Many column inches, and TV horror shows, are devoted to the common plagues that infest the modern home: bedbugs, locusts, cockroaches, termites. Any of these aforementioned brutes can cause serious damage to the fabric and foundations of any house. In some cases, if infestation is bad, there may be no solution but for the long-suffering homeowner to move out. They may have tried hoovering all of the soft furnishings obsessively every day; fumigated the whole house; hell, even smoking them out - but in the end, these little critters are the type who could still be standing after a nuclear holocaust. They were here before you, and they'll still be here long after you've gone.
But what of lesser-known plagues? There are, readers, other little bugs who infest your home; they suck up all the energy, turn the heating on when it's not even really all that cold, and they are wont to eat everything in the fridge and freezer before you know what's hit you. So, friends, readers, pest-control men, here are the essential signs you need to look for if you suspect a plague of writers in your home.
Are there notebooks everywhere? This is one of the first warning signs you need to look for. The notebook can be any size, or type, from the more expensive 'moleskine' type, to the cheap low-budget wire-bound options. Sufferers of particularly bad infestation of writers complain that they keep finding pieces of shredded paper all over the house, behind the sofa cushions and in the toaster, with frenziedly scribbled notes on both sides. Be on your guard if you spot any: this could be a sign that you have a writer in your house.
Do items keep mysteriously disappearing from the fridge? Writers are likely to feast on anything (noodles, salad, the remains of last night's tea) which is quick and convenient to prepare. They are focused creatures, and don't like to interrupt their creative process with anything so banal as preparing a proper meal. They have even been known to eat cold beans straight out of the can with a spoon, in lean times. Keep an eye out for the presence - or absence - of quick, convenient food in your refridgerator and cupboards. If the ramen noodles keep vanishing, you may have a plague of writers on your hands.
Are there coffee cup rings over every available surface? Are your tables and worktops residual with half-drunk cups of coffee (some with mould floating on the top)? Especially in cold weather, writers are notorious for warming their hands with mugs of warm beverage. Their tiny minds being so occupied with plot structure, narrative, and editing choices, they are unable to form basic tasks like rinsing a mug out. If you keep finding mugs all over the house, half-drunk and filled with spores: beware, more than likely you are sharing living space with a writer.
Do you keep hearing a low moaning sound (possibly agony, possibly concentratey) almost 'humanoid' in nature, emenating from one of the most isolated rooms in the house (e.g. garret, study)? This is one of the surest signs, and the worst indicator that you are sharing living space with a writer. Once your writer is firmly entrenched, he or she will take up residence in one of the least frequently disturbed areas of the house. They do not like to be disturbed, and tend to prefer semi-darkness. Once a plague is so bad that your writer colonises desk space and possibly, also, a bed, it may be difficult to get rid of them. Your only solution may be to quietly close the door upon them, try to forget that this was a room you yourself used to be able to use, and to start bringing them a nice cup of tea every now and again.
They like that sort of thing.