Let me tell you a story… about being a 'plus one.'
Ever since I was a little girl, my mother could create a story that seemed like it would never end. In fact, these five words have followed me through my life, “Let me tell you a story.”
My first memories of these words came when I was little, and my mom wanted to talk about something. It usually meant I was in trouble or she had distressing news to deliver. She would sit close and that’s how it always began. After all, how can you be upset, if the person who loves you the most, is beside you? Once we were settled, she would begin all her talks the same way, with those five words: “Let me tell you a story.”
These stories would range from memories of when she was growing up, or experiences she has had
being a parent, and most importantly they all pertained to the topic she wanted to discuss with you. Unfortunately, about twenty minutes later, when it seemed the story would never end, she would finally make her point. It was her way of transitioning into whatever it was that she wanted to say. As I got older, the stories grew longer. After all, as you grow up your depth of understanding is greater, and thus needs extensive explanation, right? Wrong.
Once her stories starting hitting the thirty minute mark, I started turning to her and asking her to just spit it out because I had stuff to do, like homework or violin practice. She would always laugh and finally get to the point. This still happens today. Me at twenty-six, still having cuddle sessions with my mom when she has something important to discuss. However, as soon as we are settled and she utters her famous words, “Let me tell you a story,“ I turn to her and give her a look and she spits out the point. It only took 22 odd years to achieve this, and I wouldn’t trade a minute of it for the world. Now that we are all settled in, let me tell you a
Being the “plus one” to a writer is a hard job. You might be a daughter, son, mother, sister, or husband. The job you have is a hard one but do not fear, you are not alone. The same frustrations you have with your writer are the same I have with mine. Well, for the most part, I am hoping to hear other’s stories because at this point, I have been by myself for a bit. These frustrations range from paper everywhere, discussions of fictional characters at length till they feel like they are real, and even to feeling like you are ignored. The best
advice I can give on these frustrations is as follows:
Invest in boxes or bags. Old shoe boxes, mail boxes, and even the cloth bags from the grocery store works. When the paper is everywhere on every surface, just put it in a box. Not all the papers together, mind you. What was on the desk goes in one box, on the table in another, the sticky notes that have somehow made it all over the bathroom mirror, also in another box. That way, when the writer in your life comes careening around the corner in a panic because they can’t find the papers from the desk, you can calmly point to the box and the crisis is adverted. For your fictional character problem? Don’t fight it. Ask for daily updates, ask questions, and welcome them into the family. One, it will help your writer explore the depths of the characters they are creating. Two, it will help them with ideas for plots if you ask what direction they are going in or what they like to do. Who knows, by asking if the duchess loves purple roses might inspire the writer in your life to realize that the rose is the key to how all the ladies of the ton are being killed. A prick of a thorn from a rose. And three, it will show them that you care about what they are doing. It is hard
enough to follow your dreams and make them a reality and even harder when they aren’t supported.
Finally, and this is important to remember, you are never ignored. It may feel like it a good eighty percent of the time but you are not ignored. Your mere presence is an inspiration every day to the writer in your life. Not just for characters, plot lines, cover quotes, catch phrases, or as a beta reader. You are an inspiration for them to follow their dreams. Every day they see or talk to you, they are reminded of the reason they are writing. They write because the words they harbor inside are too much to keep at bay but they also write to share their souls with the ones they love, their “plus ones”.
Now I could continue to prattle on because I mean honestly, I did learn from the best. Are you ready for the point yet? The point is this, being a plus one is a hard job but it is the most vital job of the writing team.
You, as a plus one, are the John Watson to your Sherlock Holmes. Holmes is a good man on his own, but he is a great man because he has a Watson.
Until next time my plus ones.