FUNNY WOMEN #132: How to Date a Writer


Meeting/Hooking the Writer

Buy or borrow a book by the targeted Writer—any book, though the first book will get you the farthest. If there is no book, then choose a recently published poem, short story, essay, or tweet. Memorize a line—any line. It’s the Writer’s line. Upon meeting the Writer, endeavor to say nothing before you say this line. Then, slowly, shake the Writer’s hand, smile, look up (either beaming or awed) into the writer’s face, and toss off this line.

Wait for the delighted recognition of her/his written words from your mouth. Say, “I love that line. Incredible.”

Don’t hover. (This would make you a fan, not a love interest.)

Step away.

Move on gently with a backward wave, smile, or gaze that conveys, Wow, I get you.


First Date with the Writer

Arrive on time. Any time spent (wasted) with you is time not spent on writing. Go with the flow (the Writer’s; you are Audience). Listen closely. Any line said by the Writer is Very Important. Failure to recall a Writer’s line will be met with 1) disbelief, 2) hostility, and 3) head-shaking scorn at your betrayal/ineptitude.

Daly1After your date, do NOT call/text (interrupt/disturb) the Writer. The Writer has Writing to do.

Wait for the Writer to call/text (remember/need something) from you. Continue waiting.

If you break down and call/text, you are Interrupting the Writer. Instead stake out places you know the Writer might be. Plant yourself at his/her coffee shop/bookstore/place of employment and act surprised when you see the Writer. Repeat the wave, smile, or gaze from above that conveys, Wow, I get you.


Dating The Writer

Be intelligent and talented. Be a writer if you MUST. But always keep in mind that the Writer, not you, is the Real Writer.

Keep yourself focused on the Real Writer’s work. The Real Writer may show casual avuncular interest in your writing or pay occasional attention to your work, but do not expect or ask for this. This undermines the Real Writer and, if repeated, could (will) erode your likability.

Should you insist on continuing to be a writer yourself, maintain humility about any personal writing achievements.

Arrange your life around the Real Writer’s work patterns. Do not attempt to have the Real Writer change his/her schedule in any way. Example: If the Real Writer has problems with your sleeping over because it disturbs his/her workDaly2 in the morning, then do the following:

                        a. forgo sleeping over at the Writer’s apartment/sanctuary.

If you must stay at the Writer’s sanctuary, then do the following:

  1. Arise before dawn, before the Writer has opened an eyelid
  2. Do not shower
  3. Do not put on coffee
  4. Do not have breakfast


Appreciate that writers have big needs: for food, exercise, sex, etcetera. Let the Writer eat, drink, and exercise however preferred. Writers’ rituals are holy. Only the Writer knows the exact combination of excess, self-denial, flagellation, whiskey, and medicinal massage that will enable Writing.

Be open, at any time, to the Writer reading new (or old) work aloud to you, for as long as desired, whenever it suits. When the Writer reads to you, do not interrupt—the Writer has already anticipated your question, and your question only signifies your failure to understand.

Do NOT criticize the Writer’s work. Criticism, however minor, is FATAL to your relationship with the Writer. Do not, also, attempt to improve the writing. The writing needs no improvement.


Still Dating the Writer

Spent months, years, a decade loving and supporting your Writer to the best of your ability. Expecting to see the book dedicated to you? Don’t. Hope for a line at the back of the book. Don’t be surprised if your name seems to come beside a phrase that actually flatters the Writer, such as “my wife who recognizes true art,” or “my girlfriend Trish who saw my brilliance from one look in my eyes.”

Hope that you might be “material” for the Writer. Being material can be part of the thrill. Do not, however, be upset if your Writer portrays your worst traits or has a character greatly resembling you die suffering a miscarriage in the backwaters of Mexico or be locked up in an institution.

Writers are often secretive and moody. This moodiness is something you must watch closely. As a mother watches a child’s face, and anticipates the child’s every need, so you must do with the Writer.

It is very likely that your Writer, citing Tolstoy or some other Writer who had many students to help as his office assistants, requests that you, too, be his secretary or assistant. Do not say “yes,” unless he offers you money. Do not accept an offer, for example, of any other currency such as “kisses.”


Bonus: More tips on getting along with your Targeted Writer

  1. Do not let other people/events/situations crowd/overwhelm the Writer: the Writer is sensitive and any infringement on the Writer’s time/space can be hazardous to her/him and others/you.
  2. Don’t ask when the Writer’s book or essay will be finished or published.
  3. Don’t mention “best-seller” in any context.
  4. Daly3Presents: The best present for a Writer is a pricey leather-bound copy of one (or all) of the Writer’s works. See: Advantage Book Binding
  5. Sunday brunch: Always let the Writer choose the brunch destination. The Writer is only allowed out in the world for limited occasions and knows exactly what the Writer wants. On the other hand, should your Writer be too fatigued from the genius of her/his talent to make any plans at all, realize that you must always choose the brunch destinations (and food and means of getting to and from brunch).
  6. Movies: As above.
  7. Day excursions: As above.
  8. Evening outings: as above.
  9. Vacations: As above.
  10.  If a rejection letter arrives (don’t assume it will), then leave the Writer alone. If there’s yelling, weeping, howling, silence, or resolves to quit Writing, say and do nothing but offer some kisses—or, even better—your body—or, better still— order/pre-order (multiple copies of) the Writer’s book from your local independent bookstore.



Rumpus original art by Annie Daly. Purchase Annie’s art here.


Please submit your own funny writing to our Rumpus submission manager powered by Submittable. See first: our Funny Women Submission Guidelines.

To read other Funny Women pieces and interviews, see the archives.

Louise Wareham Leonard's just-published 52 Men is excerpted on The Rumpus, The Tin House blog Open Bar, and Fiction Advocate. See for book launch and other events. More from this author →