If you are a single woman who seriously writes, this can be a serious issue.
I am a writer with a few books in bookstores around the United States. One book is translated into French and resides in Canadian bookstores. I have heard there are eight graders at a Florida middle school reading my first book during classroom quiet time. This recent discovery means a great deal to me, because that first book is not eight grade reading material (far, far from it). It is nice to know that a random, unintended audience is paying attention.
Writing is risky, even if you are traditionally published rather than investing in the self-publishing model. One commentator recently wrote that it takes about 10,000 hours to conceptualize, research, write, and edit a publishable book length work. That is 10,000 hours away your family and outside of your day job, and time taken from social activities. In my case, this is time away from my son, developing a new social circle, and in lieu of exploring romance and dating in a post-divorce reality.
There, I said it. Right now, I’d rather write than meet men. Oh, Lord.
Some people view writers as having mythical, superpower abilities. They should. Writing is ritualistic magic. It is invocation. Many of us psychically bleed during the writing process. Real research is often involved. This writing stuff is no small feat. It isn’t for the weak, and there is a reason most people in the world will never write that novel. Writing is hard, thankless work. On top of that, you have to actually be good at it if you want to sell books.
If you want to really write – you also have to accept that a great deal of your life will be spent in solitude, because when writers write, they write alone.
If you are a single woman writer, you live a unique, complicated reality. You may desire companionship, but you also desire to write. These are sometimes conflicting needs.
Many potential partners won’t understand writing’s magical realm. Your thoughts will often wander. Once you get into the writing flow, you are in it, and God forbid anyone who tries to pull you out.
For the few who get the writing thing, they will be scared of your profound abilities. They may worry that you will write about them. If you date men, many will insert their ego into your work and suggest that, in the event that you do write about them, please mention that their dicks are big. You will probably take a moment to remind these men that you normally don’t write about such matters.
(Yes, I speak from experience.)
Some partners will celebrate your writing — until you actually write about them. This realization is ironic and sad, but true.
Let me share a personal example. There was once a great guy. Things were going wonderfully until I anonymously wrote about him on an anonymous blog. No names were mentioned, and everything I said was magnificent and good, because he was someone who momentarily brought bliss into my life.
Oh, but then he submitted his response. He felt I exposed too much. Seeing his story in words – my words – freaked him out. He was nice about the freak out. Apologies were issued. Then, he bid adieu to me and the relationship.
Just in case you are wondering, I did not write anything about his manhood.
This particularl man was in awe of my writing. It was part of the attraction. I’m seeing a superstar in the making, he said. His words carried weight, for he read Pulitzers and Booker prize type of fiction. The realization that my writing turned him away was confusing, hurtful, and disorienting. Imagine the crashing sound of his departure from my life.
If you are a single female writer, there is something else to consider: the average person does not have an audience of any size. Most normal people out in the world do not have personal websites. I am not well known, but because I have books out in the world, I’ve guested on national radio shows, popular podcasts, public radio, and Internet talks shows. Unlike the average person, I’ve conducted few public lectures, I have an official blog, and a (rarely functioning and frustrated) website.
A great deal of my life is available for anybody to digest, anywhere in the world. This makes any single woman potentially vulnerable. Yet, this reality also provides a litmus test for potential partners.
For example, I met a man at a conference where I delivered a lecture. He indicated interest. After six months of my acquaintance, he surprised me by how little he knew about my life. A mere ten second Google search would have provided massive opportunities to learn a great deal. I couldn’t figure out what part of me he found interesting if he knew so little.
Writing is the great act of freedom and independence, regardless if you make money at it. Writing anything public, be it a blog or a book, is like throwing a pebble into water. Ripples go out from the point of impact. You have some control over who reads your work (hopefully your target audience), but you have little control over their response to it. Your words become ripples out in the world. There is great power in this and some people are rightfully scared of it.
But writing is lonely, especially for women. There is something romantic about the artsy, single male author. There are books and movies about such men. Women writers aren’t often afforded such benevolent archetypes. In fact, we often have to sacrifice a great deal to build even a closet-sized writing “room of our own” in our daily lives.
It isn’t easy finding supportive companions. Words reveal a certain truth that lingers in the world differently than images and sound. This is a scary type of girl power.
Many women write because this is how we create our world. We need partners that have superpowers of their own — mainly, the ability to be a life sidekick to their metaphysically endowed wife/girlfriend.
I end with a witty, accurate quote from a male writer:
“Women writers make for rewarding (and efficient) lovers. They are clever liars to fathers and husbands; yet they never hold their tongues too long, nor keep ardent typing fingers still.”