Loving a writer, or: Even when you don’t hear typing, I’m writing

Miles and Reese: A writer’s best friend and worst enemy.
Miles and Reese: A writer’s best friend and worst enemy respectively.

Though it may not be evident by this blog, I am a professional writer. Whether you get paid to write or are a recreational practitioner, and whether you’re a journalist, novelist or blogger, the act of writing—not to mention its accompanying quirks—is something that only other writers inherently understand.

Dogs, of course, do not have the ability to write, unless you take literally the stories told from a canine’s point of view (my favorite is Peter Mayle’s playful, affectionate A Dog’s Life). But some dogs, generally the less-proddy breeds, seemingly possess an innate understanding of writers.
Our dog Miles, for example, is a frequent and welcome writing companion who may lay curled at the base of my desk for hours; Reese, on the other hand, has a tendency to make me nearly evacuate my bowels by waiting until I’m on a roll, typing rhythmically to the music blaring through my headphones, then jabbing me in the elbow with his cold, wet nose.

Reese would rather run around outside than do something boring, like write.
Reese would rather run around outside than do something boring, like write.

Non-writing people are the same way; some get it, some don’t. See: Wendy Torrance in The Shining. The reason Jack Nicholson’s character flips the fuck out is because it’s often hard to get in the flow, and even a brief interruption can derail your train of thought, leaving fractured and fragmented ideas, the survivors of which are left to schlep back to the brain station in a (usually futile) attempt to reconnect with one another.

Like fishmongers, writers require a special kind of person to love/tolerate us. I am lucky to have one of those. I am also fortunate to count among my friends those who write, and those who comprehend the writing process and the idiosyncrasies of writers; we can be basket cases (though to be fair this is because it’s so freaking difficult to find the time, space and peace to freaking write—in fact, it’s a wonder more of us don’t end up like Jack Torrance).

Wyatt the dog: Accustomed to breaking my concentration, to disTRACTING me, taking me TIME to get BACK to where I WAS.
Wyatt the dog: Accustomed to breaking my concentration, to disTRACTING me, taking me TIME to get BACK to where I WAS.

On the topic of loving a writer, a friend and fellow writer recently forwarded me the simultaneously hilarious and bittersweet post “Why You Should Fuck a Writer” from Broke-Ass Stuart (yeah, I know, it’s from last June and has already made the rounds, but there’s a lot of cat videos and Kardashian news to sift through). A plea to those would give their affections to a writer, it is informed by rich observations about writers and writing that do not shy away from harsh truths (including our general intolerability regardless of whether we’re plagued by writer’s block or “in the groove”).

“Fuck a writer,” the author implores, “because you will love him so much more intensely than anyone who’s come before, even though he will probably fuck it up.”

“Screw a writer because she’s crazy,” the writer beseeches. “Because she’ll sit in a room, working for eight hours sometimes only to produce eight lines.”

“Don’t fuck a stockbroker. Don’t fuck a real estate developer. Don’t fuck a politician,” he urges. “Don’t fuck people who’ve never created something lovely simply for the sake of creating it.”

After all, it isn’t really success a good writer is after, observed William Faulkner (who also noted that “‘Ode on a Grecian Urn’ is worth any number of old ladies”): “He knows he has a short span of life, that the day will come when he must pass through the wall of oblivion, and he wants to leave a scratch on that wall—Kilroy was here—that somebody a hundred, or a thousand years later will see.”

A better, and less exhausted, writer would craft a beautiful description of this butte that would make you want to read it again years later.
A better, and less exhausted, writer would craft a beautiful description of this butte that would make you want to read it again years later.
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