Whether you keep record of the glorious or the grotesque, beware the lover whose first impression of you is forged through your work. The suitor who falls, head first, for your words — their beauty or strangeness; their raw, vein-opening properties; their subtle choreography across a page — will never truly know you. He may think you part-goddess, a sorcerer, a changeling, confusing your rare talent with an unattainable affection. For him, your heart is only to be apprehended in increments, a collection of short, amorphous fictions. For him, you are slightly more than mortal, a creature to be loved but held aloft.
He is not wrong. You do possess a particular power; all women do. But for the writer in love, words are an amulet of impregnable potency. Carefully composed, your words can bear him up. They can be lowered into pits, dropped like ladders from the sky. They can carry him elsewhere. But they can also be a murder, an acquittal, an asylum.
Maddeningly, what they meant months or weeks or mere hours ago may not be what they mean the next moment.
In this way, it is more possible for the woman-writer to destroy something essential in a suitor than it is for any other construct of woman in existence. It is right for the men we love to treat us gingerly.
If we are idealized, it is, at first, not entirely unwelcome. We intend, however quietly, to be adored. Here is our secret: we do not feel mortal, not always. When we are with the work, in solitude, we are transcendent. And when we emerge, we covet the worlds of our making, disappointed when we look up and find ourselves tethered to a reality we cannot so easily bend. No, we do not expect to die; our words, should they reach the eyes of future generations, will regenerate us.
Writers may be more reclusive — may appear more enigmatic — than actors, but we court a similar importance, perhaps especially in our romances. We may come to our lovers as casks filled with nothing save our insecurities, and expect that they empty us then refill us with affirmation. We may find ourselves unable to fully invest in their conversation or emotion, so preoccupied are we with capturing the moment for later freeing on an empty page. We may pummel them with a deluge of missives and demand that they respond in kind. And if our dealings with them begin to breach that most sacred of spaces — the space within which we create — we will grow to resent them.
It is unsurprising, then, that the layman who falls for a writer often feels he has gotten both more and far less that he’s bargained for.
But woe unto the woman-writer who becomes enamored of one of her own. They will be as two tempests in battle, each on quests to throw the brighter bolt of lightening. Whether hot or cold, they will gasp under the weight of all their words. The lava and the avalanche are equally likely to consume them.
None of this is to say that we should resolve ourselves to solitude. It is simply a reminder. We must never let our power corrupt our ability to care. We must remind ourselves that the bone and the breath, the warm inner skin of a palm, belong to a person and not to one of our paragraphs. If we are to love at all, we must understand our limits. Though our words may grant us second life, it is only this first in which we are able to truly live.
2 responses to “The Writer, In and Out of Love.”
Ha! How true is this statement? – “We may find ourselves unable to fully invest in their conversation or emotion, so preoccupied are we with capturing the moment for later freeing on an empty page.” – Very true! LOL
I’m speechless. Beautifully written….just breathtaking. I only wish I’d read this before falling in love with another ‘writer.’