My friends all know where to find me. I’m almost always at the local coffee shop staring intensely at my laptop screen, working on stories most people probably won’t ever read. At the off chance that I’m not there, I’m probably locked away in my cave-like office with my dog sleeping at my feet. Those same friends would probably describe me as introverted and outgoing—an anomaly. But I do have a wild side. I am a bit of an adrenaline junkie. I’m not rich or famous, but my work does show up on multiple Google searches.
Although this sounds like a really shitty match.com profile, trust me, it’s not. This is actually the synopsis of the life of a male writer, told by a guy that’s living the lifestyle. I won’t take full responsibility for what you’re about to read, I was actually inspired to write this piece after a friend handed me an article with a very bold premise. The author argued fiction writers are the best kind of person to date. As a full-time male writer, I’m here to tell you the truth—to describe what it’s really like to date one of us.
This isn’t meant to be a warning or a report, but more of a portrayal of what you should expect if you’re considering dating a male writer. Note—my girlfriend helped immensely with this list.
1. We don’t live in the real world.
I’ve always had stories in my head. Since I was a little kid they were itching to get out. My mind is a vault of ideas that never truly shuts off. Think about trying to get caught up on 30 years worth of projects. That’s the life of a writer. We’re always thinking and most of the time it’s not about the real world, it’s about the fantasy world inside of our minds. If your potential date seems distant they probably are—they’re probably in a completely different world. Only ask them what they’re thinking about if you’re prepared to hear another story idea.
2. We’re workaholics.
Living in this fantasy world of a mind means you rarely get time off. Inspiration can strike at any minute. It happens in the middle of the night, on a long run and sometimes even during sex. Don’t take it personally if your partner seems to disappear for long periods of time, or if they seem reserved and deep in thought.
3. We aren’t all famous or rich.
Most male writers aren’t going to have a lot of cash to wine and dine you, so instead of sushi you’re expectations might be crushed when they offer you a bowl of steaming noodles. And if you are lucky enough to go somewhere nice for dinner, don’t expect the local patrons to recognize your male company. Chances are they have never heard of our name or our books. This is especially true if you live in the Midwest. And I get it. I do. I live in Des Moines, Iowa. Writers are supposed to live in New York or LA. We’re supposed to be surrounded by skyscrapers and movie stars, not cornfields.
4. Schedule? What schedule?
We don’t work on the same clock as the rest of the world. My hours range between 12:01 a.m. Monday morning thru 11:59 p.m. Sunday night. If you’re looking for someone that has a normal schedule then dating a writer probably isn’t for you.
5. We’re not all assholes.
In other words we aren’t all like Hank Moody from Californication. Most male writers understand the human condition better than the average person. Why? Because we observe. Everything. We also spend a lot of time researching our work and generally have a pretty good idea what’s going on in the world. We have empathy for those less fortunate, and often times those people turn into characters in our books.
6. Yup. We’re pretty much all crazy.
This isn’t a stereotype. I wish it was, but after 8 months of full-time writing I’m starting to see why most of us seem like we belong in therapy. One minute we are outgoing and feel like we’re on top of the world, and the next we are introverted and closed off. Remember how I said we live in a fantasy world? Try that for a couple days straight and you’ll see what I mean.
7. We’re good lovers.
Yeah, I know, sounds arrogant. But we care deeply about our characters and that spills over to our relationships in real life. When I’m not locked away in my own old world I’m spending most of my time with my lover. Chances are your potential male partner may communicate with you in a different way than other mates would. I’ve always written my partners love notes and letters. Fiction writers are hopeless romantics, and our work often transfers over into real life.
8. Our stories are our children.
Author Norman Mailer says writing books is the closest men ever come to childbearing. This may be a stretch, especially after having my sister-in-law and a close friend go through the birthing process. But our work is deeply personal. Every word we write is part of something bigger. It grows and becomes something more than just spilled ink. Don’t expect to understand this, because it probably won’t make sense.
9. Everyone’s a critic.
And by that I mean pretty much everyone. No one understands how reviews affect a writer, because most people don’t even understand what it takes to write a book. It’s not as easy as Stephen King makes it look, and there is so much more to writing than actually, well, writing. There’s research, marketing, articles like this one, and then finally writing the actual book. The process can take years. I wish I had alligator blood off the triathlon field, and I wish I had the ability to brush off negative reviews, but most of us don’t. And no matter how hard you try you can’t help us through the process.
10. We’re Fun — Sometimes.
Male writers are witty and smart and… sometimes they’re fun. And it makes sense, right? Writing is a huge gamble. It’s a risky career. Any guy crazy enough to do this for a living is probably going to be a little insane, but they are probably also a lot of damn fun.