It recently occurred to me that inviting a writer to your dinner party can be a dangerous thing. Writers’ minds don’t work like everyone else’s. When non-writers get together, the conversations move from topic to topic, with opinions being expressed and views exchanged, and at the end of the evening, everyone goes home saying what a great time they had, and didn’t So-and-So look fabulous, and wishing they’d asked the hostess for that sinfully rich chocolate soufflé recipe.
Put a writer in the mix and you have a literary wolf in sheep’s clothing (or in this case, designer jeans and a sparkly top) just waiting for a clue to be dropped.
Case in point, I was recently out with a group of friends, one of whom besides myself was a writer, and the conversation bounced along nicely until the writer happened to mention something she had seen during her vacation and WHAM! Our minds grabbed onto it and we said those fateful words, that would make a great book!
At this point, there are two things a writer can do. She can shelve the idea and continue being part of the conversation, though she may stray slightly by reaching for her phone, a notepad, a piece of paper, or a napkin (paper variety only please) and jot down a few ideas, but for the most part she remains an active participant in the evening and the host and hostess think kindly of her after she leaves.
The second thing a writer can do…is disengage. This is far more likely if there are two writers at the table. When the rest of the guests move on to pros and cons of renting a villa in Tuscany, the writers stay where they are, actively engaged in hashing out the next Great Idea. Because there’s something non-writers need to know about writers.
They feed off one another. They get excited about ideas, and though they don’t mean to be rude, they get caught up in the possibilities and start throwing out story scenarios. I call it living in the “what-if” world.
The other danger of inviting a writer to dinner is that you never really know what they’re thinking. I doubt many of them will come out and tell you they’re going to base a character in their next book on you, but the possibility always exists. So when you’re chatting about your brother’s crazy new girlfriend or your cousin’s messy divorce, you could be feeding their muse, and believe me, that little bitch is always hungry!
Writers love mysteries. They adore conflict and they relish passion. So what better place to get ideas for a story or a character than at a dinner party where a diverse group of people are sharing the ups and downs of their lives?
Writers. They can be a lot of fun…but invite them at your peril!
IMPROPER MISS DARLING, available now from Mills & Boon Historicals. Watch for NO OCCUPATION FOR LADY, coming October 2012.