It's been a long time, but I remember those days. That particular question ranked somewhere between "Are you planning to breastfeed?" and "Do you know what it is?" on the list of things not to ask a very pregnant woman.
Writers face something similar from well-meaning friends and family who don't understand the writing process. It's not their fault. They're not writers. Unless we tell them, how else are they supposed to know our neurotic behavior is normal for our breed?
That's why I've compiled this sharable list of things non-writers should know about their writing friends. Hopefully, it will help the loved ones understand it's not just you.
1. It's called a revision. Not an obsession.
If I had a dime for every time my husband muttered about the ridiculous number of rewrites I do, I wouldn't need a day job.
Despite the major improvements from one draft to the next, he still questions the necessity of so many revisions. Trust me, dear. They are necessary.
2. We're driven to distraction by imaginary conversations.
You know how you think of a great comeback ten minutes after someone insults you but, since the opportunity to zing them has passed, you just replay the conversation in your mind the way you think it should've gone? That's how a writer's brain works. ALL THE TIME. The only difference is the conversations in our mind happen between characters.
3. Don't be alarmed by our search history.
In the past week, I've looked up A.) How long does a cocaine high last? B.) What name-brand drugs are considered bennies? C.) How long is a direct flight between Las Vegas and St. Louis? D.) What were the popular concert venues in Philadelphia and Las Vegas in 1979? E.) How many months in advance are Playboy issues planned? (Note: Make sure your "Safe Search" is turned on if you search anything with the phrase "Playboy.") F.) What is a lethal blood-alcohol level for a 110-pound female? G.) What did the inside of a limousine look like in 1979?
4. Don't be alarmed if we ask a disturbing hypothetical question.
By now, I'm pretty sure my husband has developed a comfort level with some of the things I ask him in order to get a "guy's perspective." His answers never cease to amaze me. Men think WAAAAY differently than women do.
5. We retain an exceptional amount of knowledge on the subjects we research.
Go ahead. Ask me.
6. We develop crushes on fictional characters.
The good news is they're fairly harmless crushes (for the non-fictional people anyway). I can't guarantee your safety if you find your way into my book.
7. It's true. Some writers have been known to carry out their vindictiveness in a literary sense.
Some writers convert the people they don't like into characters that meet unfortunate endings. But there are worse things than death: I prefer converting the people I don't like into characters with small appendages, fat butts and narcissistic personalities.
8. Don't be surprised if we interrupt a moment of normalcy with an out-of-place variation of the Eureka! exclamation. It generally means we've figured out a great ending for a scene or, even better, solved a plot issue.
9. We have rituals.
Some writers need coffee, cigarettes or alcohol.
I need headphones, good music and a generally dark and uncluttered environment in which to write. I've also been known to nom on a Twizzlers or Gummie Bears while deep in thought.
10. We get in a zone.
I've heard there's an exceptionally famous author out there who suggests all first drafts need to be written in total seclusion to intimately connect with the characters. There truly is not better description to use when describing the relationship between characters and authors; it is an intimate connection.
I sometimes imagine the author/character relationship in the same way I imagine a psychiatrist/client relationship. Our character comes in, reclines on the couch and starts divulging their innermost secrets. An interruption is like a knock on the door that breaks the comfort level in the connection.
We don't mean to be cranky when we're interrupted, but it always takes awhile to get it re-established. That can be frustrating.
This isn't, by any means, a complete list, but hopefully it provides a little insight on what it's like to be a writer.
Don't miss the latest book giveaway I've got going on through Goodreads. And congrats to my winners that were announced earlier this week. Your books are in the mail.
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Kathryn Harris is a journalist, a weekend blogger, a wife, a mother of two and the author of "The Long Road to Heaven," a novel about finding faith and forgiveness in the aftermath of addiction.