Why You Should Not Befriend a Writer

Why You Should Not Befriend a Writer

I have a standing date with my group of girlfriends – beautiful, smart, funny, amazing women – where we order wine by the bottle and talk about…well, I’m not allowed to tell you what we talk about. I have become the person at whom people shout, “You cannot put this in your blog!” And I won’t. I’ll put it in a book.

Writers make horrible friends. If you have one that has not yet ruined your life, they will. You should probably run now while you can. Except, really, it’s too late. Even if you pack tonight and move to Moldova, ten years from now that story about how your marriage really ended is going to end up in the mouth of a character on the NY Times bestseller list. Then your ex-wife is going to call. Then her lawyer is going to call. Except you won’t know what they’re saying because the phone lines aren’t so great in Moldova.

Someone once said to me every character in your work is some aspect of yourself. Meh. I think about half my characters are me. The other half are bits and pieces of people who have the misfortune to stand in line next to me at the grocery store, the woman behind the counter at the DMV, a waitress in a bar in San Francisco from three years ago. I’m like a magpie, collecting shiny personality traits and bits of dialogue tinsel to carry back to my nest.

There are unfortunate side effects, even if you discount the large number of people I know who have decamped to former Soviet Bloc countries. I’m socially inappropriate about 78% of the time. I stare at people in public. I listen to their conversations. I write down what they say on napkins. I once covered an entire paper plate with scribbles at a picnic and then shouted at a friend not to eat off my notes.

I stare off into space a lot. Sometimes this leads to drooling. I work strange hours. I often choose foods based upon whether or not I can eat them at my desk and how many crumbs that might lead to. Crackers are a problem.

Of course, should you find yourself related to a writer, well, there’s really nothing you can do. Hallmark should make a card for that. And truly, you have my condolences.

Now, tell me about your first marriage…

4 Comments

  • Janice

    09.11.2009 at 15:07

    And then there are the people who tell you things you don’t want to know… “Hey, you’re a writer. You need material!”

  • Jackie Houchin

    09.11.2009 at 15:09

    Very funny post, Ashley. You should write a book. ;o) I’ve used people or situations in some of my stories – disguised of course. And, like you, *I* also appear as the heroine or irritating minor character. Thanks for the laugh today.

  • Jessica

    09.11.2009 at 15:49

    Good to know Ashley; thanks for the tip! 🙂

  • Kate Thornton

    09.11.2009 at 17:26

    I love it when people are practically shouting into their phones, then give you the fish eye because you are listening to them. I make a point of listening, sometimes even commenting on their conversations. Why else would they be doing this thing within my earshot? And yes, they usually appear in a story as the bumpkin victim of some grisly crime…