Thursday, May 29, 2014

Is Your Partner a Shadow Writer?

From the book Interplay: Finding the Keys to Creativity

“On the singles market, struggling
writers rank somewhere below
ex-cons, carnival ride operators
and male day-care workers.”

            --Bill Burman, playwright

Is Your Partner a Shadow Writer?

Take this quiz to determine if your beloved is joyful or jealous
of your way with words.

First published in Writer’s Digest

Perhaps the most potent idea to come out of Julia Cameron’s
landmark 1992 book, The Artist’s Way, is the notion of the
Shadow Artist, an archetypal figure who tries to compensate
for his own blocked creativity by latching onto an actual
artist and lavishing praise on her.
Oh, I know. You’re thinking, What’s so bad about being
lavished with praise? You might feel differently on that
eventual morning when Shnookums rolls over in bed and
says, “Honey, it’s great that you’re an artist and all, but
when are you going to get a real job?” Because adoration,
left in the sun for too long, has a way of turning to bitter,
coagulating resentment – and you have the nerve to be
living your partner’s dream!
Congratulations – you have just been targeted for a lengthy
campaign of passive-aggressive sabotage from a Shadow Writer.
The obvious thing for a writer to do is to avoid these people
like the lactose intolerant avoid ice cream. But it ain’t easy,
because many of them resemble normal, even likable human
beings. With that in mind, I offer the following quiz. Find
out now: is your partner a shadow writer?

1. When my Hot Potatah goes to a karaoke bar, he likes to…
A.         Have a drink and listen to the singers belt out a few
B.         Have a couple of drinks and try out one of his favorite
C.         Have several drinks and try to get everyone else to sing
oneof his favorite songs.

2. My Pug-Nose Dream has some killer ideas that she’d
like to try out as soon as she…
A.         Gets some vacation time.
B.         Takes a writing class.
C.         Gets Stephen King to drop that nasty restraining order.

3. My Bubbelah says that the best thing about being an author
would be…
A.         Getting to share his ideas with the public.
B.         Improving his ability to express himself.
C.         Getting to wear tweed whenever he wanted!

4. If my Reason for Being and I were playing Scrabble,
and I spelled out “effervescence” over two triple-word
scores for a total of 192 points, she would…
A.         Congratulate me on my linguistic skill.
B.         Jokingly stab herself with an invisible knife.
C.         Douse the board with gasoline, light it on fire, and
toss it over the balcony into the busy intersection below.

5. When my Studmuffin meets a published author, he
likes to…
A.         Ask her about her latest project.
B.         Ask her for advice on writing.
C.         Give her a list of five or six books that she really
ought to read.

6. If I decided to leave writing for a more stable career,
my Pookie would…
A.         Help me to carefully consider my options before
making a decision.
B.         Tell me that whatever I decided was fine by her.
C.         Act elated, then dump me for a poet.

7. My Main Man’s favorite device for developing
ideas is…
A.         Clustering.
B.         Speedwriting.
C.         Searching “writer” on

8. On the night of my book release party, my Huggy Bear
is likely to ask…
A.         Isn’t this exciting?
B.         Are you nervous?
C.         Why is it always about you?

9. When pressed, my Darling Dude would admit that he
puts off writing because…
A.         His parents wanted him to be a doctor.
B.         He has a fear of rejection.
C.         Why bother writing when some big asteroid’s going
to hit the Earth anyway, the only survivors will be
cockroaches, and have you ever seen a cockroach trying
to use a typewriter? It’s pathetic.

10. I knew my Squirrelly Girl was interested in literature
when she...
A.         Asked me what I thought of magical realism.
B.         Mentioned a poetry reading she had attended.
C.         Showed up for our first date in a negligee made
entirely from typewriter ribbons.

11. When I wake up after an all-night deadline writing
session, I know that my Don Juan will…
A.         Make sure there’s a pot of coffee on.
B.         Give me a nice neck rub.
C.         Say, “Sure must be nice, getting to sleep in!”

12. If a friend of ours signed a huge publishing contract,
my Glamour Goddess would…
A.         Send him a handwritten note of congratulations.
B.         Throw a big party with all of our friends.
C.         Disappear into the night; leave me for him without
so much as a typewritter ribbon as a memento.

Scoring: If you answered C on three to four questions, you
and your sweetie might need to have a talk. If you answered
C on five to seven, you might want to seek counseling. If
eight to nine, please send us your sweetie’s name and photo
so we can put him or her on our Writer’s Digest Shadow
Writer Hotline. If 10 or more, we hear Mexico is really nice
this time of year. (If you answered C on Question 9, read
something by William S. Burroughs.)

Photo by MJV  (sculpture by Nina Koepcke)

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