I will never date another writer. Or, I will never date a writer who finds himself in competition with me when it comes to conveying what we know about the human condition. I made this mistake during my last year of college. I fell for someone who loved the Beats, who lived his life like he only cared about sex, veganism, and poetry. He had hung prayer flags outside of his little house and every time I went over, I had to compete with his dog for space on the couch. The dog always came first, I was merely a visitor.
The other mistake I made, besides dating him so long, was to share my writing with him. He hated my poems and to be honest, so did I. My real babies were my short stories and I should never have shared my writing with him. He looked down upon it and thought his stuff was better. He thought the best way to write anything was when drunk.
His best friend was one of my classmates and one night we all sat around in the living room drinking beer and talking. His friend and I made a reference to something in class and he told us to shut up. It wasn’t until later, when I reflected on the evening, that it occurred to me that maybe he resented us for being literature students. Maybe he didn’t see the value in the Bachelor’s degree like we did. I’ll never know, but it did make me feel ashamed for a short time. I wondered if maybe he thought being an English student was a farce and that I could have just learned everything about writing on my own. But my goals weren’t all about becoming a writer. I knew exactly what I was doing by earning that degree because I knew that I wanted to be an English teacher.
Before him, I had never felt a sense of competition with my boyfriends. Their interests were always somewhere else and my passions were never in conflict with theirs. I’ve dated engineers, musicians, mechanics, and cooks. They never put down my writing and they never made me feel like my career goals were stupid. Not that I needed their approval, but there came a time when I couldn’t even look at my own reflection and it was a result of taking everything the writer said so seriously. For being so into literature, he never praised my beauty the way Shakespeare did in his sonnets. Maybe he thought he was put on this earth to pick up where Bukowski and Kerouac left off.
I’ll never date another writer if he is anything like the last one. I don’t want him to advise me on how to write and I don’t want to ever accidentally tell him what he should be doing with his own work. I once made the mistake of telling a singer how he should have sung a certain line of “Hallelujah” and this was very upsetting to him. You just should never tell someone how to do their work the same as you shouldn’t tell a mother how she should be raising her children. I will listen to and take advice from other writers, but not while we are romantically involved.
I’m sure that not every writer is difficult to love. Two writers can share love and not hurt each other too badly, but at some moments, they will have to witness some fragility. They will have to be supportive when rejection letters come in or when book deals fall apart. For me, however, it will be best to the be the only one in the house whose craft it is to string together words in the hopes of connecting to others. He can be better than I am at building computers, but he can’t borrow my pens.
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