Tuesday, April 19, 2011

5 Reasons Not to Get Married to a Writer

So you've fallen in love with a writer, and you're wondering if you ought to tie the knot. Consider whether  you can live with the following five things for the rest of your life:

1) Altered States
You saunter up to his office chair, trail your hand along his shoulder and place a few meaningful kisses in the fine hairs on the back of his neck. He pulls away from you and mumbles "What do you want?" What the heck just happened? He loved you madly a few hours ago. You have caught your lover in an altered state - the state of writing. When you read a book - a good book - you are transported to another time and place. If your lover were to walk in the room naked while you were reading, say, the penultimate chapter of Mockingjay, you might not notice. Not right away. Similarly, the writer is transported to another time and place when he writes. In fact, the writer might even be temporarily wearing the skin of a twelve year old boy who's having an intense argument with his mortal enemy.

2) Long Hours
Workaholic, schmeraholic. A writer's work is never done. Not ever. There's no nice, convenient 9-5 hours. The writer is always noticing small details to weave into her next scene, or thinking about the revising she did that morning and wondering if that one line is really strong enough for the end of a chapter. You might be having a romantic dinner, or watching reality TV or even getting frisky, but your writer is still writing. Always. And she might dart away from the dinner table (or worse, jump out of bed in the middle of the night) because she just figured out how to get those two characters into the same room at the same time.

3) Conversations With Thin Air
Both writers and psychotics hear voices. The difference is the writer responds to them. Wait, so does the psychotic. Okay, so the difference between writers and psychotics is.... Oh, I know! The writer gets paid to hear voices. And talk back to them. And then type all of it up.

4) Secrets & Lies
Your writer-spouse lies. Professionally. And she can be incredibly secretive about those lies. You might be walking past the office and hear her saying something conversationally (see #3, above). So you say, "What's going on with your characters now?" You might even add a small, patient smile. "Oh, it's complicated," she'll reply and click the power button on her monitor so you can't read what she's been writing. And getting to read a first draft? Forget about it. She'll show her motley crew of critique partners, but she won't show you, her beloved. No way. You'll be lucky if she lets you read the ARC.

5) Sharing  
You think that wedding ceremony means your writer is now all yours? Think again. Writers belong to a whole host of other people, both real and imagined. There are the characters, of course. He's madly in love with them. He has to be, considering how many hours he spends with them. And then there's the agent who really, really gets him. And then there's the editor who makes him feel like he's one in a million. Oh, and don't forget his adoring fans! The ones who tweet him and leave earnest messages on his Facebook page.

The truth is, it will all be worth it. It really will. Your writer will charm and entertain you. Your writer will be empathetic to your struggles and strife like it was an Olympic sport. Your writer will gladly listen when you want to whine, will laugh when she finds out the puppy has shredded her favorite bathrobe and will happily go on that ill-advised camping trip in the pouring rain because it will all be good fodder for the novel.


  1. Very funny. Really. I can totally relate to this and feel pretty sorry for my husband sometimes. He's a good sport about it though.

  2. It's all true. Oh God, it's ALL true!

    ---a writer's wife

  3. I married a writer, and then lo and behold, I turned into one!