In The Land Of The Afflicted

So, the short story will get done, promise, sometime tonight or tomorrow.  I wasted — not quite, but — all of yesterday trying to break into instapundit.  Not that they locked me out on purpose, mind.  They just changed systems and the fact my computer hates me did the rest.  I’m back in, now, but it took some doing.

Anyway, so that leaves me behind on Revenge (a dish best served edited) and with the story still unwritten — though I know it’s about Simon — and with Royal blood to finish, and…

Which brings me to this:

“…writing is antisocial. It’s solitary as masturbation. Disturb a writer when he is in the throes of creation and he is likely to turn and bite right to the bone…and not even know that he’s doing it. As writer’s wives and husbands often learn to their horror.
And – attend me carefully, Gwen! – there is no way that writers can be tamed and rendered civilized. Or even cured. In a household with more than one person, of which one is a writer, the only solution known to science is to provide the patient with an isolation room, where he can endure the acute stages in private, and where food can be poked in at him with a stick. Because if you disturb the patient at such times, he may break into tears or become violent. Or he may not hear you at all…and if you shake him, he bites.”

Robert A. Heinlein
The Cat Who Walks Through Walls

The thing is, mark my words, that Mr. Heinlein never thought of the truly horrible scenario: a household with three writers, or, let us admit, even though he’s not consented to publishing anything yet, four.

It gets very weird.  Not only because there seems to be some commonality to the mind, like there is someone pouring inspiration in buckets and it hits us all at the same time — must the be reason that both Robert and I ended up with characters named Tom who have to sacrifice themselves to escape in the same week — but also sometimes it feels like all these worlds are crowded in the house and you can feel your relatives’ worlds elbow-jostling yours.

Actually that feeling that other minds are too close is one of the most prevalent writers’ characteristics.  Friends who complain their office is too close to the neighbors’ house just make me feel like I’m not so crazy.  The best writing space I’ve ever had stood a floor and a half above all the neighbors.

People — and by people I mean other writers, at conventions — are always stunned that Dan and I can write in the same hotel room during our writing weekends.  Brother, it’s a relief.  It’s just two minds, and we’re fully concentrating on writing.  Except for some very pleasant interludes, we don’t SEE each other.

So, if you’re blessed or cursed with a writer (or more) in the household, here are some tips:

1- If they’re wandering around with this vague and lost look in their eyes?  Stay out of their way.  they’ll walk into you, and then they’ll argue.

2- DO NOT allow them to trap you into an argument.  It’s a ploy to avoid dealing with the story in their heads.

3- If they’re at the kitchen table clutching their heads and mumbling “I hate you so much” it’s not about you.

4- If they tell you they’re broken and will never write again, pat them on the shoulder and give them a soothing beverage.  DO NOT under any circumstances get into an argument over it.  See point 2.

5- If they come to you with a bright and shiny new idea that means they should give up the current work and start a new one, demur.  It COULD be the best idea since Lord of the Rings met Starship Troopers, but if you encourage them they’ll never finish the current one.  Or the new shiny one, either.

6- If they try to argue on 5, remember two, and shove a cat in their lap, then wander off on some REALLY URGENT ERRAND.  Make one up if you have to.

7- If your writer is between projects, watch your mouth.  Robert A. Hoyt’s Ninja Nun came from my mispronouncing Ninja Run.  Yeah.

8- If your writer has decided to give up writing, and what they do as a distraction is clean, let them.  You know damn well he’s going to start another ten projects and the place won’t get cleaned again for two years.  Let them clean for about two weeks, at which point they should be attempting to vacuum the cats and mop the children.  Then drop a few story ideas across their path.

9 – Make sure they eat, drink and shower SOMETIME.  You might not be able to manage all of these every day, but put in some effort.

10- If they just finished a book or a series, let them talk about the characters until they talk themselves out of the people/setting, so they can start a new one.  This is the time for long walks in the park.  DO NOT let them near bonfires, though.  Before anyone sees the manuscript, the temptation to burn it is high.  And burning thumb drivers or computers will get you in trouble with the EPA.  (Making copies of your writer’s product while he’s in the post novel sleep is also a great idea.  Then let him destroy how many copies he wants, until he goes “What have I done?  If only!” Then present him with the printed, copyedited manuscript and a copy of it electronic.  He’ll be fine.  Until the next novel.

162 responses to “In The Land Of The Afflicted

  1. Randy Wilde

    If they tell you they’re broken and will never write again, pat them on the shoulder and give them a soothing beverage.

  2. “…other minds too close…”I understand this perfectly

    • sabrinachase

      Other people want *interaction*. All the time, sometimes! (shudders). I need an Introvert medical alert bracelet… or maybe a service dog trained to keep people away? 😀

      • I think they use Pitt Bulls for that… or Chihuahuas…

        • SheSellsSeashells

          Chinese Crested. People see ’em and give you a wiiiiide berth.

          • There is a lovely Chinese Crested that recently moved into the area. It comes with its companion to the park where I exercise. Lovely dog, great conformation, albeit the fur is not what you normally expect.

    • MadRocketSci

      I wonder if this is more a “people who think deeply about *anything*” thing, and not just a writer thing. After all, I’m like this when working.

      It makes me wonder about all the programmers and engineers being herded into open-plan cattle-pens in Silicon Valley, and why they, of all people, put up with it. Isn’t thinking, actually *thinking* in the working sense of the word, a deeply solitary activity for most of them? How can they do it when they are so crowded?

      Also, what is *with* the sadists who push it on them?

      • madrocketsci

        It might be a writing prompt:

        You’ve probably been hectored before about needing to be well rounded. About needing to be “properly socialized”. This is entirely one-way: No one goes and finds extroverts and nags them about needing to spend time alone. Your precious time where you can get away from other people, shut out the world, and actually think must be won painstakingly from a dissaproving invasive society. It’s almost like they’re desperate to keep you from slipping away. What are they afraid of? What do they fear happening if you should escape their grasp into solitude for a long enough stretch of time?

        • Free-range Oyster

          Reminds me of Tau “suit sickness”.

        • That you will think unapproved thoughts. This is why there’s always music blaring, or tvs, or more likely both, no matter where you go. This is why professors tell students what to think about the materials they study.

          Well, that’s probably too simplistic an answer for a writing prompt, but I bet you can’t refute it!

          • The constant distractions and over-crowded public places are their technique for Harrison Bergeroning us?

            That explains Trump and Sanders, don’t it?

          • Interesting to read that because been listening to Kenny Cheney and new song noise kinda hits similar idea on innundation

          • A friend and I do lunch about once a month. We’re down to a single place where we don’t have to shout over the din of competing TVs and a PA system Muzak.

            The entire concept of “quiet meal” seems to have vanished. And I’m not even tilting at the windmill of having to bring my own flashlight to read the menu.

            • IIRC, high noise levels result in diners eating faster. More table turnover, more income for the business. (Except, perhaps, for would be customers who won’t consider dining there ever again.)

          • Faces along the bar
            Cling to their average day:
            The lights must never go out,
            The music must always play,. . . .
            Lest we should see where we are,
            Lost in a haunted wood,
            Children afraid of the night
            Who have never been happy or good.

            W. H. Auden,

          • Then: Parades, circuses
            Now: Reality TV, sports bars

        • If you don’t give them your attention, they don’t exist.

        • sabrinachase

          This is one of the best explanations I’ve seen, and I have printed out copies to hand out to extroverts in my life 🙂 The bit about “come out and play!” “hiss” makes me giggle every time… http://imgur.com/76HUN

          They want our sweet, sweet energy juices, those extroverts.

        • Catholics traditionally get nagged to spend time alone, praying quietly or thinking. At present, a lot of Catholic extroverts of a certain generation really hate that, and try their best to stamp it out.

        • mad, I recommend having a nice pocketknife and a sharpener, to take out and sharpen, slowly, with as odd a look on your face as you can make while smiling and mumbling “my pretty, my sharrrrrrrrrrrp, pointy, pretty”.
          Works pretty well for me.

      • We all just plug our headphones in and pretend there’s nobody else there to hear us mutter under our breath.

      • I used to work in one of those “cubicle farms”. When focused on coding, I could not only ignore the cubes (and people) around me, I didn’t even notice when someone stepped into my cube.
        IDK whether the significantly smaller cubicles they use now would be a problem for me.

      • FlyingMike

        It’s cheaper.

        Moving from walled offices with doors to 6 foot cube walls saved money; then moving to “collaboration spaces” with four foot cube walls saved more money; then moving to no-cube-walls-work-on-opposite-sides-of-a-big-table saved yet more money.

        And now? “Studies show worker productivity drops with no frigging walls.” Yeah, shocked I am.

      • > sadists

        Half bean-counters who love how much money they can save with bullpens and hot-desking.

        Half poor managers who are afraid nobody will work if they’re not within sight.

        • The death of a company is when somebody from accounting is made CEO. Accountants don’t know how to make money, they only know how to not spend it, which is great as long as you’re still making money.

      • The sadists are usually misguided HR types who think that wide human interaction always enhances creativity. A bunch of regenerate extroverts who think everyone is just like them. Throw all those programmers together in a huge room! Let a thousand flowers bloom!!

        Wait.

        Where did that come from?

        Flashbacks from the pre-Herman Miller partition installation days most likely. (HM helped, just not enough.)

    • Some days I want to lock the office door and hang out a little sign that says, “Dear world, I have interacted with you for $HOURS today. You have exceeded your quota. Come back tomorrow.”

      Usually the day I come straggling home after subbing in the 6th or 7th grade. “Subdued” and “6th graders” are not usually used in the same sentence, unless you are doing a Mutual of Omaha Wild Kingdom parody in response to “So, how did the day go?”

  3. You know, some of these remind me of what it’s like to write software for a living. I do #1 a lot, minus the arguing part — I usually DON’T want a distraction from the logic chain I’m trying to trace in my head. Though if you’re unwise, you’ll ask me about it, and then spend half an hour regretting that decision as I utter sentences only half of whose words are comprehensible as English. And #3 is usually directed at bugs rather than at characters, but we definitely do it too.

    Most of the others I don’t do, but #1 and #3 are definitely programmer traits as well as writer traits. Oh, and #9 too. Which reminds me, I didn’t shower yesterday, so I’m overdue. I’ll be back in a bit.

    • You know, some of these remind me of what it’s like to write software for a living. I do #1 a lot, minus the arguing part — I usually DON’T want a distraction from the logic chain I’m trying to trace in my head.

      This. Or various math problems or troubleshooting, or, with me today, posting facilities the old fashioned way on paper blueprints in preparation to do it electronically.

      “Let’s see. This pole should be at the intersection point of the shadow and the pole on the aerial, and measuring to the next it’s -”

      “Can you come look at this?”

      Sigh. “Okay.”

      A few minutes later:

      “Now, let’s see: That’s 320 feet, and I set the compass . . . sweep it out, Now, the distance from that structure is -”

      “Got a minute?”

      Grumble. “Give me a sec.”

      A few minutes later:

      “Okay. That’s 260 feet, so I set the compass and sweep out from that point and the intersection should be (paused for an expected interruption) the location of the pole. Now to draw it with the template, connect it to the previous pole, and -”

      “Hey,”

      “WHAT?”

      Sometimes I whistle to drown out the incessant conversation nearby. The unnerving thing is the songs I unconsciously pick.

      • sabrinachase

        Is “Let the Bodies Hit the Floor” part of your repertoire? Oh, and you left out the final step where $Boss wanders by and asks why you aren’t done with the original task yet 😀

        I’m in QA and I go on bug hunts all the time. And just when I am doing the code equivalent of wrestling five giant octopuses at once, *somebody* comes up and wants an emergency test setup that is only slightly less complicated than the Taj Mahal. [sound of mental gears grinding] And when I get THAT done, I go back and read the notes in my own handwriting and can’t figure out what I was doing before the interruption…

        • Patrick Chester

          Is “Let the Bodies Hit the Floor” part of your repertoire?

          One! (Nothing wrong with me!)
          Two! (Nothing wrong with me!)

      • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

        Like “Mack The Knife”? [Grin]

        • Well . . . there’s considerable variation. In the last two weeks I’ve found myself whistling:

          If I Only Had a Brain
          The Budweiser jingle, circa 1970s.
          I’d Rather Have a Bottle in Front of Me (Than to Have a Frontal Lobotomy
          I’m Going Slightly Mad
          I’d Love to Knock the H*** Out of You
          I’ll Be Glad When You’re Dead (You Rascal You)
          The Graveyard Blues
          Santa Luca (Was on break)

          Haven’t whistled Farther Along lately.

          Fortunately, the general assumption is that someone who’s whistling is happy.

      • Christopher M. Chupik

        Yeah, some day’s I’d love to sing Shirley Manson’s version of “Samson and Delilah”, but that chorus could get me in lots of trouble . . .

        “If I had my way/I’d burn this whole building down . . .”

      • Kevin, I worked with a woman for some months who sang to herself (off key) or hummed or talked to herself telling herself step by step what to do. I think I’m reasonably sane, now.

        • And what’s wrong with any that? 😉

          • When there’s two people doing this.

          • If I’m working with headphones on I sing. According to Rebecca Lickiss who once worked in a room across from mine (at a workshop) and who tried to kill me when I was writing at 5 am. (I’d just gotten up. she’d just gone to bed. Fortunately I saw her curled-hands reflection on my monitor before they closed on my throat, and she was so tired she allowed herself to be led back to bed. She could ear me, because transoms were missing over the room doors.)

        • I worked with a young lady who would wear headphones to listen to music, until she started singing along…. and her discography started with 2 Live Crew As Nasty As They Wanna Be (explicit) and slid down into the gutter from there…… This was in an office with me, 2 other guys….. and her. We finally lured a female supervisor into the area when she was in full concert and that stopped that.

    • And another programmer trait I’ll mention, which may or may not have overlap with writers. You know how I said “if you’re unwise, you’ll ask me about it”? Well, you might also ask me about it if you actually want to help me. Because just as how you never learn more about a subject than when you’re teaching it, most programmers tend to understand their problems better via the process of explaining them to someone else. This is, amusingly, known as rubber duck problem solving; the phrase was apparently first coined in the 1999 book The Pragmatic Programmer, in which one programmer mentioned that to save wear and tear on his coworkers (who were getting a bit tired of him constantly explaining a problem to them so that he’d understand it better), started keeping a rubber duck in his cubicle — and, when he was stuck, explaining his problem out loud to the rubber duck. (“Out loud” is a key part of this process, as that forces you to pretend that the rubber duck is really a coworker who can hear you — without that pretending, you won’t actually work through the problem well enough to explain it, and you won’t get the flash of insight.)

      • “We’re gonna play the Orvan-is-Stupid game, where I explain this to you until I understand it.”

      • Hadn’t heard it called rubber duck problem solving before, but I’ve solved a lot of co-workers’ problems by letting them explain it to me. Of course I’ve also solved some of my own that way.

        • The rubber duck is better because it doesn’t mind if you stop half-way and say nevermind. Most programmers don’t, either — I will say, Glad I could help, myself — but one would insist that I finish the explanation.

      • The family dog works just as well as a rubber duck. And makes a great audience for practicing presentations, too… as long as you remember to say his/her name every third or fourth sentence. DAMHIKT.

      • My father has long maintained that it’s crucial to write a memo describing each new (technical) idea… because actually writing it down forces you to clarify fuzzy thinking. Especially in places where you *thought* you were thinking clearly. The memo need not be lengthy or super-detailed; just enough to clearly describe the new thing.

        It’s worked well for him, for the students he mentors, and the research labs he’s run. It’s also surprisingly difficult to do.

      • Iirc the brain is tricked by the difference between auditory and visual input. It can be great for editing as can hard copy vs computer

    • madrocketsci

      Ditto, see above comments. I’m like this when writing code or writing academically.

  4. Reblogged this on Living with an unpronounceable disease and commented:
    This is what it is like to have a writer in the house..

  5. I do too– understand when there is so much mind noise…. so I live in a small town for relief.

  6. Reblogged this on Lost in La-La-Land and commented:
    Oh this is too good not to share!!

  7. Pingback: A Writer in the House | Cyn Bagley's Shadowland

  8. My dear esteemed hostess, I am presently sitting at my computer mumbling, ‘I hate you so much.’

    Is it about you? No. Given more time I could construct an argument to support that accusation. But no. Except. Except. Except.

    You poked the muse universe in my head… and, no, I don’t think you really want to know what it is telling me about their members represented at your household. This thing you have about blithely telling others to, “Write it!” — that — THAT — is the argument I would make …

  9. You learn very quickly in engineering to keep a notebook in/next to bed so you can scribble insights at O dark thirty

    • Although half (welllll, anyhow) the point of the “lab notebook” is shot since “first to invent” got replaced with “first to file.” (Yeah, it’s been years (decades) since my last attempt at grad school, and I am out of the field, but still….) Okay Bog loves lawyers too.

  10. Addendum:

    Burn incense every day in thanks for the man who invented computer text editing. “Cut and paste” wasn’t always a metaphore. I’ve seen it. My father wrote several books (nonfiction) before computers and, despite his age (served in WWII) leaped onto the personal computer bandwagon the minute he understood the implications.

    Also, give thanks (if appropreate) that your writer doesn’t need help with an index….

    • Dick Francis claimed he was the first writer to sell a book that was written on a personal computer. Michael Crichton claimed he was the first one to sell a screenplay written on a computer.

      A pencil or pen is soooo slooow I might as well just use a chisel and hammer to carve my words on a rock…

      • Believe it or not, the Palmer method of cursive writing yielded speeds that rivaled a typewriter. But as with all things it requires practice.

        • And yielded very readable text as well. I had a job as an independent contractor for about a year, transcribing hand-written mid-19th century documents; letters, most of them. The best of them were as easy to read as typescript. The not-so-best were easy enough, after I had gotten accustomed to the individual writer’s handwriting.
          But ye gods and little fishes – the worst of them were … purely horrible. Especially if – as some of them were, to save paper and postage – written crossways, at right angles across the the sheet of paper. On cheap paper. Where the ink had bled through. On both sides.

          • I see your cross written in a cramped hand and add dark blue ink on blue paper. I managed to reach the point that I could read for three hours before the brain broke, but it took me two weeks to learn how to read his writing, first. Royal Navy captain working as port administrator, writing to his sons in the US.

        • I used to be able to do a passable Gregg shorthand. Shorthand has been stone dead so long most people don’t even recognize the characters.

          I used to make notes in Gregg. Sometimes a co-worker would ask what they were. I usually said “Romulan” or “Minbari” depending on their allegiance…

    • I did that with my maters’ thesis. Realized I’d messed it up, took cissors to it, cut and pasted. Of course, I then had to clean-type it.

    • Oh the bad old days before computers! I once made the mistake of writing a 25 page term paper whose main source was Zbigniew Brzezinski. After typing his name about 30 times I required stiff drinks to unclench my fingers.

      And don’t get me started on mimeo paper! BTW that word is so obsolete that Word Press doesn’t even recognize it. Before computers we used to thank God for Michael Nesmith’s mother (YCLIU).

      • I explained to the boys the first tests I gave as a teacher/tutor required running off in mimeo. Then I described it to them. They didn’t believe any such thing ever existed and have it filed under “things mom makes up.”

        • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

          Sadly, I know those things existed. 😉

          • Useful lecture:

            http://www.c-span.org/video/?157292-1/book-discussion-copies-seconds-birth-xerox-machine

            September 23, 2004
            Book Discussion on Copies in Seconds: Birth of the Xerox Machine David Owen discussed his biography of the man who created photocopying, Copies in Seconds: How a Lone Inventor and an Unknown Company Created the Biggest Communication Breakthrough Since Gutenberg — Chester Carlson and the Birth of the Xerox Machine, published by Simon and Schuster. Mr. Owen spoke about Chester Carlson, a New York patent attorney who experimented with Xerography before perfecting the technology and selling it to the Haloid Company. He responded to audience questions.
            59.5 minutes

            Favorite excerpt at approx 40.20:
            BEFORE FINAL PRODUCTION OF THE 914 BEGAN, THEY DISTRIBUTED PROTO TYPES TO VARIOUS BUSINESSES AND INSTITUTIONS. THE MACHINES DIDN’T WORK VERY WELL AT ALL. THEY JAMMED, THEY BALKED. A PAPERCLIP COULD SHUT ONE DOWN. THEY DELIVERED STATIC ELECTRIC SHOCKS TO PEOPLE TRYING TO OPERATE THEM. THEY EVEN CAUGHT ON FIRE. A PROBLEM WITH HAILOID’S MARKETING PEOPLE REFERRED TO EUPHEMISTICALLY AS SCORCHING.

            AND THE ENGINEERS KNEW, THE FIRST MACHINES, ONE OF THE FIRST MACHINES TO HAVE FIRE EXTINGUISHERS ATTACHED TO THEM. AND THE MARKETING PEOPLE WERE HORRIFIED. AND IN THE END, THEY ENGINEERS COULDN’T GET RID OF THE FIRE. THEY COULDN’T GET RID OF THE PROBLEM, SO THEY RENAMED IT. AND FIRE EXTINGUISHERS WERE ADDED BUT THEY WERE CALLED, SCORCH ELIMINATORS.

            PEOPLE FROM HAILOID AT COCKTAIL PARTIES WOULD GO AROUND AND WOULD AT A COCKTAIL PARTY WOULD HEAR NOTHING BUT COMPLAINTS. LET ME TELL YOU WHAT YOUR MACHINE DID TO US TODAY. HEAR A LITANY OF COMPLAINTS. BUT THE AMAZING THING IS THAT THE RESPONSE WAS NOT TO SEND THE MACHINES BACK WAS TO OFTEN ORDER ADDITIONAL BUN ONES. SO THAT THERE COULD BE SOME CERTAINTY THAT ONE WOULD BE UP AND RUNNING AT ANY POINT IN THE DAY.

            AND WHEN THE INITIAL PROTOTYPES WERE SENT AROUND, THE HALF DOZEN, THE ENGINEERS WENT BACK, SORT OF SHEEPISHLY TO PICK THEM UP WHEN THE TEST WAS OVER. A TEST THAT HAD BEEN A GREAT FAILURE. THEY DISCOVERED SOMETHING THAT SURPRISED THEM. WHICH WAS THAT NO ONE WANTED TO GIVE THEM BACK. AND THANK YOU AND I WOULD BE HAPPY TO ANSWER QUESTIONS.

        • Back when (circa 2000) I was substitute teaching (and finding out that I’m not good at it), posted in the teacher’s lounge at the high school there was a list of signs that it’s time to retire–your longevity check is bigger than your paycheck…all your tests are purple….

        • Today’s children will never know the smell of a freshly printed ditto. 😦

          • “No (x subject) test today the ditto machine is down”

            • I recall spending the first part of the test period with the teacher having us go over our copies to make sure we knew which round things were intended to be ‘e’, which were ‘o’ and which were ‘a’.

          • Robin Munn

            I don’t know when they stopped using them in the US. But I know that alcohol smell of mimeographs very well from my childhood schooling in France — and I’m 36 years old now.

        • My dad still has piles of scrap paper out in the garage that are extra or badly printed mimeos that he handed out to his junior high and high school history classes. He handwrote his tests and worksheets, of course.

          • I still have copies of music handed out by the Seattle Parks Commission – lyrics and guitar chords that get paler purple every year. 1969-1972. Occasionally I still play and sing some.

        • Wikipedia has a picture. No purple print, and no mimeo smell, but the picture’s better than having those.

        • What? They don’t believe in the subtle Play-Doh scent of freshly mimeographed sheets?

          (Shakes head in wonder)

      • Oh the bad old days before computers! I once made the mistake of writing a 25 page term paper whose main source was Zbigniew Brzezinski. After typing his name about 30 times I required stiff drinks to unclench my fingers.

        In the days of illuminated manuscripts and hand copy, clerks would often write comments in the margins about working materials and conditions. One went “And now it’s done. For G-d’s sake, give me a drink.”

  11. …short story will get done, promise, sometime tonight or tomorrow.

    Better right than fast. We can wait a bit. Though some might get a bit fidgety.

    • Eyes stack of redecorating mags packed in the box — nope no one has been at them. Shifts gaze cautiously to the box of Lairs and Bunkers — oh nooo…

      • I don’t know, CACS, I’m still trying to decide between the fifty cal autoturrets or the miniguns… caliber versus volume of fire…

        • With a correctly-programmed sentry gun you only need one shot per target. Two if you’re a Jeff Cooper type, three if you subscribe to the Mozambique double tap.

          Volume of fire is only a requirement when you can’t take the time to aim. When “time” is in milliseconds it’s irrelevant at tactical distances.

        • If volume of fire is your concern, claymores are your answer.

  12. I don’t know – it’s thoroughly enjoyable, co-writing a book with my daughter: she came up with the characters and the situations, some of the dialog for Chronicles of Luna City, and the Second Chronicle of Luna City, we thrash out the plots and background together, and then I write in the descriptions and conversation.
    We’re having fun – and honestly, it’s nice having someone to bounce ideas off of. We figure that Luna City is good for about five books. Maybe more, if we get really inspired.

  13. Actually my wife is grateful that I understand not to talk when she’s typing because I also write, and always hated my family thinking I was doing nothing when I was thinking.

    • First company I worked for, the owner / president (non-technical) came across one of my developers thinking and asked him why he wasn’t working (typing)? When told he was thinking, his response was …..

      “Can’t you do that at home?” /headdesk

      • I used to doodle when thinking. Had a boss who did not understand that there was thought going on in the background. Well, he made quitting when kid #1 arrived very easy.

  14. For the main topic of this post, you can simply substitute programmer for writer, and make some minor mods to the individual sections. Same same for “engineer,” “researcher” (in any number of different fields). I’d bet that other folks who do heavily mental/creative work can fill in additional similar occupations.

  15. I wonder if I could get my extrovert to read this… Naa… she’s just as likely to EAT it and then go talk to 20 people.

    Sadly, my extrovert has inadvertently destroyed my favorite place to write. I can’t write at home because my family is WAY too noisy and distracting. So I started taking my notebook along when my extrovert and I went out to the little bar we like to hang out at. Neither of us are dating, and it sucks to go alone. Even I need SOME social interaction (even if, for me, it only consists of watching people I don’t know interact with other people I also don’t know. That’s enough, right?) I was able to get an amazing (for me) amount of writing done there. I’m big and ugly, so people didn’t tend to bother me. The extrovert spends her time hitting on guys and (oddly enough) socially interacting with other women (which seems to involve a lot of hugging… weird). Except, she has now managed to convince people that I am not all that anti-social and that I might be an interesting to know or something… SO, I can’t write there anymore either, because people want to come SIT AT MY TABLE, and want to have actual CONVERSATIONS! Dangit!

    Is it really so impolite to tell people to smeg-off?

    • It’s amazing what you can get away with wearing headphones. Even if all that’s on is white noise.

      Random person: *poke, poke* HEY! WHATCHA LISTENIN’ TO?

      Me: *shrug*
      *points at ears*
      *ignores*

      Random person: What an @hole. *wanders away*

      Me: *success!*

      • I’ve been a massive audiobook consumer for the last few years; I probably have the ear buds in six to eight hours a day.

        The interesting thing is that, while strangers almost never spoke to me before, seeing the earbuds seems to impel many of them to make some comment or start a conversation.

        On occasion I’ll shut off the player – which has one of those idiot Apple-style time-delay switches – pull the earbuds out, and say, “Yes?” And then they’ll get mad, because 99% of the time people can’t remember what they said ten seconds before.

      • “The Interrupted Murderer. I think it’s a HOW-TO.”

  16. This is a recurrent problem for us since many of the members of our intentional community are writers of various sorts. So last year, in self-defense, we build an isolation cabin that writers/programers/students can retreat to.

  17. Um . . . The one eye man is king?

  18. Sarah, I think it’s genetic. Both my kids write. Neither published yet, but the young one has put some stuff up on line. Of course they’ve both also moved far away, so I don’t have proximity problems.

  19. Reality Observer

    I am printing the ten rules out in 48 point bold Comic Sans, laminating them, and tacking them to the office door.
    No, I am NOT joking…

  20. Going into my day job and doing my contract work for them (substantially different as its the upstream end of what I do for hourly pay so A-OK as contract work) on their equipment works well, especially with the correct psychotropic compounds present. (Preferably something that doesn’t cause one pupil to get bigger than the other on day 3, alas.)

  21. *Since* Lord of the Rings met Starship Trooper–huh? Wait, Traveller (the game)?

    • You’re not the only one who thought that. Only game I’ve ever played where my character died *during* creation. Oh, fifteen-second-scout, off to the pearly hereafter, we hardly knew ye…

  22. I am the only writer – we’re all introverts. They feel no compunction whatever knocking on my door (nice touch) to interrupt when they need something. I am not very polite when I tell them where to get it. They go away.

    They do not learn from this interaction.

    But most of the time they are off doing their own thing, which is good. I leave them alone.

  23. LOLOLOL! 😀 I particularly liked #8…

    8- If your writer has decided to give up writing, and what they do as a distraction is clean, let them. You know damn well he’s going to start another ten projects and the place won’t get cleaned again for two years.

    Although I rarely manage to clean for more than a day or two before I submerge into the writing again.

    #9 was good, too.

    Make sure they eat, drink and shower SOMETIME. You might not be able to manage all of these every day, but put in some effort.

    I’ve definitely been known to forget to eat, etc. when too immersed in WIP! Eep!

    • Food yes, drink, yes. Bathe is never a problem.

      • Only when veee~ry far away from reliable, clean water sources, is that last a problem. Food, I forget. Drink, my throat reminds me in a day or so (usually).

        Sleep is wished for fantasy, however.

  24. I have minor issues with Spider Robinson, and suspect that prolonged contact with Canadians has affected his moral core, but in one of his collections (not presently accessible to memory, not readily determinable by internet) is a short story about two burglars so unfortunate as to mistake as deserted the house of a writer in mid-novel and of no temper to be intruded upon.

    Delightful. Think “Ransom of Red Chief” except with an disturbed author.

    • Christopher M. Chupik

      “and suspect that prolonged contact with Canadians has affected his moral core”

      Hey! I am mildly annoyed by that comment and respectfully ask that you desist from making them in the future. If it’s okay with you, of course.

    • Reality Observer

      “Distraction” – collected in “User Friendly.”

      “God help us, Thomas: we disturbed a writer while he was working.” He frowned. “Shit, he’ll just leave us here until he’s made his deadline. We could fucking starve. It could be weeks, if he’s a novelist. He might not even remember us by then.”

      (This, while the miscreants are superglued to the front steps of the house…)

  25. Completely off topic but the Cream Earl Grey tea from New Mexico Tea Company is fantastic! I think I have a new favorite.

  26. Hah! Very amusing. There’s also the, “I’ll just sit down and do this bit…” and seven hours later the alarm goes off to pick the yard ape up from school.

  27. >> “Let them clean for about two weeks, at which point they should be attempting to vacuum the cats and mop the children. Then drop a few story ideas across their path.”

    This is terrible advice, Sarah. Wait ’till AFTER they’ve mopped the kids and vacuumed the cats (and healed). Much more entertaining that way, and the video might be worth some Youtube revenue.

  28. 10a. If, in the midst of congratulating themselves that they are FINALLY shed of a series they did not intend to write, your author suddenly freezes, stares into the distance with a look of growing distress, says, “No, you can’t do this to me,” and frantically jots down the bones of a novel set in that short-story world, just wait until they finish, then hand them the crying towel and an appropriate beverage.

    I was ambushed by a novel set in the Alexi-series world. Yes, Ivan the Purrable is in it.