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Writer(s) in the House

December 15, 2009
When Paul suggested that we turn over our columns to the non-writers in our lives I was a little apprehensive at how readily Jeni agreed. This is her unedited rant about living with a writer. She swears up and down that she has no writing talent, but when she gets the spark… And as most of us can understand, she isn’t happy with what she wrote.

My better ½ informed me weeks ago, that I was going to have to write a piece on what it’s like to live with a writer. Dale knew I could never pass up an opportunity to openly bash him in a public forum, so it was no surprise I accepted the task, with eagerness and sheer delight.

When you and your better (or worse) half decide to begin that old familiar dance of co-habitation, it takes time to get used to new noises, new smells, new things and another lump on the sofa. But when that lump takes the form of a writer, you quickly realize that some of your “less than glamorous” moments can possibly turn into story fodder. You will also be asked to become a critic (a biased one, none the less…who is not beneath taking bribes), a sound-board, a gentle (or not so) prodder, and an idea generator.

When I first met Dale, all those eons ago in our 1st period computer class, I had no idea that beneath the nerdy, genius exterior…beat the heart of a wanna-be Edgar Allen Poe. I don’t even think that he knew it then either. Although reading through our yearbook scribblings, you could see the formation of something spectacular. Yes I am biased and I have been bought off with the promise of an afternoon at the spa in the not-so-distant future. 😉

But when, 17 years later, we decided to take our friendship from platonic to uber-mushy, it was then that I realized living with a writer would present a new set of challenges I so was not prepared for.

Take for example, this blog. Yes, you Write Anything. Dale was given Tuesdays for his column, and for many a Monday night I am asked, “What should I write about for tomorrow’s column, honey?” I am not a writer, I’m a historian. So any prompts that I come up with, he looks at me like I’m speaking Swahili. That could be because most of my suggestions invariably have something to do with the Egyptians or the Knights Templar. But just as he’s questioning my sanity, that old familiar look comes across his face as he comes up with yet another sparkling idea to author and I am once again off the hook.

Another example is one of his short stories “Re-Entry”. This has been in the writing stage for YEARS now. I have reminded, I have suggested, I have begged, I have pleaded…for him to finish the damn thing. But alas, it still sits in his TO DO pile…collecting dust.

When we first moved in together, after reading a collection of his writings, I suggested that he begin setting time every day/week to get in some serious writing. He needed to work on his craft, and since he hadn’t been getting the support that I was now providing…it took a while for him to actually DO it. I believe that writing in LA just wasn’t working for him…so I laid off the nagging until we moved to Raleigh. Once here I put the proverbial foot down and insisted that he pencil in a block of time once a week to work on his writing….and possibly finish “Re-Entry”. Wednesday was decided upon and after scoring an amazing desk for him at the local thrift store, it was set. At first, he was diligent. I would take the kids downstairs and keep them preoccupied, I would provide a drink and I would close the door. He began to write, and for a while there he seemed to be making great progress. But it wasn’t long before this too fell by the wayside.

Yes, he means well. And I absolutely love it when he refers to himself as a writer (although this recent dry spell of his, has him questioning that title). But I know that one day the Holy Grail of writing, the Great American Novel, will come pouring out of his brain flowing into his fingers and placed in his trusty laptop. I believe this just as much as I believe in Santa Claus (yes, I still believe in the Jolly Old Elf and being a true romantic, I also have belief subscriptions for the Easter Bunny, Tooth Fairy, Mother Nature, Father Time, Cupid, and Jack Frost).

There are times that we become the writing fodder. For instance, years ago on Christmas Eve…it was the genius idea of my insane children to attempt TRAPPING SANTA so that they would truly know he existed. I tried to explain to them that he was indeed real and that perhaps trapping him would prevent Christmas from happening to children all over the world. To which they replied that we were in Los Angeles and Santa had already been to all the other places in the world…that we were his last stop. So trapping him would not present any problem. And quick as a jack-rabbit, Dale explained that Hawaii was actually the last stop and Santa needed to get to the island kids, so that they could share in the Christmas Booty. Right about that moment, I could see the floodlights come on in his brain and alas, another story was born.

There have been other instances, where a meaningless day trip morphs into a hilarious weekend nightmare and yet another potential story came to be. Not all of The Zoo’s escapades turned into legitimate anecdotes, although he’s committed most of them to both memory & story diary. Perhaps one day they will see the light of day and perchance inspire maniacal laughter in another family or perhaps pity for our bizarre life. Either way, I have every confidence that the writer bringing our dysfunctional family to the masses will be DC.

At least that’s what I’m saying…as long as there is another spa day in it for me. I hope you’re keeping count Dale.

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Sorry about the lateness of today’s post. My better half was tending to me and my headaches instead of putting the final touches on her post.
  1. December 16, 2009 1:40 am

    wonderful insights there – and I agree with Jeni – having read Re-Entry – its GOT to be published!!!

  2. December 17, 2009 9:11 am

    Jeni, you mention something akin to the sparkle and gleam I apparently get in my eye when I hit on an idea. And we definitely have to hear more about the zoo.

    Thanks for your candid sharing. Must show this to Dave! We writers are only as good as the passionate and supportive partners who love and nurture and encourage us behind the scenes.

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