Want to date a writer? Read this first.
Since Valentine's Day is looming, we asked five Canadian writers for their words of warning for getting romantically involved with one of their kind. Here are their top 10 tips.
Put up with their delusions of grandeur. All writers have the idea that they are famous. You will have to listen to them talk about the pressures of success even though their book only sold 300 copies. Best just to go along with it.
- Be prepared to dispense with all your critical faculties. The perfect response to a loved one's writing is: "You are a literary genius!" Say this with as little hesitation as possible. And don't smile when you say it.
- Keep grim common sense from the door, shoot it dead when it approaches — as Vladimir Nabokov's wife Vera once said. Common sense is the last thing a writer needs from a significant other.
- My wife, Cynthia, says, "Get veto power! And before you get involved with a writer, ask yourself: 'Do I mind being turned into a character?"
- First, and vitally, be prepared to pick up the cheque. Writers can’t even pay for their own drinks, let alone yours.
- Brace yourself for the writer’s keen sense of personal injury from reading negative reviews, which almost overrides the keen sense of entitlement that comes from reading the positive ones.
- Be patient with abstraction: you will have to repeat questions three or four times, and the answer to did you remember to get cream? may involve a synopsis of chapter six.
- And along with the bad, some good: a writer has a genuine interest in probing to the depths of your soul — once, at least — and an infallible memory for all the stories you ever tell. Which you then will never be able to tell again without incurring derisive eye-rolling. ("Reader, I married him...")
Read Middlemarch, and consider poor Dorothea's situation. That girl ought to have looked at a few pages of Mr Casaubon's manuscript before signing on to marry the creep and hitching her life to his dreary and insane work-in-progress, The Key to All Mythologies. So, my advice: insist on seeing pages.
If you're the type who can't stand to be with someone who doesn't appear to be doing much of anything all day long, you might want to look elsewhere.
(Connie Barnes Rose)
Heather O'Neill is the author of Lullabies for Little Criminals. Her forthcoming book is called The Girl Who Was Saturday Night.
Joel Yanofsky is the author of four books. His latest, Bad Animals: A Father's Accidental Education in Autism, won the Mavis Gallant Nonfiction Prize and is shortlisted for the B.C. National Award for Canadian Nonfiction.
Marina Endicott's novel Good to a Fault was a finalist for the 2008 Giller Prize and won the 2009 Commonwealth Writers Prize. The Little Shadows was short-listed for this year’s Governor General’s Award.
Peter Behrens' first novel, The Law of Dreams, won the Governor General's Award for Fiction. The O'Briens is his most recent book.
Connie Barnes Rose is the author of Getting Out of Town and the new novel The Road to Thunder Hill.