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.