Writers’ loved ones are the world’s most patient people — after taxi drivers in the arrivals lounge, anyway. They really deserve so much better than the crap they get served by writers in full-blown writing mode, word-wangling somewhere up their own W-hole.
Here’s a customisable letter of apology the average writer can use to start building bridges with their nearest and dearest.
Dear [housemate / parent / husband / wife / girlfriend / boyfriend / child / neglected pet]
I’m writing to say sorry for writing. I know you think my withdrawal from [our relationship / the normal world / this plane of consciousness / sociable activities / your needs] is because I’m moody or fed up with you or something. Well, I’m not. Truth is, it’s all because I realised (please choose all that apply):
a) You never, ever get to read the finished stories I write, only the terrible drafts that your insight dramatically improves. This basically means my stories should have ‘co-written by [your name] on them’ and let’s face it, that would be terrible for my career – which makes it all the worse.
b) My first chapter doesn’t work – the first line doesn’t flow into the second. The second doesn’t flow into the third. (The fourth doesn’t exist yet but we’ll get there.)
c) My main character has fallen down a deep plot hole.
d) My other characters are doing whatever the hell they want and nothing can change it, or stop them.
e) I have an embarrassing lack of foresight when I slag off other writers, agents and publishers on social media.
f) Many of my characters just can’t stop themselves admiring their own curves in the mirror.
g) I felt like I ‘must’ kill off ‘vital characters’ for ‘drama’s sake’ because ‘George RR Martin does it all the time’.
h) I am utterly compelled to do this thing, this writing. Absolutely chained to it, with no choice in the matter whatsoever, even though I hate it and tell the world I hate it and don’t really do it much anyway, except for the odd occasion I go to a party, tell everyone I’m a writer, then steal a good anecdote and pass it off as something I made up.
i) I’m not starving like they say I should be. (Actually I’m not even hungry because I’ve binge-eaten all the good bits the big food shop you did two days ago.)
Now, I probably won’t change all that much because I’M A WRITER after all, but I’d like to say that from here I’ll make a lot more effort by at least trying to turn off my laptop when you ask how it’s going and whether I’m happy with it or whatever.
I won’t sulk when you put the telly on and eat your tea while I AM WRITING. I’ll never forget that you are unendingly loyal and make me such lovely [brews / toast / dinner / tea]. The [brew / toast / dinner / tea] that sometimes goes cold because LET ME JUST GET THIS LINE DOWN OH GOD YOU’VE RUINED MY TRAIN OF THOUGHT NOW WHAT DO YOU WANT FROM –
I’ll never stop appreciating that when we’re [in your favourite restaurant / in bed with no clothes on / cuddling in the settee / out for a big one] you seem so patient with the fact I’m [putting notes in my phone / stealing your anecdotes / earwigging for juicy dialogue instead of listening to you / taking mental photos of architecture because the city is one of my characters too you know / being a self-involved bell-end].
And I will definitely never assume that dedicating some of my writing to you will be enough to make up for it.
Thanks again, [loved one].
PS. Please read the first three chapters of my latest thing or I just won’t have the confidence to continue with it. It’s all on you now. I’ve left them in your bag (I also robbed your apple – soz).