When someone nags you, the usual response is to say, “Knock it off!” As a whole, people don’t like to be nagged. We’ll get to whatever it is when we’re bloody well ready thank you!
But sometimes we need to be nagged. Some people don’t get anything done unless they are nagged. Some projects require that kind of hovering as well. We’ve heard or seen stories about the man complaining about their wife nagging them, usually with a mimicking of a high pitch voice to amplify what the wife in question is sounding like. It always sounds worse than it does.
Well, a writer is one of those people who needs a nagger. I’m sure there are some out there that don’t need one, I wouldn’t doubt it. I’m also equally as sure that there are people who simply say that so-in-so merely supported them instead of nagged. While it’s true, the support part, the reality is that once again us writers are conducting subconscious warfare on ourselves. We allow the supporting cast to nag us though we won’t say it that way unless we’re completely open about it (or tricked into it).
The role of the nagger, whether they are a spouse, friend or simple writing buddy, is quite simple. Their job is to ask for a chapter or section of the story. They read it, they like it (or even if they don’t like it they pretend they do or tell us why they don’t) then they constantly, over a period of months ask the fateful question: “Where’s the next part?”
It starts slow, gradual, months pass the first time before they get impatient and demand, “I need the next part, what happened next?” Or “Did you make any changes to what I’ve read? Can I see it?” Then you oblige, grudgingly but also nervously because you honestly want to know what they think…or so you tell yourself. You mutter to them how inconvenient it is, that you’ll get it to them when you bloody well finish and that they should show some patience! Yet, still you send it. It mollifies them for another few months, subtract just one week from their patience then they are back again asking, “What happened next? Where’s the next chapter?”
Again, because you actually finished it two weeks prior, you give it to them while muttering to just yourself this time that impatience never gets anyone far in life. By now they probably have three or four chapters worth of your story and the nagger begins to get a bit more irritating. While they are still polite about it, they ask once again can they have the next chapter, have you finished it yet? If not, then when you finish it can they have it?
Just to satisfy this person because in truth you don’t want to tell them to shove it where the sun doesn’t shine, you write more faster…and faster…and faster until not a week passes between sending of individual parts before this special person(s) ask “Where’s the next part! Write faster damn it!”
You’re annoyed, you’re gritting your teeth as you shove the next and final piece in their hand and say “THERE! Now you have all of it, now SHUT UP!”
You huff, you puff then realize in a blink of an eye that you actually finished a 200+ page novel in just under 18 months because this well-meaning person(s) badgered you until you had finished the damn thing. The nagger, for their part, glorify in the fact that they got to read it first of all the people in the world. That while it’s not perfect (first drafts never are) it’s still a story that captivated them. These people rarely realize that they played an even bigger part to writing the book unless told by the writer themselves “I never would have finished this story if it hadn’t been for you badgering me.”
Do we tell them? Of course not because to do so might risk them not doing it again and we all need, nay, want someone to badger us until we’re huffing and puffing to keep up with the ever-present demand that this individual(s) placed upon us.
Does this psychology work on other aspects of life beyond the writer? I would assume so, not just creatively but would I get my house clean and keep it somewhat reasonable if it wasn’t for the children always wanting to play on the floor or the need for counter space? Probably not, why? Because I’m lazy. I’d rather stretch the creative instead of the physical muscles during the day. It’s natural, it’s expected and yet I’m nagged into doing it.
The role of nagger is never pleasant, no one wants to think of themselves being that pushy. Well, I say to all the naggers out there in the world, do not be ashamed of your talent. You spur people on, push them forward when they need it and sometimes when they don’t want it. To those of us that are privy to their talents, don’t scorn, shout or ignore the attempts, look it at in a different light. That they are needed, as much as the writer, the editor, the publisher and even the advertiser.
Nag my friends, nag and be done with it.
In this post I would like to pay special homage to a very good friend of mine that is my personal nagger. If it hadn’t been for her I probably wouldn’t have had Memory Lane finished in less than two years. (Which reminds me, I need to send her LwP, perhaps she’ll have an idea of where to slip in 17,000 words…)
So to Samantha, I tip my hat off to you. Thank you and please continue to bug the hell out of me.
(republished and edited from an entry from a past blog done in Aug 2009)