Monday, September 07, 2009

A word to writing supporters

Are you a fabulous, loud, bitchy, quiet, loving, caring, despondent, huffy, huggy friend/lifepartner/caregiver to a wild-eyed writer who has ill-advisedly decided to attempt an entire novel in 72 hours? Here are a few tips to keep your well-watered but groggy and frantic writer on track:

Do occasionally ask how things are going and keep all cups filled, be they water glasses, wine tumblers, coffee buckets or whiskey bowls. Not filled to the brim, to avoid spillage, but never less than halfway full.

Don't ask for a whole synopsis thus far. It will only kill whatever just seemed to get done and the setback is bad enough when there are months to write a novel, infinitely worse when there are just three days.

Do tidy up a bit, get some laundry done, throw some sawdust on the floor, lick the windows clean and bother the neighbours for cups of sugar. Keep the general running of the house going while the writer is immersed in conquering heroes and destroying the lives of very nice people who have only just now come into existence on the page.

Don't try to be an integral part of the writing process. Those people who get thanked on the liner notes of albums were tea-bringers who kept their mouths shut. And what's more they were proud of it!

Do have more than one back-up take away menu in case the Indian restaurant up the street all of a sudden refuses to deliver just because one time they got a call for fresh goat at 4am in the middle of January which the writer then refused to pay for on the grounds that drinking and ordering take out is to be expected any time, but going to the bank machine to get money out to pay for the take-out at 4am is a wholly unreasonable request. Especially in January.

Don't offer to come by for moral support, show up to the writing room ready to open a bottle of red wine, pick up the NASA-designed corkscrew of the head writer, hold it out to her and say, "this is stupid". Unless you have tendencies toward self-harm, all things in the home of the head writer are awesome, especially the NASA-designed corkscrew. Open the bottle and sit down quietly.

Do bring something else to do with your time. Writing isn't an entertaining venture for anyone but the writer, so sitting around watching someone write will for you, feel like watching the Matrix from the point of view of the people on the ship. Whole worlds are being created out of bits of bones and breezeblocks, but all you'll see is several very stressed people frowning and occasionally shrieking at their laptops. Bring a few DVDs, maybe some sudoku games, or better yet, groceries. Writers love it when you occupy your spare time cooking for them.

Don't expect to do this type of thing more than once a year. If you're stressed out by the crying, drinking, howling, snorting, table shaking, door-kicking, glass throwing, loud music, and back-breaking naps where your beloved writer makes wheezing, chugging sounds that remind you of a broken radiator, imagine how stressed the writer is.

Do be ready with big hugs and chocolate covered flowers for your writer when the novel is done and the only thing left to do is lower the laptop gently into a bathtub filled with hot, foamy suds as the filthy, bloodied writer tearfully promises to get an accounting certificate and never ever do anything like this again. Promise to destroy the hated manuscript, tuck your writer into bed and hide the laptop until the next day when blood sugar levels are once again at a point where the writer can think clearly.

Novel HO!

2 comments:

Laura said...

OMG, seriously. I have a little over 10,000 words still. This is insane.

Rachel said...

Thanks,this was very funny. As a repeat offender of the contest, I keep thinking each year will get easier. It doesn't. But it's a hell of a ride!!