Silvio Donà – Living with a non-famous writer

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I know what you are thinking:  this article should have been written by my wife.
However, it is also true that when you have known each other for a very long time – as we have – (I don’t know if you believe in reincarnation but I cannot exclude that some couples masochistically meet and marry again in any new life), you end up learning, if not to read your partner’s mind, at least to guess a significant part of her thoughts.
Actually, it is sometimes enough to catch the unusual lift of an eyebrow to understand that not only doesn’t she agree with what you have just said, but she is actually thinking in good conscience that you are a cunt.

So imagine that I am writing this article after reading her mind for about half an hour.
If you consider getting engaged, or somehow getting involved with a writer or an aspiring writer, you should know that you are committing, on one hand, to a life of poverty – since “carmina non dant panem” nor cheese or steaks; on the other hand, you are doomed to a promiscuous life, a turbid threesome in which there will always be him, her and the other woman. She is called Writing and will always be around, despotically requiring a significant part of your partner’s attention.

Just when you are in the middle of an extremely interesting conversation about how badly your friend Anastasia was dressed at Luciana’s wedding, at the exact moment when you are reaching a peak by describing how ugly and entreneuse-like those python shoes were (not to say hooker-like, which sounds bad if pronounced by a lady), you might see that gaze. The gaze of a person who shamelessly pretends to listen while he is thinking about something else. You will tell me: what’s new with that? Don’t all men do the same (after you have had sex with them)? Very true, but other men may be distracted by the common basic thoughts that are typical of the male brain: food, shit, football, new car.

You partner, however, being a writer of unquestionable talent and lack of fame, in all likelihood at that precise moment is mentally and emotionally with the “other one”! Writing! In his small perverse mind, he is probably thinking about a possible ending for his novel in progress; or, even worse, he is meditating about how to “cannibalise” the scene and dialogues you are describing and use them in some stories he had been thinking about for some time. This entails the risk of that damned story falling into the hands of Anastasia, who will immediately realise that it is about her – even if your partner has changed the names – and will never speak to you again. And this must not happen, since Anastasia works in your favourite perfumery and gives you a great discount!

The biggest problem of the unknown writer, however, is his volatile self-esteem. Non-famous writers’ self-esteem only peaks in extremely rare occasions, for example when he finishes the first draft of a new novel. But you, who are an expert and have been living with him for some time, know very well that it is only a brief interlude and that, the following day, when he starts re-reading his work, he will find it inevitably mediocre, totally unsatisfactory and he will immediately want to attempt suicide by drinking bathroom cleaning spray.

Some other situations that can boost his self-esteem are, for example, the news of a review of his book or of an “honorable mention” (honorable mention?) for the Literary Prize “Bacon Without Borders”; or even the enthusiastic email by Mrs. Pina from Gallarate writing to inform him that she has read his novel “Seven brides for seven penises” and has found it really moving. Never mind if the novel was comic and she didn’t understand it.
But these are all, precisely, a flash in the pan: for the rest of the time, the unknown writer, being mentally unstable, needs constant psychological assistance. Thus, the fate of the unknown writer’s partner is to learn some mantras by heart, including sentences such as: “You do have talent”; “The thing is that in Italy there is a literary mafia”; “Most people are too ignorant”; “I believe in you”, and so on.

Such sentences must be repeated at least daily, or even several times a day, if necessary. It does not matter if taken before or after mealtimes.
Supporting the non-famous writer’s self-esteem is essential for several reasons. First of all, if his self-esteem lowers too much, the non-famous writer will stop working. And I am not talking about literary work (if you were sure that he would not write anymore, you should have to consider it), but about real work. If he has low self-esteem, he will end up getting fired by the Land Registry or the bank. Are you kidding me? Then how will you pay off your mortgage? With the 27.55 Euros of annual royalties that come from his latest novel? Moreover, when the non-famous writer’s self-esteem lowers, then something else lowers too. How do you call it in this case? Shall we say it in English, so it sounds less vulgar? “The bird does not want thoughts” (the mental translation, however, should be done in Neapolitan, which sounds better).

So, if you still want to have sex with your non-famous writer every now and then, you have to “support” him somehow. I would suggest that you save money on the purchase of those little blue pills and use instead a dubious but almost free ploy: in the evening, when you are going to bed next to him, take the year’s best seller from the bedside table for a moment, then put it down with a (false) gesture of impatience and murmur: “This book is shit…do you want to know the truth? You write much better than this jerk!”. The result (within the limits of the non-famous writer’s power) is almost assured.

Translation by Valentina Ornaghi (edited by Camilla Girardi)

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Silvio Donà
Silvio Donà was born in Veneto, the same year in which the space probe Mariner 4 first landed on Mars. He lives in Puglia. He is married with two children, who objectively are the two most beautiful boys in the world. He (accidentally) graduated in Law, and now works in a bank’s legal office. He published with Leone Editore the sci-fi novels: "Extasia" (2015) e “Pinocchio 2112” (2009) and the short (ironic) “Luisa ha le tette grosse” (2011) (Luisa has big boobs); a reprint of this very same novel came in the summer of 2012 in the newsstands, paired with a national newspaper. Finalist in the 2011 edition of “Torneo letterario Io Scrittore” (Writers’ Literary tournement), he published an e-book with GEMS (Gruppo Editoriale Mauri Spagnol), the novel “Nebbie” (2012) (Fogs). He also loves to write short stories, which he has published in large number. He won several literary contests, among which ‘Premio Mondolibro’ and ‘Premio Orme Gialle’. Lately he had the weird idea to confront himself with screenplays as well; a work in partnership with Antonio De Santis has been optioned by a rising comedian and soon it should become a movie. He writes for some magazines and collaborates with his wife Imma, who recently has successfully managed to teach him how to iron. He manages his BLOG (updated when he can put his mind on it): http://silviodona.blogspot.it/ You can find him also on FACEBOOK: https://www.facebook.com/silvio.dona.7 and TWITTER: https://twitter.com/silvio_dona