The Care and Feeding of the Novelist

On behalf of the literary community, thank you for having the patience and fortitude to adopt a writer.  You’ve begun a relationship with many years of great conversation and adventures ahead, but first, there are some things you should know about your new friend that will make your life together go much more smoothly.

Socialization

You’ll notice when you take your Novelist out of the box that she doesn’t speak much until you engage her in conversation.  She is unlikely to call you up and say “Hey, let’s have lunch!” although she may be very, very fond of you.  Your Novelist is an introvert whose primary form of expression is the written word; that means that she is unlikely to, or unable to, express herself well or confidently by speaking.  If you can set up dates via email or text message, you will find her much easier to communicate with.

Your Novelist will enjoy small groups best for social interaction; a larger group is all right as long as she knows most of the people there.  Strangers are best introduced to the Novelist one or two at a time, as the Novelist is most comfortable speaking to a limited number of people before sufficient alcohol has been imbibed.  After the third or fourth margarita you may introduce your Novelist to a few new people; you might be surprised at how gregarious she becomes, but please watch for warning signs of overindulgence, particularly items of clothing flying through the air and/or the presence of Britney Spears karaoke.

Feeding

Your Novelist may have very particular feeding needs.  She may go the whole day without food and then consume a quadruple-shot espresso and an entire cheese pizza before folding herself around her laptop for thirteen-fifteen hours of writing.  She may write a full day on nothing but a soy mocha and then consume her body weight in asparagus and penne pasta in the evening.  There is most likely one or more snacks or beverages your Novelist feels she “cannot write without;” try to keep a continuous supply of these items during intense writing sessions (see “the Groove,” below).  Do not be alarmed at your Novelist’s strange habits; simply try to introduce nutritious foods in a wide variety whenever possible, and encourage your Novelist to leave the house or coffee shop and go someplace with vegetables once in a while.

Other Care Tips

Your Novelist will most likely avoid bright sunlight (although some do prefer to write outdoors).   At times you may find her mode of dress out of season for the area in which you live, but it will make perfect sense to your writer; a hoodie and fingerless gloves, for example, might be appropriate for a cold Starbucks even though the outdoor temperature has reached 97 degrees Fahrenheit.  It is best not to get your Novelist wet or feed her after midnight.

Your Novelist is likely to be very moody on occasion and talk about imaginary people as if she is having an argument with them.  Please do not seek professional help if this happens; it is known as Wrestling the Muse/Angel, and will pass once an understanding is reached.

Your Novelist may also display unusual sleep patterns. Most of the time this is not a source of concern, but if you notice your Novelist muttering about underground boxing clubs and something called Project Mayhem, slip her an Ambien and make sure she stays in bed for at least 12 hours.

Regarding “The Groove”

If you see that your Novelist has reached this precious state of creative flow, please endeavor to make sure that the state is not interrupted by loud noises, sudden movements, Firefly marathons, the smell of cookies baking, or the presence of anything shiny.  The Groove is an elusive state during which your Novelist is working at a fever pitch and most likely creating her best work; anything you can do to minimize distraction is of utmost value to your new friend.  If you see your Novelist veering off her Word or Scrivener file into Facebook, a light slap on the dominant hand to correct the behavior is usually sufficient to get your Novelist back on track.

If by unlucky circumstance you somehow blow your Novelist’s Groove, please do not take the resultant aggravation or airborne baked goods personally; offer to take your Novelist shopping at Office Depot or a local stationery store, and all will be quickly smoothed over.  Hook your Novelist up with a nice milkshake or some pie and she will forget you ever interrupted her Groove.

Good Things to Ask or Say to Your Novelist

“Can I get you another coffee?”

“Do you want to bounce some ideas off me?”

“How about you take a ten-minute break and come back to it.”

“Dude, anybody who would write a review like that is just a douchecanoe and not worth your time.”

Bad Things to Ask or Say to Your Novelist

“How much money have you made on your books?”

“Can I give you my manuscript to read/give to your agent?”

“I’d like to write a novel, but I just don’t have time.”

“So why don’t you write ____ kind of books like that one writer ______? She made lots of money and got on Oprah.”

We hope that you will find the above advice useful for the care and feeding of your Novelist.  With a little patience and a lot of love, you’ll find having a Novelist around to be rewarding and sometimes even joyful!  Congratulations on the newest addition to your family!

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