The holidays are coming up, families and friends gathering around tables to eat and chat. Unfortunately, this year, your table will be containing with someone inflicted with the dreaded Writer-Itis.
We’ve all been there, dreading the meal, wondering what the Writer in our life will talk about next. But here are a few Dos and Don’t to make your holiday a joyful one.
Writer-Itis is a common disease which affects adults, and even some teenagers, with strange delusions. They not only are besieged by visions of other worlds, but their minds become populated with strange characters who they often insist are real people, with desires and personalities like you and me. Writer-Itis becomes full-fledged when infected Writers begin committing these visions to paper.
At this point, the Writer will leave all denial behind and begin to insist that they are not inflicted. When they are not beset by these flights of fancy, they actually pine for them, moaning that their imaginary worlds have been “blocked.” Many act as if addicted to a powerful drug, performing seemingly-meaningless rituals such as obsessively drinking hot beverages in order to jump-start their visions.
Yet you should not fear as a holiday host. A Writer’s quiet sensitivities to the world around them can make a great addition to the holiday table, so long as you follow these simple guidelines:
Do treat the writer like a normal person. Offer them the same foods you would any other guest, and allow them to sit at the grown-up table. They will enjoy the novel experience of socialization (pardon the pun).
Do not make them use plastic silverware, unless, of course, everyone else is too. Yes, Writers talk to imaginary people all day, but they also frequently plot unsolvable murders. You never know what will push them over the edge.
Do ask the writer how their job is going. Though Writers often believe that their fantasies will bring them cash and fame, they rarely make money off their scribblings, and therefore will likely have another job. Inquiring about their hobbies is equally acceptable.
Do not mention famous Writers who have made lots of money. This is a big mistake, compounded by the words, “Why not be like them?” Chances are, the Writer you are dealing with already believes they are like a certain famous Writer, if only the world would recognize their talents as something other than insanity.
Do ask if the Writer has read any good books lately. Writers are often avid readers, and are under the strange impression that if they recommend enough books to others, their friends and family will want to read the Writer’s books as well. A generous host will allow the Writer this delusion for the holiday; after all, it is the season of good will.
Do not ask the Writer how they are coping with the vagaries of their condition. They will either drone at length about their imaginary friends and monopolize the conversation, or go silent in understanding of the unacceptability of their way of life to society, making for an awkward pause in the conversation.
Hint: DO NOT REFER TO THEIR CONDITION AS A DISEASE. Many Writers actually are unaware of how much they are hurting, and refer to Writer-Itis as a “gift.” When corrected, they may become combative and unpleasant. Even Writers who understand the seriousness of the situation will be riled by being labeled as diseased.
And finally, in case someone accidentally violates the above rules and the table has decided to discuss Writer-Itis:
Do Not, under any circumstances, ask if the writer is trying to get published. Even those long affected with Writer-Itis recognize the shamefulness of this act, and prefer not discuss it in public. Treat this subject like you would asking about someone’s personal grooming habits: do so away from others, in a discreet manner, while letting the Writer know you are not judging their personal life. Or better yet, don’t do it at all.
If the Writer you know has aired their delusions to the rest of the world in the form of publishing them, and wants this fact known, they will bring it up themselves, much like a toddler presenting a trusted adult with a favorite toy. Praise the Writer, and then move on to topics more suited to polite conversation.
Keep in mind that though Writer-Itis is mildly contagious, it will not spread through casual contact. To avoid picking up the contagion, merely avoid having unprotected written discourse with the infected individual. A Writer can be included in your holiday without exposing your guests to undue harm.
The holiday season is a time for embracing all those in our lives, especially those like Writers who need a little extra help. With careful interactions and an emphasis on real-world topics, you can show the Writer in your life that there is a whole world out there outside their head, and in the spirit of the holidays, please, welcome them to join it anytime.