The more I connect with other writers, the more I realize that as a group we share certain traits. We play nicely with each other because we baffle our friends and families. I tried to imagine what it must be like for my husband and children, trapped in the house with a writer. I don’t envy them. Here’s why:
Writers are easily distracted
I used to say I had “Mommy Moments” but it’s not really fair to blame motherhood. I had to turn the car around a block from home to assure myself I closed the garage door long before I had kids. In the past week I’ve left my car keys on a counter, neglected to bring in the groceries, left the back door unlocked (though I did set the alarm), and burned a grilled cheese sandwich beyond recognition. My excuse? While my body is in 2011, my mind is in 1916.
Writers may forget to eat
They may also forget that they are in charge feeding everyone else until it is six in the evening and someone asks the inevitable question. “What’s for dinner?”
Writers are selfish
lack of a real office, though in all fairness it is pretty quiet around here during the work/school week.
Writers are poor
Very few of us will ever make a living wage from our writing. We must either work a day job and steal time from our families to write, or rely on our spouses to support us. Neither option is ideal.
Writers come with unpredictable muses
Those muses may remain silent during our regular writing time and wake us at 3:00 AM. They may speak to us in the middle of a meal, while waiting at a stoplight, or while listening to our children talk about their day. We can’t help it.
Writers are slightly nuts
We hear voices. Enough said.
Writers often appear to be daydreaming
No one but another writer understands that staring out the window is part of the job description. Zoning out in the middle of a conversation is an occupational hazard as well. Please don’t take it personally. It’s not you. It’s us.
Writers are anti-social
Most of us are hermits and loners. Some of us can be extroverts when the occasion calls for it, but we would likely much rather be left alone. If I don’t have a few hours of complete solitude several times a week I become anxious and irritable. That’s not always fun for those who share a house with me.
Writers are slobs/neat freaks
Okay, I don’t know if this is everyone, but it certainly applies to me. When my writing is going well, I live in sweats and a T-shirt and the house has no flat surface without clutter. Laundry baskets will be full, dishes will pile in the sink, and I don’t recommend that anyone venture into the master bathroom. When I’m stuck, I declare war on the dust bunnies, and my kitchen is sparkling. My poor kids never know if I will get after them to pick up their stuff.
Writers are always observing
No one is safe! We eavesdrop on conversations We store away images of fashion blunders. We ruthlessly steal cute lines from our kids or have our characters rehash an argument we had with our spouses. We scan other people’s bookshelves or music collections. We ask nosy questions. We read everything.
I’m very glad I don’t live with a writer! If you live with one, or are one, and I left something out, please clime in! How many of these fit you?