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A portrait of a young woman (so-called Sappho) with writing pen and wax tablets uncovered in Pompeii.

A portrait of a young woman (so-called Sappho) with writing pen and wax tablets uncovered in Pompeii.

Having a writer in your life is complicated. A writer is an emotional beast that volleys between clacking away on a computer in solitude and getting suddenly social at inopportune times. You might notice this around midnight when the writer in your life nudges your back and says, “Are you asleep? How was your day?” This can be annoying, but if you have the energy, or you weren’t actually sleeping, you might consider striking up a conversation with your writer, since it’s downright impossible to do so when she is back to clacking away on her computer in solitude.

If your writer doesn’t get out often enough to socialize, she might get overly exuberant about human contact and smile at every single person who passes her in the grocery store. If you find this happening on an uncomfortably regular basis, encourage her to “get out a bit” with friends on a semi-regular basis. Writers sometimes have trouble self-regulating their social lives, and will appreciate a reminder that other people exist outside of their manuscripts from time to time. Their friends also appreciate this, unless, of course, her friends are also writers…

Sometimes, your attempts to help your writer “be more normal” will be met with irritability. When this happens, back slowly away from your writer with your hands outstretched in a non-confrontational manner and say soothing things like, “Why don’t you do a bit of writing? I can take care of things for a couple of hours.” Once your writer has spent some time with her manuscript, she will be affectionate and cuddly once more, and will even thank you for your efforts.

Woman Writing in an Interior (1904) Félix Emile-Jean Vallotton (1865/1925)

Woman Writing in an Interior (1904)
Félix Emile-Jean Vallotton

Having a writer in your life isn’t all work, however. A writer is a great help when you have to write business letters, work evaluations or any other type of writing that doesn’t come naturally to you. She can also be highly entertaining when she tries to figure out back stories for the strangers in shopping malls. Going shopping with your writer after she gets paid is also very satisfying, and when she dedicates a book to you, calling you “her inspiration and her biggest support,” you can know that your efforts were deeply appreciated.

So the next time your writer nudges your back at midnight and asks about your day, wrap your arms around her and mumble, “Do you know what time it is? Go to sleep…” Because, seriously, you don’t need to wake up at midnight. And she’ll understand. She loves you, too.