How to Seduce a Writer
Neil Gaiman recently wrote a humorous post giving detailed instructions on how to seduce a writer.
I objected, impolitely, over Twitter. I realize that I should have been more restrained, but what he said really bothered me and I stand by the essence of my objection, which is outlined below.
Neil responded, politely, with the suggestion that I write my own instructions.
The thing is, I don’t have any dispute with Neil over whether or not his method would work. In fact, I agree with him completely. I’m certain that I would, were I not already romantically involved, respond immediately and favourably, to a note which read, “YOU ARE INVITED TO A SEDUCTION: Please come to dinner on Friday Night. Wear the kind of clothes you would like to be seduced in.”
However, I’m quite sure that such a note would work on anyone, not just a writer — which is part of my point. Writers (and here I include myself) tend to believe that they are special. They are not. They have specialized skills, just as a surgeon does, or a chef, or an architect, or a research scientist, or a computer programmer.
(1) Anybody who is constantly engaged in demanding mental activity is likely to be — to varying degrees — insensitive to external stimuli, including subtle invitations to seduction.
(2) I do not believe that Neil would have become the writer he is without being sensitive to the people around him and observing them very closely. I believe that in order for a writer to populate his stories with full and meaningful characters, he must intuit what the people around him every day are thinking and feeling; he must be able to discern their motivations and their intentions; he must be able to empathize with them in many ways.
Therefore, I believe that it does any writer a great disservice to imply that the theatre in his head is so much more engrossing than that playing out in his real life that he would be completely oblivious to sexual advances less obvious than an explicit INVITATION TO A SEDUCTION. It demeans one of his primary skills as a writer, which is to observe, keenly and perceptively, the unfolding world around him.
In fact, I believe that it should be far easier to seduce a writer than a member of the general population because: (i) the writer is by nature more attuned to his human environment than, say, a computer programmer, whose only interaction is with what he sees on screen, or a scientist who is constantly engaged with the inanimate world; and (ii) the writer’s fertile imagination makes him a primed target.
It is on this basis that I called bullshit on Neil’s post. My opinion is that he went for the laugh rather than for the truth, especially because he was egged on by a flattering questioner who quite blatantly expected his answer to be “spectacular.” I am willing to be corrected on this point and I welcome feedback from Neil, or any other interested party.
I also apologize to Neil for my being a needlessly belligerent ass over Twitter. The world needs fewer belligerent asses.
(Tangentially relevant aside: For a creator to suggest that a critic should make his own version of whatever the creator creates is a cloaked ad hominem attack on the critic cum appeal to authority of and by the creator. Basically, it’s a two-fold logical fallacy and is akin to a vintner insisting that a wine critic should be able to make his own wine. I understand fully that the tenor of my tweet left Neil little recourse, and that perhaps that this humorous topic isn’t grist for serious debate, but I hope that my response raises the level of discourse.)
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