/friend Morgan’s fiance (I approve) and started to talk about her wedding with her as well as just spent time being three-years-old with her. All this talk about dating, weddings, and the like has made me think of some of my quirks. Now, I will tell you, readers-mine, that all writers are different, but these are some of the oddities me and my many writer friends share.
We can’t help it.
I was asked the other day what I would do if I were given a time-limit of one year to live. My answer: I would travel and I would write. I would travel because it inspires me. I would write because I can’t help it. When I’m trying to think things through, I write. When I am trying to express myself, I write. When something good happens, I write. When something bad happens, I write. That’s just how I’m wired. Some writers will disagree with what I’m going to say next, but many writers prefer written communication to talking on the phone and I am among them. I would prefer you to email me, IM, or text me. If you want to talk, I prefer Skype to phone and if we’re talking on the phone, I will put you on speaker because if inspiration hits I don’t want anything in my hand or next to my face.
We need time alone.
This does not mean that you are not interesting. We’re dating or married to you. We adore you and we will show you this in all sorts of ways. You’ll get love notes/poems/tributes for special occasions or just because. Unfortunately, just because we love you, doesn’t mean that we can write with you in the room. Writing is a solitary activity. Yes, we can go to a coffee shop and write often, but this means that we typically have headphones or are doing research into different ways that people speak or move. It doesn’t mean that we’d rather be with other people when we write. Imagine doing something totally ridiculous like exercise videos with bizarre stances in them or trying to solve super complex math problems while we’re talking to you (even sporadically). Writing takes concentration and you’re just too distracting. Take it as a compliment that we can’t write with you in the room.
We are often short on money or have another job that we love which pays the bills (however, this job typically only barely covers the bills).
I am a writer and a teacher. I write novels. I write poems. I write songs. I write blog posts. None of this is part of my job as a high school English teacher/club advisor/essay editor. However, they are work. When I talk about my job, you’ll find that I talk about the people involved. I will talk about “my kids,” not my paperwork. When I say, “I’m working” and can still talk to you, I’m likely taking a break from my teacher-based activities. When I say, “I’m working” and then stop talking completely, I’m writing. Don’t bother me if you want to keep all of your body parts/ego in tact.
Sometimes we smile and nod, but we’re not really listening.
Don’t be offended. It’s not that we weren’t interested in what you were saying. It’s more likely that we have just discovered that time travelling Elves who eat steak while arguing with a space alien is the perfect way to fix a plot hole that we have been trying to correct for a while in our novel about psychic children on Mars who are trying to ship Christmas presents to children on Earth. It’s nothing against you.
We carry writing implements everywhere and will stop to jot down notes when our Muse pokes us.
On average, I carry 1-2 notebooks, 15 or so pens, my laptop, and my phone with me. If inspiration strikes, I’ve got to write it down. I’m not one of those people who can only write when inspired, but if something is inspired, I need to get it down immediately or it will fly away. Much as I may love you, I will not be a happy person if I haven’t gotten my writing done and I will be grumpy with you.
Tea/coffee is it’s own food group.
I used to drink 4-5 pots of tea a day. (Yes, I’m from Seattle and hate coffee). I am now down to 1-2 pots a day. Tea makes me happy. It soothes me. It wakes me up. It makes me smile. I will forget to have anything (including tea) if I’m on a major writing streak. I often realize late at night that I haven’t eaten or had a drink for 8-12 hours.
If we’re on a real creative streak, we will forget to eat or only eat something if it is within reach and is easy.
I love to cook, but if I’m writing, nothing will get made or eaten unless someone reminds me. When I’m not in Writing Mode, I will make you elaborate meals and eat fruit constantly. I adore oranges, but they’re sticky on computer keys with the juice. Peel one and hand it to me. I will eat it with joy and will keep me from getting sick. It will be much appreciated and will show you this as soon as I’m done.
There will be long stretches of time where we don’t see the sun.
Along with forgetting about food, I will often realize well after dark that a day has disappeared. Schedule something with me so I don’t start writing when we should be spending time together. I love being outside, this is why I’m in Seattle writing on the porch or down at the beach each day. If you notice that I am ghostly pale in colour, please take me out for a walk, a day at a fair, a hike, a beach day, or a swim. I will thank you for it after, even if I whine about it initially.
Our schedules are a bit wacky.
Part of being a writer is having a inspiration strike at all hours. I often fall asleep writing because I have spent 6-16 hours writing. I never write for less than an hour a day and that is often after a 16 hour work day. After I write, I will want to spend time with you, not before. A writer who hasn’t written anything is going to be a distracted girlfriend/wife/lover. That’s just how it goes. Once I get to a point where I can hang out with people, I will spend my time with you. After you go to bed, I will probably write some more.
Writers are a touch crazy.
I don’t mean crazy as in delusions, but our imaginations will run wild. We will have intense dreams/nightmares. Being a writer means that you can get inside other people’s heads and other people get into yours (fictitious people count here). You will hear frustrated statements like “Character X won’t talk to me!” and we will expect you just to accept it and say, “That sucks. What was going on when they stopped talking to you?” Our characters are our friends. When they die, we will be sad. When they are happy, we will be happy. We will take perverse joy in tormenting our characters (because it would be the world’s most boring story if we weren’t somewhat horrible to our leads). We will have struggled at some point in our lives and our characters will reflect our struggles as well as those of our friends, family, enemies, or people we have never met. If your writer is social, many of our friends will be artistic, a touch unusual, and often are a variation on unstable in some way. This means that we are often the most accepting people. We love going outside of ourselves, so we tolerate all sorts of ideas and people easily and happily. Because of this, we often actually have great social skills and are definitely the date you want to bring to a party. The other positive of being a touch nutty is we come up with creative solutions to problems. If we can’t solve it on our own, you will never have to wonder what’s going on in our minds. We’ll communicate ad nauseum–possibly in conversation, writing, text, IM, or any other number of forms–after a period of silence and thinking. We will need to hash it out with friends and/or you and we may need to hash it out multiple times. Let me just take this time to apologize in advance, but honestly, would you want to read anything written by someone who is average or normal in all ways. Besides, you know we’ll always keep you on your toes.
Writers are dramatic and typically like to talk and/or listen to other people talk.
We are dramatic. We will not admit how dramatic we are because we, really and truly, will not realize when we’re being dramatic until after. Also, we love stories. It’s why we are writers. This means that we will love telling stories, but we are also good listeners. Everything in life is research, so when we ask questions, we’re not trying to interrupt or be rude, we’re just trying to understand things more thoroughly. That said, when we tell you something, we don’t want you to solve it. Writing is more about the journey than it is about the ending. If it wasn’t, books would be mad short. We want to share the journey with you.
We will always have opinions on things and will often be interested in things you may have never thought about.
Go with the odd ideas of things to do. You may like it, but if not, it’ll at least be something new to try. Writers are often well-educated and should be well-read. We are naturally curious people and typically adventurous. This means that we will want to experience new things, travel, and meet new people. Even if we decide we don’t like something or someone, we will always be glad that we tried something different. We would love to have you along for the ride or for you to take us along on some of your adventures.
You will probably find a trait or quirk that is familiar in our work.
Yes, your positive or negative traits may show up. No, that’s not something to worry about. If we have a strong emotion about you, references will show up. When you really need to worry is when you can’t recognize yourself anywhere in our work. If we love you, you will show up in writing we love. If you think that you are the villain in the piece, either we don’t love you or you need a lot of therapy.