The Duality of A Writer

*This post sparked by a Facebook Meme and the resultant comments. The meme stated: “Writers literally create worlds from scratch… What is sexier than that? I don’t know why every person out there isn’t dating a writer.” by Rachel Bloom. This article is a hybrid of ideas presented about the nature of ‘being a writer’, the thoughts they led me to, and the further expansion of thought/comments from Facebook, Twitter, and private messaging.*

Duality (from the Pinacoteca Central)

Few understand what it means to be a writer. 

Yes, they know about our love of words, our fanatical need to perfect a sentence, and our frenzied creative bursts. But grasping the reality of what it is like to be a writer is a concept so foreign it makes others feel uncomfortable or rejected.

There are only two worlds that exist for writers. 

Time Writing and Time Not Writing
The Time Writing world is where we want to live. We are ever seeking a means to get back to this magical place where stars are born in the space of a breath and everyone is known and knows as intimately as if they’d shared the same womb.
The Time Not Writing world is hell, a infinite distraction, that we walk in, trying to puzzle out how to get back to our Time Writing world.

The rub is that our Time Not Writing world is where people live. Family, friends, jobs, obligations to non-writing. Genuinely, we love these things. Most of us wouldn’t trade them for anything. Except Time Writing. Which riddles us with guilt. Guilt for walking in the Time Not Writing world, and guilt for not being in the Time Writing world.

The most difficult part often is the social ramification. We love our family and friends. They love us. They don’t want to hear (as was best put in the Facebook conversation on this matter) “Of course I want to spend time with you, but…” This leads to feelings of rejection.

The non-writer who loves one reads this and thinks I’m not that way; I want them to have as much time as they need to write. And you do; bless you, you really do. Until you realize Time Writing and Time Not Writing has nothing at all to do with time.

With a full blessing the non-writer in love with one gives the writer leave to work on whatever project they are enraptured with dealing with at that point. “I’ll give you as much time as you want. How about a month of no distractions to finish that project?” Non-writer says. It’s kind. And pointless.

Time Writing has no time. It is timeless, eternal and fleeting. One month becomes two months;
Conversations with No One

becomes six months; becomes a year. A year of not interacting, not being distracted, not participating in anything but Time Writing. No one’s patience is that infinite. But a writer’s need of Time Writing is that expansive. Suddenly the need for detachment is unhealthy, although a writer has never been happier. The desire for the writer to rejoin the Time Not Writing world becomes pressing, and we rejoin it, with reluctance and an outright bitch-fest but understanding.


Then the non-writer is left knowing we are with them, but also just want to get back to Time Writing. The writer is there and not there, part of their mind, soul, in the Time Writing world. And any time we’re in the Time Not Writing world one hundred percent, not distracted at all by Time Writing, we are some of the most miserable, sorriest, least organized and functional lots ever.

So, yes, the premise of being in a relationship with a writer is sexy. What writers do is stimulating. Anyone would want to be constantly stimulated by exposure to that. But, resoundingly, we’re also alien to the point of being unfathomable. Who wants to be in a relationship with someone you have nothing in common with and can’t understand the very basics of their existence?

 ◘◘◘

BC Brown is the author of three novels and has participated in multiple short story anthologies. Having committed almost every bad deed in the book of ‘How to Be An Author’, she now strives to educate other writers through humor and simple instruction.

Anthologies: Fracas: A Collection of Short FrictionQuixotic: Not Everyday Love Stories A Chimerical World: Tales of the Seelie Court

She can be found on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.


3 thoughts on “The Duality of A Writer”

  1. Yes, indeed. So much of this and still more. I remember Rachel's post and agreed with it, too. There are different types of writers, though, with we novelists probably being the most isolationist. What we do is best done with greatest solitude and time probably receives no greater exposure as the malleable, artificial construct it is when perceived through our minds. Fascinating, in theory, perhaps, but dating a writer? Just as Semele should've heeded Zeus and accepted a little less than being exposed to his unfiltered divinity, someone who desires great intimacy with a writer would probably exist best in the form of a great lover of that writer's works. That lover would likely be the least jealous or begrudging of Time Writing or Time Not Writing that is intruded upon by intrusive moments of inspiration and scribbled notes. That lover would likely be the most truly encouraging and patient with time apart as the writer slips off to another plane of existence. I've kept a mental push pin in the film "Phenomenon". "Did you buy her chairs?" John Travolta bought Kyra Sedgewick's ugly, uncomfortable, handmade chairs because he loved her and she made them. People often cite the importance of being supportive of a partner and with a writer that has to mean nothing less than reading those works, possibly even giving a little feedback from the perspective of someone still with both feet in the mortal realm. Approval isn't even a requirement, but giving the time and interest to read has to be. Again, that can be a huge commitment with a novelist just by the nature of the output. Every other form of writing is shorter and more grounded than a novel has the potential to be. If you're not willing to take that leap into a new frame of reference, possibly exploring a world created from whole cloth, then maybe that's why every person out there isn't dating a writer. Dating an alien creator of worlds is simply not a challenge that everyone's capable of meeting.

  2. Phoenix,

    Amazing response! I agree with you. It is, in my opinion as well, impossible for a writer to be in a relationship with a person who is not also a reader of the writer's work. They don't, I think, have to be dewy-eyed fans, but they do have to read each piece (even the unpublished work) and be able to talk those worlds with the writer. Because, let's face it, even when we're in this world, we are still very much in those worlds.

    As to being easier to date a short fiction writer or poet rather than a novelist, perhaps not? I've dated a short fiction writer and, perhaps it was because I was a novelist preoccupied in my own world 80% of the time, short fiction writers are frenzied writers who feel compelled (most of the time) to complete novel-sized mounds of work at once, first draft through final draft. It also could be that, when putting two of the same type of creative together, a relationship between writers is perhaps best described as doomed from the start. But – man! – the material produced from and after that relationship's end!!

    Dating a writer is a unique experience. A lover and companion must be able to share the heart, mind, and soul with hundreds and thousands of other people – even if those people are figments of the writer's imagination. Companions must be able to spend lonely nights in silence sitting beside a contented isolationist. They must also be able to share a certain level of their lover's intimacy with the whole world as it is indelibly placed on the page for anyone's consumption.

  3. No, dewy eyes are probably not a requirement, but more of an extreme example. My perception comes from the bias of being most comfortable with novels. I've done quite number of short stories, but given time my mind will try to find ways to weave them into ever-larger works. Keeping them even relatively short requires a tight timeframe and a write-to-done focus that makes me think I can understand that frenzy. I used to use it to let me crank out shorts quickly for creative writing classes.

    On the other hand, I've definitely never tried to date another writer. The closest I've ever come was occasional scribblers who claimed to be poets but kept their writings to themselves. At the worst, I've had a couple of partners who even succumbed to jealousy and feelings of isolation over my own "contented isolationist". There's little I can do about that. Someone who doesn't get, miss people, or mind doing things alone (traits I recognized in childhood before I knew I was a writer) can't make a partner feel needed the way "normal" people can. For all my empathy and skill at crawling into another's head, I'm too honest to fake that. The best I've been able to provide (aside from loving devotion, of course) has been to keep my relationships out of my writing, so my experience points don't go directly toward fueling post-relationship output.

    Still, there's huge post-relationship benefit to compartmentalization and the upswing in uncontested time. Fewer demands from Time Not Writing means more Time Writing. No matter any other implications of a relationship's end, more Time Writing always goes into the Win column. It makes it sound like some kind of drug, a base addiction. That might require more objectivity to judge, but someone more objective could never properly understand.

    For all writing does, I've never considered it to be a means of escape anymore than Time Not Writing is a means of escape from Time Writing. Drugs and other addictions are escapes and coping mechanisms. Love, in its myriad forms, is much more significant than that, but so often done so very wrong. It feels as natural, though, as Time Writing. They both certainly share virtues of obsession and compulsion, if one is willing to see the subtle differences of those. I've never felt drawn to those other external substances for diversion, so my insights there must be considered limited. I know, some writer; I'll never be legendary for vices, but at least that won't be a distraction from a legacy of storytelling.

Comments are closed.