It is not a question of whether writers, by nature, are unable to commit. It’s also not a matter of an inability to be monogamous. Instead, it is often beyond our control that our passion—the ferocity of feeding it and the love for it—cause us to stray.
Does this make us cheaters? Yes. Liars? Sometimes. Is it necessary? Often times.
So, how am I—a married writer—so openly discussing my love affair? It is because my affair isn’t with another person. My ongoing, tumultuous, and passionate liaison has been and still is with my writing.
How can a writer cheat with writing? You huff in exasperation. It is easy when writing doesn’t pay the bills, reassure the family, impress the crowd, or make one feel secure.
There are many reasons why a person cheats on a spouse. Among them is unhappiness in a present relationship, excitement seeking, falling out of love with the current person, and falling in love with a new person. These reasons aren’t so different for the person flirting with writing.
There are thousands of writers—enthusiastic hopefuls—who pen their stories, print the words, and hawk their books, but it is only a few whose voices rise above the din. These are the writers, nay authors, who have the privilege of committing to their “lover” openly and completely. The writers who marry their paramours and live an unrestricted life dedicated to their one, true love, unbridled in their devotion. J.K. Rowling, Jodi Picoult, John Grisham to name a few.
The rest of us writers are forced to keep our love a secret, smuggling in bits of time between our other commitments—our jobs, our family. Our reasons for having a love affair with writing are as diverse as those who cheat on their spouse. And it is our reasoning that determines whether our affair is worth the effort and dedication to turn our tryst into a faithful union.
Some write on the side because they are tired and bored of their current relationship with data entry, accounting, teaching. The romantic notion of penning the great American novel seduces the 9-5er into sneaking paragraphs and surreptitiously writing sentences after midnight. These writers have an affair with writing to escape not to settle down.
Then there are those who seek excitement. Writing is an adventure; a path that veers from the known course. A literary affair is a thrilling venture to be taken and experienced but it is also one quickly cast off when another comes along.
The final reasons are love—falling out and falling in. Some write because they have fallen out of love with editing, nursing, running a corporation. This love doesn’t last because it is only a replacement for a lost one.
But the writers who regardless of their day job, friend’s comments, or others’ scrutiny have and continue their affair with writing because they love it have the strongest chance of turning that dalliance into a long, committed, open relationship. How?
You make your affair with writing a lasting, devoted relationship by making it your only one. It may not be possible to quit your day job but you don’t have to…right now. But you do have to identify as and tell others that you are a writer—now and always. Be proud of your commitment to a difficult career path. Don’t hide it. Be open about your passion so that others can see that it is more than an affair, it is a true, lasting, faithful love.
Thank you for reading. I look forward to your comments.