Now that Thorny’s book is out there (on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Smashwords), I thought it would be a good time to discuss how those of us who are the partners of writers can survive the authorial process. Having come full circle, I think I can speak with authority on this subject now.
If your writer spends inordinate amounts of time staring into space, brace yourself. They have an Idea. Such things require cultivation and, therefore, a lot of brain power. Anything that doesn’t immediately support The Idea is inconsequential. Your speech is white noise while they’re working on The Idea. They will not do chores, nor remember to do much of anything else. The only thing for you to do is wait and remind them to eat and bathe regularly.
On Being Stuck
Should you enter a room and discover your writer on a horizontal surface with a wide-eyed expression on their face, don’t panic. They aren’t ill; they’re Stuck. This is when The Idea proves complicated. It can be shocking to your writer. The Idea now requires additional, deeper thought. Do not mention Writer’s Block unless you are prepared to declare allegiance to the same side of the debate over its veracity that your writer already maintains. Again, no other activity is possible while Stuck, and you can only wait.
Read at your own risk! Should you volunteer to read what your writer has written, you will be required to spend a great deal of time answering questions about what you read. It is a test, and you are doomed. Your writer will ask you the same questions repeatedly, question the truth of your answers, and demand you not sugarcoat anything.
If you want to make it out of this alive, you have two choices: A. answer with brutal honesty and prepare to grovel for forgiveness afterward; or B. sugarcoat everything and prepare to renew and support them when other, more qualified people, provide the brutal honesty. Either way, you will not win.
Not reading has it’s own risks, such as passive hostility, sighing and whining, and bribery that will not be followed-through on.
If your writer expresses interest in writing Romance, encourage them to do so with everything you have. You will get laid often and with various levels of creativity. Experimentation may be necessary at times in support of The Idea, but as this might be the only direct benefit to you of your writer at work, embrace it.
When The Idea is working, you will be rewarded for your support. When The Idea is not working, you will be able to offer distraction and possibly be praised for getting your writing Unstuck. Try not to feel abandoned or ignored if your writer returns to writing immediately afterward; that is not their intention and they will eventually remember you’re there again.
The Proper Responses
Writer: “I can’t do that now because I’m working.”
At no point should you say, “That’s not real work.” Either they will yell at you or ignore you. Being ignored isn’t as fun as it might sound. Say instead, “I understand.” You might as well also do the chore or other task yourself.
Writer: “I hate my book! I’m never writing again!”
Say nothing. You should always have a stash of treats available when this happens. Hand them over, don’t linger, and provide more if your writer’s eyes stop shooting fire. Occasionally, this could result in angry sex; let them win.
Writer: “Everyone’s better than me. No one will ever buy my book. I might as well give up now.”
Lavish with praise and encouragement, but do not be specific to any portion of The Idea. Offer treats as above. Distractions like an evening out or other joint activity may also work. Be sure to have tissues nearby as crying is likely. Take caution: offering examples of worse writers will bolster your writer’s confidence, but your writer is the only one who can determine if the other writer is actually worse; you must prepare for this ahead of time. There will be no sex, only cuddling.
Writer: “Oh, my God, I’m finished.”
If your writer is excited by this, celebrate their triumph. If they are devastated, do not ask what’s wrong, but instead, respond as above to encourage confidence. If your writer has not already done so, this will be when they ask you to read it; have your response prepared. Sex may or may not happen.
Depending on your writer’s involvement in this final stage of The Process, you may or may not have a normal human being back with you again by this stage in The Process.
If your writer signs with a Publisher, your work is now complete and your writer will return to normal. Some encouragement may be required, depending on the amount of time involved in The Wait before Release Day. By now, you should be well versed in how to support your writer though that.
If your writer chooses to Self-Publish, your support will be extended toward understanding and supporting such concepts as Formatting, Layout, Distribution Channels, and Marketing Strategies. Study hard and you will make it through this. Adapt the proper responses as necessary when problems and triumphs occur.
If your writer’s book is with a Publisher, you may only be needed by your writer occasionally to offer support, treats, and tissues. You should write the Publisher a letter of thanks for handling everything. Consider yourself blessed.
If your writer is Self-Publishing, know that plans will fall through, sales figures will be more important than life itself, and the sound of incoming social media messages of some type will surround you. It is a frightening time, what with the mood swings and binge eating, but because you have survived thus far into The Process, you will now survive Release Day. Use what you know. Recruit and train others to step in when you need a break. Accept or call in favors. You will make it through this. If your writer breaks into the Top 10, don’t question what the hell that means, just cheer. You may now initiate the sex in celebration.
You’ve survived! Treat yourself to something nice and know that you have earned it. But remember, this time of elation will most likely cause your writer to forget entirely the struggle to reach this point. Because of this phenomenon, your writer may be hit by a new Idea in short order. Don’t despair. You can do this. Now you know how.