Do you know a writer?


Joe’s Post #48 — We’re not easy to spot. We’re hidden everywhere. In hair salons. In movie theaters. In gyms. In the office cubicle next to you. Some of us are odd looking. Some are gorgeous. But make no mistake, all of us, yes all, are a bit odd. We’re writers after-all.

Because to even do what we do, well, we have to be a little off. A little bit different. A little bit Coo coo for coco puffs.

Or as I like to say, “I live in my own little world”.

So let me give you an insight into spotting one of us.

1) Look for a laptop. We love laptops. We get all twitchy and nervous if we don’t have one in our hands, our laps, or on a table in front of us. We can be found with our laptops at the beach, in coffee shops (duh), sitting on steps, on airplanes, in cars (sometimes while driving), at weddings, at parties, in bed, or on a couch while watching TV.  Older school writers might be found still using a pen and paper, but these are rare sightings indeed and you should approach with caution.

2) We read. A lot. We’ll often be seen with a real book in our hands. Or a kindle-ie thing. But we love to read. It’s what makes us want to write. A few guarantees, if you see someone reading a 900 page fantasy novel, it’s a good bet they’ll have written a novel about an elven maiden and a handsome barbarian. If you see a book group, at least one of them will have a romance novel secretly under construction.

3) We have some very weird things on our computers. Links to autoerotic affixation. Biker Wars. The world’s fastest cars. How to Make a Bomb. Desert locations. Pictures of guns and Russian brides and female ninjas. Now only one of those will be for personal fun, but the rest are for research. I swear.

4) If you know someone who wants you to read something they wrote, it means, well, they wrote something. Hence, a writer. But that best illustrates the most obvious of all writer traits. We want to be read. We are needy that way. We want to be read by our friends and family. By the guy who inked a Hitler mustache on our yearbook photos. By the girl who makes us a tall iced mocha. Oh, we may be shy, but that need is there. By reading what we wrote, you justify our very existence. (Oh, and when asked, just say you love it, that’s it’s the most amazing thing you’re ever read and you’d buy the book. I don’t care if you lie.)

thCA5NKTHM5) We get lost in our heads a lot. Hey, that’s where all the action is. It’s where the woman is taken in the arms by the man she loves and kissed like it’s the last kiss before the world ends. It’s where all hope is lost. Where tears are shed. Where characters are born and die. It’s often a nicer place to be than the world we live in. So we live there a lot. But that means we may have a vacant look about us sometimes. A blank, three stooges stare. It means we are somewhere else for a moment. Some may say this makes us socially awkward. I say, well, yes, but in our head we’re social gods (and very funny.)

6) We mutter to ourselves. We mutter quite a bit, actually. It’s a part of #5. But don’t be alarmed if you hear things like, “oh, right, petechial hemorrhaging, right, that’s why he wouldn’t strangle her,” or, “No, no, she wouldn’t do that on the elevator,” or “Wait, hold on, that’s not his finger in the box.”

7) Lastly, we write. A lot. Sure, we talk about writing. We go to conferences and workshops and critique groups. But, at the end of the day, we write. We sit in a chair, laptop in front of us, and we try to create a world, populate it with interesting characters then make bad shit happen to them. It takes time. It takes concentration. And it takes time away from doing things we love (and doing them with people we love.) It’s work. It’s what we do. But it’s also what we love. It may not make sense sometimes. It may not even make sense most of the time, but we write anyway. I hope our loved ones will forgive us.

So, if you ever see someone pounding away on a laptop, muttering to themselves, paying no attention to the world around them, with a book on the table beside them and a browser window open to “A thousand ways to dismantle a body with a spoon,” don’t panic.

Now, true enough, it’s just as likely they’re a serial killer, or someone truly insane, but it could just be they’re a writer. Trying to write something you’d want to read.

Give them a hug.

They’ll need it.

Especially if they’re a serial killer.

Anyone have any other ways to spot a writer?

3 thoughts on “Do you know a writer?

  1. No, I think you about covered it. Oh, no! Wait – Virginia Heinlein noticed that Robert used to put his sneakers in the freezer when he was “coming down with a story”. So, sneakers in the freezer, coffee pot in the fridge – either not enough caffeine or a writer. Or both.

  2. You’re sitting on the subway, or in a laundromat, or in a run-down coffee shop along a secondary highway in some town that once used to be bigger than it is now. You hear a conversation – overhear, if truth be told – that’s juicily bizarre. It could be about where the people conversing have placed tattoos on their bodies. Or about why Uncle Harold keeps a boa constrictor in his bathtub. Or about the time DeeDee’s boyfriend Frankie went to Vegas to win the price of an engagement ring and had to hitchhike home in his underwear. You find yourself tuning in, leaning in, fascinated, needing to hear the end of the story. You glance around and see a person sitting alone, obviously eavesdropping like you are, who’s scribbling furiously on a pad of paper. Or the back of a napkin.

    That’s a writer.

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