Dating a Writer Is Dangerous—Just Ask My Man

Me, makeup-less, and my first article in Essence
I guess The Mister thought nothing of it when we went out on our first dates and talked about the work we do, he a number-crunching accountant and I the daydreamy writer. I was impressed by his ability to calculate percentages in his head — I mean, I sincerely thank God for whoever thought to put a calculator in the BlackBerry — and I think he envisioned me as a microphone-in-your-face, Geraldo-like investigative journalist. That’s only part of the job, though.

Being in a relationship with a writer is really a test of any non-editorial person’s love, patience, and privacy. I admit we have a few quirks and habits that might seem a bit off-putting, maybe even a skosh annoying, to the average corrections officer or lab technician or corporate attorney or seventh grade science teacher. Be forewarned before getting involved, ye who don’t make your living with words, and love us anyway. Pretty please?


The writer's studio, which also doubles as my living room
Every room in the house is our office. There are pen marks on the sofa, printouts on the kitchen counter, digital recorders in the bed. Our better halves may have to doze off to the pounding of our laptop keying at nighttime or avoid disturbing the stack of magazines around the toilet or bathtub, but you would be well-advised not to move anything. We’re just about to use whatever it is you’re thinking about moving.

We accept periods of poverty as part of the unique design of our calling. Because life in the media industry can be a cruel and fickle beast, we can’t accept or keep just any ol’ job. It has to be a right fit. It has to contribute to our body of work. It has to be a stepping stone to something greater because chances are pretty good we won’t be there longer than six months to a year anyhow. C'est la vie. A true writer knows how to live off of ramen noodles and Sprite.

We keep every magazine, every book, every project, everything. I’m pretty sure I haven’t thrown away a magazine since my freshman year of college. Musicians don’t toss away old albums and writers would sooner trash a five-star hotel room than a piece of good print, even if we know we’ll probably never part its pages again.

You may have your grammar served to you on a platter. Don’t get mad when we remind you that “you’re” should actually be “your” in the letter you scrawled out to the landlord or that it should actually be “Janelle and I hate your $(%#*@ guts” when you’re hurling death threats to the neighbor with the noisy dogs. We support you, but we just think good grammar makes your point all the more powerful.

My laptop. I sleep with her in case creativity erupts during slumber.

Our schedules revolve around our creative ebbs and flows. Yes, this is the same T-shirt we slept in. No, we haven’t combed our hair yet today. And so what it’s 5:43 in the evening? Breakthroughs don’t run on timers. Meals, appointments, and personal grooming all take a backseat when that rare alignment of perfect word choice and creative inspiration falls fresh from the benevolent writing gods. Don’t wait up.

Nothing spells love like reading our stuff. Darn the flowers — did you read our new blog post? If we were NBA ballers, we'd expect to see you grinning at courtside, so if you haven’t clamored to show your number one fan-dom over our latest column or clicked the link to an article we sent to you, you couldn’t possibly love us. We want reaction. We want feedback. We want to give you grief when you challenge something we said and then bring it up multiple times throughout the evening.

We will write about you in some form or fashion. Deal with it. Boyfriend can attest: I’ve written about debates we’ve had as a couple and comments he’s made in casual conversation and thought, “Hmm, that would make a good article/blog/book/story.” Consider yourselves our muses, our inspiration, the hot plate dishes in our buffet of creativity. Don’t get all in a tizzy when we write about that weird toe that’s vying for control of your left foot or if an argument you’ve had with your mother becomes a thinly veiled piece of dialogue in our latest novel. It just means that we think you’re great enough to want to share you with the world. Or we’re just pimping your experiences for a check. Either/or.

Now that you know mine, what quirks or caveats go along with your career? 

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