No matter with whom you fall in love, you will have your own set of problems.
Humans are complex creatures, which love makes obvious. For the most part, we all just have to figure it out by trial and error. If, however, you happen to be in love with someone who self-identifies as a writer, here are a few things to remember.
1. Writers are most comfortable when communicating through the written word.
You may feel lonesome when discussions of love or marriage seem one-sided. You may become frustrated when an argument deteriorates into you yelling, while your lover sits in silence. Writers are not always able to immediately say what they think or feel. Talking is a spontaneous action, where words spill out one after the other, with no way of deleting or editing once they have been spoken.
Writing is most often a slow process. A controlled process. A good piece of correspondence to a pen pal may take an hour or two to compose, articles for newspapers take days to put together, and books often take a year or more to write and edit. Don’t worry, the first time your loved one gives you a sealed envelope with a hand-written love letter inside, you will appreciate this patience. If you really want to know how he or she feels, express all your thoughts to them verbally, then allow them some time to think it over and respond. And when they do respond, sometimes through a letter or email, read it carefully. Be assured that this is exactly how they feel.
2. Writers are always present, even when they don’t seem to be.
When you visit a gallery or art show, your beloved may not have much to say. That doesn’t mean they haven’t any opinions. It only means they are waiting until they get home to express them. Everything from punk bands to string orchestras will be thoroughly analyzed and reviewed. Perhaps this review will end up in a magazine or blog, or perhaps only in the writer’s mind, but you better believe they are taking in every sight and sound. They are aware of how these sights and sounds make them feel, and they are even aware of how these feelings make them feel.
Look deep in your lover’s eyes the next time you have a disagreement and you can actually see this process taking place. While you are trying to argue, your partner is mentally listing adjectives that they will later use to describe this very situation. But just because they want to describe every detail of a funeral they have attended, don’t dare think they are any less saddened by the loss. The emotions of a writer run deep. They have to.
3. Writers do not know every word ever.
When in need of a synonym or proper spelling, it only makes sense that you will ask the writer in the room. Words are their passion, their job, their hobby. They know a lot of words, often more than you do. But there is a reason they have thesauruses and dictionaries lying around. They may know a lot of words, but they don’t know them all.
Nothing is more irritating for a writer than when a friend or loved one says something like, “I thought you were a writer? Why can’t you tell me the word I’m trying to remember!?” Instead, when your lover’s suggestions do not appease you, politely ask to borrow their thesaurus or dictionary and look it up your damn self.
4. Writers will write, and they will write about you.
Writers write. It’s what they do. Expect it. Does this give them carte blanche to spill all your family secrets? Of course not. Talk honestly about your boundaries. There are ways for a writer to write freely while respecting your privacy. Your beloved may use real life events to serve as inspiration for fictional stories. They may ask to tell one of your more embarrassing stories as if it were their own, thus allowing a good story to be told while protecting your reputation.
And of course pseudonyms are an oft-used tactic. The goal is not to restrain the flow of creative storytelling, but to ensure that stories are told in a way that protects your relationship. Of course, if you ever break up, all bets are off, so good luck with that.
5. Writers don’t hide their desires, they just disguise them.
Back when I was in film school a teacher told me, “Directors only make films about themselves.” They make films about their own fears, their own interests, their own ambitions.
The same is true of writers, and probably artists of any medium. We write what we know, but we also write what we want to know. Your lover may never play the lottery, but remember that novella about the man who finds buried treasure? Sure would be nice to be rich, right? Sometimes a person’s desires are obvious, sometimes not, but if you read your lover’s words carefully, you will understand him or her in a whole new way. You’ll understand them in the way they wish to be understood.
While there may be similarities and differences between their real-life behavior and the characters in their stories, it is the combination of their life and public personae that creates the person with whom you fell in love. When you fall in love with a writer, you may very well learn to understand them better than they know their self. Feel privileged, because in the long run, you’ll be the only one who really gets it.
Photo from Wikimedia Commons.