January 22, 2013

It Ain't Right

From Thought Catalog (as in: "This is so inane, I thought I was reading a catalog"): 25 Signs You're A Writer

Normally my opening gambit for something like this — In Which Andrew Angrily Eviscerates A Mindless Blog Post — would be a knowing "Gosh, I really hate to be snooty about this, but...". I've had enough random internet readers completely miss subtle matters of tone like that before, though, and I don't really want there to be any misunderstanding here. So let me be clear: I am being snooty. This article really bakes my Alaska.
1. You take a pen and paper with you everywhere, sometimes even into bed with you, just in case you have an idea at three in the morning that absolutely must be remembered. That idea never usually ends up good, but like everything you say when you’re stoned, it sounded very good at the time.
Here's my problem with it: these are manifestly NOT signs you are a writer. They are signs that you think you are a writer. Not even that: they are things you identify as writerly that you think you can use to impress other people with how writerly you are. They are like, the sort of stupid cliches that a bad movie would drop in during the first five minutes to really hammer home to you how much of a writer the person on screen is.

Here is the one real sign you are a writer: you spend at least twice as long writing each day as you do thinking about all the ways in which you are like, totally writerly.
2. You really, really want to buy a typewriter, even though you never expect to actually use it. You just want a typewriter because you’re one of the 10 people in the world who still finds them romantic and sexy. All of those people are writers.
Uh-huh, yeah, no. That does not make you a writer. It makes you a hipster. And notwithstanding that all hipsters also "write" a tumblr of some sort, that doesn't make you a writer either.
6. When you hear the words “I’m on deadline,” you immediately burst into action, a Pavlovian response to a) always having something due and b) always being behind on it. You’re certain that if they were able to make your procrastination into an energy source, it will solve our nation’s fuel crisis. Or at least make gas cheaper.
And, okay, everyone has a different way of working and a different experience of being a writer and whatever. That's fine. I accept that. What bothers me is that nobody accepts my version of being writer, viz. writing a lot every day and often feeling kind of miserable and/or guilty about it because you are ignoring your wife and/or missing out on fun social plans to do it. No. Because I'm "a writer," people assume that I have the stupid kind of work ethic where I buy typewriters and get stoned a lot by way of procrastination and then turn out something shitty to meet an arbitrary deadline.

What bothers me is that I have to put up with bloggers telling the world shit like this as if it applies to anyone who's ever strung more than 300 words together:
10. You sometimes refer to authors by their first name or a pet name you never realized you gave them, like calling Bukowski “Chuck” or “Charlie,” James Joyce “Jimmy” or Salman Rushdie “Sally.” Most people aren’t allowed to call him Sally, but it’s an in-joke between the two of you. And, yes, it still counts if he doesn’t know about it and you’ve technically never met him.
Oh, Andrew's a writer? He must refer to Jonathan Franzen as "Franny." Either that or he's not really a writer. Seriously, what is this shit? I get that it's probably meant to be, like, you know, not entirely serious, and, like, you know, I'm probably like, you know, totally missing the joke. But, I'm not. The joke just ain't funny.
14. You’re a little too obsessed with post-it notes and stationery and have a favorite pen. An alarming amount of your budget goes out every month to writing supplies, books and coffee — but mostly coffee. Fact: If I gave up drinking coffee, I’d probably be a millionaire. Is it sad that I choose my love of java over my love of money? No. Not expecting any fiscal reward proves you’re a writer.
22. You have a bad habit of solving your problems or conflicts by writing the person a letter, rather than just confronting them about it. In high school, my mother was in her “I want to be a romance novelist phase,” and I could tell when she and her husband were in a fight because there would be a letter on the table every morning until whatever they were going through was resolved. Some people fight, you start an epistolary novel of angry feelings.
I will be magnanimous and admit that (1) I do have a bad habit of doing this, and (2) I LOL'ed at the epistolary novel line.

HOWEVER, I maintain that this is in general a stupid article, and only makes me further hate poseurs who call themselves writers just so they can procrastinate/drink coffee/buy typewriters/whatever. PLEASE STOP.

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