My boyfriend said to me the other day, “Writers are weirdos! But don’t worry, because you’re not one.”
This led to immediate outrage on my part. What do you mean I’m not a writer? Sure, I’ve never had a book published, sure my last freelance gig was years ago, sure I only really write regularly on my blog, but excuse me, I am a writer, thank you very much.
Of course, all this came about because I was complaining about writing. This is my prerogative, because I’m in the middle of a writing course where you are expected to actually write stuff, and writing stuff is haaard.
Our course tutors simply say in response to this complaint: writers are people who write. They say it with the complete lack of inflection reminiscent of a broken record, because clearly that’s how many times they’ve said it.
Which is funny because I thought writers were the following:
- Writers are people who eat muffins, clean the house and make bead bracelets or take up pottery. These activities are obviously key steps in the writing process that writers know will ultimately make us better writers. For god’s sake, we don’t actually write. That’s for amateurs.
- Writers are people who are deeply insecure and therefore we are never satisfied. With anything. Just like Will Ferrell’s sex addict character in Blades of Glory, never being satisfied is our cross to bear.
- Writers are people who like overconsumption. Usually of sex, food or alcohol. Or, like F Scott Fitzgerald, we are perennially attracted to people who are mentally damaged. All of these poetic vices will, of course, inspire us to write! You know, one day soon.
- Writers are people who complain a lot, but mainly we complain about writing.
- Writers are people who jealously white-ant other writers who are published. Insert “Yes, I read it, but it was just stale/so poorly written/derivative/quite average/a good first attempt” comment here.
- Writers are people who watch a lot of television. This is in the vain hope that we might learn something about story structure which will inspire us to write our best work. Also, it’s because we’re lazy.
- Writers are people who genuinely believe they had a great idea that would change the way the modern novel is viewed, created and received but we forgot to write it down. Like Paul Kinsey from Mad Men:
- We rail against our day jobs even though we are successful at them. Like Johnny Depp who still holds out the vain hope that he will be a famous guitar player when it’s quite clear he will only ever be known for trying to wear more eyeliner than Keith Richards, and having sh*tloads of money. In our minds, anything less than working toward a novel capable of winning the Nobel Peace Prize for Literature is selling out to The Man.
Ultimately, writers are striving for something misguided and beautiful – perfection. In the meantime, we have about a million things to do before we get there. If you live with one of us, be patient with us. We’ll make it eventually.