From The Complete Guide to the Care and Training of the Writer in Your Life.
[Originally published October 10, 2008.]
How do I prepare my home for a writer?
Understanding how a writer thinks will help make his or her transition to your home a smooth one. During the introductory period, do not engage in training. Instead, show your writer that you are trustworthy and there to provide him or her with a safe, loving environment. Designate a warm, cozy area of your home as a “studio.” Your writer will appreciate a couch and blankets or other soft bedding material. Keep in mind that your writer may not write right away. Never shout at your writer. If your writer is frightened, he or she may run.
How do I introduce my writer to a baby?
The arrival of a baby can be a joyous experience for the entire family. However, most writers will need some extra attention during this special time. Writers can find it difficult when a new member enters the “writer’s group,” especially if the new member is perceived as being of higher status or as a drain on writing time and resources. Never leave the writer alone with the baby. Ever.
What can I expect of my writer?
Remember that at any given moment your writer could produce something brilliant, transcendent, revolutionary, or just really deep. Say it’s Monday morning and your writer appears to be drinking in front of the television—resist the natural urge to question! By mistaking research for leisure activity, well-meaning but inexperienced caregivers often disrupt critical chains of reasoning. Countless great thoughts have been lost this way. Keep in mind that a writer’s work is often unappreciated until after his or her time. In short, expect nothing less than posthumous glory, but be patient.
Where did my writer come from?
Your writer’s origins can be traced back to a small hairless rodent of the Miocene epoch. Despite its lack of active defenses, its diminutive size and antisocial tendencies helped it to evade detection by predators. The writer was first domesticated by the Chinese, in 3400 B.C. Although the keeping of writers has been popular among the aristocracy for millennia, it has become widespread in the last few centuries as the working masses have accrued more time and resources to devote to the care of others. In the 1920s, the French brought the first writers from Asia to Europe, often installing them in cafés. Recently, there have been news stories about writers growing to well over 200 pounds and becoming aggressive or uncontrollable.
Was that you?
Whether your writer is a struggling novelist, a troubled poet, or a radical playwright, you may find yourself dealing with some of the same issues that my loved ones have encountered. Although they’re no longer communicating with me, I’ve written this book to help people just like them. In fact, I’ve dedicated this book to my ex-wife and the wonderful staff of the San Francisco Biofeedback & Stress Clinic, where she is currently an inpatient. (I’d also like to thank her parents for covering costs there, and for not pursuing further legal action against me.) Remember, a young writer can seem cute and harmless, but without proper nurturing he or she can grow to be an unmanageable adult. However, with the right early care and training, the writer in your life can become a unique and wonderful companion, one that can draw you, the writer’s special human caregiver, into a lasting and loving relationship.
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