Beware Of Writer

The Snake That Bites His Own Tail: The Ouroboros

I’ve seen a meme bouncing around that reveals reasons why you shouldn’t ever date a writer. It’s true, to a point. But I think it goes even deeper than that. Frankly, you should probably get the hell away from us. Anybody. Not just the people we date. But everybody. See us in line at the grocery store? Run, don’t walk. Escape. Avoid. Awooga, awooga. On a good day, we’re eccentric troublemakers. On a bad day, we’re malevolent sociopaths. And with writers, it’s usually a bad day.

So. Here’s a little post to clarify why you should stay at least 50 feet away from us at all times, lest we sink our vampire teeth into your body and drain you of all the things that made you pure and good. See, the things that make us good writers?

They make us awful people.

Imagine a sign around our necks:

BEWARE OF WRITER.

The Glass Is Not Half-Empty, But Rather, Full Of Badger Piss

We are all pessimists, cynics, hypochondriacs and conspiracy theorists. In our fiction, the world must be broken. We must think of the worst. It’s what fuels the fire. Nobody wants to read a story about happy ponies sipping from the molasses pond and then they all dance and have all the hay they want and rainbows and bags of gold and leprechauns and *poop noise* — that’s just pap. Twee, waffling pap. Fiction demands that we go to the well and draw up the most stagnant water we can find, and so we look for the worst in the world around us. We get used to it. We accept it as the norm. We know the worst can happen. We know it because we write about it. Some dude will come up behind you on the park bench and saw your head off. Your plane? Gonna crash. That mole in your armpit? ARMPIT CANCER.

Please Ignore Our Forked Tongues

We are lying liars who lie. We have to be. Fiction is a lie. Non-fiction is, in its own way, a lie. When writing, deception is a skill. This, like so much of the thread that goes into our wretched quilt, trails into our real lives and ensures that the best writers make the most powerful liars. We can convince you of anything. We don’t mean to. It’s just — well, it’s like John Cusack’s character says in Grosse Pointe Blank:

Martin: You do it because you are trained to do it, you have the strength to do it and the courage to do it… and ultimately (pause) you get to like it. I know that sounds bad.

Debi: You’re a psychopath.

Martin: No, no, no. Psychopaths kill for no reason, I kill for money, it’s a job — that didn’t sound right.

For the record, if you don’t like that movie, you’re dead to me.

I lie to my wife all the time, by the way. Not in bad ways. I’ve learned to control my foul serpent’s tongue. Now I just see if I can convince her of truly egregious lies. Like, I once convinced her I was born with a tail? I know, horrible, right? But at least I’m not lying about, you know, real shit. That’s what I tell myself.

You Are Wrong About Everything, Even When You’re Not

We make shit up all day long, and then we must write about that made-up shit with utter authority. It is our job to write with abject confidence in the subject matter. You know in high school you’d write papers that were, as you might say, “bullshit?” And you could convince the teacher of it? Yeah. This is like that. Except we start to believe that our confidence in information extends beyond the written page.

And so we frequently believe ourselves to be right.

Like, beyond the pale.

“Yes,” you say, “I’m sure that the guy who played on the show, Frasier, is Lee Marvin’s son.”

“He’s not.”

“No, no, it’s true. I’m sure of it.”

“I really don’t think that’s right…”

“WELL YOU’RE STUPID AND YOUR HEAD IS STUPID. Remember how wrong you were about that thing seven weeks ago?” We like to do this. God forbid we’re actually ever right about something because dang will we hold onto that like a squirrel with a nut. “I’m right. I’m a writer. It’s even in the word. It used to be spelled R-I-G-H-T-E-R. It’s my job to know things.”

No, it’s your job to make shit up and pretend it’s true. But the lines? They blur.

Conflict And Misery Make For A Much Better Story!

In life, we avoid conflict. In fiction, we strive for it. Except, remember how I said something about the lines blurring? Mmm. Yeah. We get to a state where escalation and drama feel normal. We work to achieve those things so diligently that it’s hard to snap out of that mode. In a fight, we’re likelier to escalate beyond the point of rationality because — hey, whoever is up there in Never-Never-Land reading this Book Of Your Life is going to appreciate your attention to these details. “Yeah,” your imaginary cosmic reader says, “now break that plate! Do it! Kick the car door and put a dent in it! Conflict! Escalation! Drama!”

Of course, no such cosmic reader exists.

Our lives are not big books.

But don’t tell us that, or we’ll stab you in the thigh with a #2 pencil.

Ich Bin Ein Puppetmeister

We control our characters. Don’t believe the nonsense that we’re swept away the Muse and the characters control us. Pshhh. Naw. Nuh-uh. We’re the puppetmasters. And so in life, we get confused when we can’t control you and everyone else around us. Oh, I didn’t say we wouldn’t try, though.

The Writer Is A Creepy Loner

We do so well alone that we don’t always do so well with other people. If we were a dog, the warning on our kennel door would say, “Not Socialized.” Or, “Doesn’t Play Well With Others.” Or, “Will Stab You In The Thigh With A Pencil.” We don’t so much like being solitary. It’s just our natural state. So when you finally find us, we’re naked, covered in our own filth, picking bits of ham and apple pie crust out of our chest hairs. We are basically some genetic combination between “earthworm” and “Bigfoot.”

Bigworm. Or Earthfoot.

Snuggle Up With Mental Illness

When writing, a little dab of mental illness is a feature, not a bug. Our obsessions and neuroses drive us to the word count with the verve and tenacity of a crack-addled howler monkey. Our depressive tendencies, provided they allow us to get out of bed, show us a broken world, and as noted, a broken world is particularly good for our fiction. Our Narcissism and megalomania helps us get through the day by convincing us we’re actually really awesome at this, yeah, fuck yeah, woooo, and then those depressive tendencies kick in again and bring us back to earth and drive us to improve, improve, improve our shit-ass-crap-twat writing. We’re like addicts, pinballing back and forth between uppers and downers, smart drugs and hallucinogens. Thing is, when not writing, a little dab of mental illness is a big ol’ bug and not much of a feature (outside our ability to entertain others with our misery and melodrama).

Like A Photograph, We Will Steal Your Souls

Just as we are liars, we are also thieves. Your life is our fiction. Oh, no, we don’t steal it on purpose. As noted: we have compulsions. That whole write-what-you-know thing? It’s not advice. It’s a curse. Don’t worry. We won’t use your soul exactly as it has been taken. We’ll fuck with it first. Molest it with our greasy ham-hands. Of course, you’ll be reading something and say, “Is that me?”

And the writer will say, “No, no, of course not.”

Because the writer is a stinky poo-poo liar who fucking lies.

Our Writing Is A Temple: Do Not Defile It Lest You Rouse The Anger Of The Gods

We elevate our writing to sacred cosmic necessity. If you befoul the temple with your distraction — even if that distraction is, say, “Hey, I’m being eaten to death by mice over here, so if you could maybe kick a few of these guys off of me?” — you will earn our wrath. “No, I cannot help you with your bullshit flesh-eating mouse problem I TOLD YOU I WAS WRITING JESUS CHRIST YOU DON’T RESPECT ME.”

Last But Not Least, We’ll Try To Force You To Read Our Shit

“Here,” we’ll say, dropping a 50-lb. manuscript in your lap. “It’s my masterpiece.”

“Okay,” you’ll respond.

“Read it.”

“It’s awfully big.”

“Yeah, but read it anyway.”

“Okay. I have some things to take care of first like, say, getting these mice to stop boring holes in my flesh.”

“Sweet.”

Two days later, we return: “Did you read it?”

“OW THE MICE ARE IN MY BRAIN”

“I guess that’s a no.” <– insert disappointed pout.

“CHEWING MY SYNAPSES”

“Pshh. You don’t respect me and my work.”

Then we storm out.

(It’s Not All That Bad)

Okay, yeah, we’re sort of apeshit moonbat, but once we become aware of our, umm, danger signs, we can mitigate our worst behaviors. But still, let this serve as a warning. Writers sometimes seem brightly colored and fascinating, but really, those are just nature’s way of warning you off. We’re like tropical toads. Oh so pretty! Want to touch the toady! Except: poisonous skin that kills with one touch.

Beware of writer.

185 comments

  • Thanks for another laugh laced with far too much truth for comfort. I was going to say that reading this blog helps me keep my feet on the ground, but I think it’s more akin to having my legs sawn off at the knees.

    That does mean that I save money on shoes and can now walk under low doorways with my head held high with no risk of injury. As a freelancer, it also means I can now physically kick myself in the face rather than just do it metaphorically.

  • This is mightily fucking brilliant, and I should know, because I’m a fucking writer.

    On Twitter I cracked that no one had better show this to my wife, but go ahead. By now, she knows all this about me.

  • I share the majority of personality and behavioral traits described in this article, with the exception of the apple pie – I’ am Australian and we do meat pies here.

    I’ am however, not a writer.

    With the obvious outpouring of empathy from writers that this piece had generated, it is clear to me that writing could become the thin veneer of respectability that I have been seeking to explain my reason for being this way.

    If I apply for a writing job should I write it in No.2 pencil, or would that blunt the end to much for… Other uses?

  • OMG! I really am a writer then! I’ve been telling myself for two decades that I’m not a ‘real’ writer because I haven’t published a book yet.

    But now I now. Being a writer isn’t about what you get published. It’s about what you just MUST get out of your head… and all that other bad stuff that is just me through and through.

  • Oh hell, i was just in a great mood as I was burying the corpse of the most recent person i stabbed to death with a pencil after they promised to read my work (but didnt) and then I read your post that suggests that my proclivity for writing is more aptly explained by me being an egomanical and immature trogladyte rather than being the 2010 version of J. D. Salinger or Dr Seuss. Oh well, back to licking toads again I guess (insert sad face..or at least my closest memory of a sad face due to the fact ive been on uppers longer than Hugh Heffner)

  • Bwhahahhaaaaaaa!! I’m a person who may or may not be a writer (I’m still making that part up as I go along) but I must say:

    YES, Thank You and *CACKLE*

    *Wipes away tears of laughter/joy/(insert emotion here)*

  • Haha, this reminds me of when I convinced my friends I once baked my cell phone into a cupcake, because she told me I had the same phone as her and I was explaining how I could tell the difference between them. She completely fell for it. I thought I was at least semi-normal! Now I realize that I’m only normal to the writing community (if it can even be called that, considering we are loners).

    Not to mention the vivid descriptions I give my friends so I can have the pleasure of making then lose their appetites at lunch.

  • You forgot that writers fall into two categories: published and well, shitty. You want bat-shit crazy, f-ed up, look at your *un*published writer. All that crap you said plus a twitch that says, “Hell yes I’m packing and I’m going to off that agent who just rejected me.” But like the crocodile man – before he got killed for getting too close to an unpublished stingray – good agents know how to avoid us. That snake at the top? Hell, it ain’t even poisonous! (I can tell because I’m a writer.) Must represent a published writer. I’m an f-ing coral snake waiting to bite someone in the ass. Sadly, I’ve always been this way.

  • Damn you, Kirby McGee! i stumbled on this and have to say… dear lord, is that what I’m like?! On a bad day… when i am not checking my ego. Leggo my ego… Help!

  • In my experience romance writers are the scariest, meanest writers and horror writers the tamest. We get to put those who’ve wronged us into unrecognizable characters (except to us) and kill them over and over and over again in all manner of therapeutically gruesome ways.

    And that’s why they nicknamed me Sunshine.

  • Gosh! I am NOT a psychopath! I just like wearing bright colors to draw people towards me so that I can roll around in their pain. Man…fuck you. All that work my therapist did, gone. >:D

    And “Yeah, I’m keeping this article away from potential boyfriends. They don’t need to find this shit out until we’re legally bound for life,” I agree with you.

  • I LOVE this.
    Do you ever feel like a writer’s only redemption is when he can admit to himself how depraved he is?

    Also I think writers view life as a bunch of characters moving towards catharsis, and then “get confused when we can’t control you and everyone else around u” with our version of right/wrong.

    Oh and I didn’t like Grosse Point Blank, but only because I read the script first and I think the director fudged the scenes.

  • MUCH OF WHAT YOU SAID IS SO VERY TRUE ABOUT MYSELF. UNTIL I “STUMBLED UPON” THIS SITE OF YOURS .I THOUGHT I WAS THE ONLY WRITER OUT THERE THAT THOUGHT;FELT AND WAS THIS WAY. AT THIS TIME DURING MY WRITING STAGE I IDENTIFY WITH YOUR WORDS,”GET FAR THE FUCK AWAY.” I AM NOT A FORCE TO BE RECKONED WITH SO LEAVE ME THE FUCK ALONE. MY MOTHER LIVES WITH ME , MY BOYFRIEND OF 16 YEARS WHOM IS IN THE DOG HOUSE WHERE HE BELONGS UNTIL I FORGIVE HIM (MAYBE)WHILE MY DOG REMAINS IN COMFORT INSIDE MY HOME. I HAVE BEEN IN MY NEW HOME 3 MONTHS AND HAVE NOT UNPACKED A THING;MY BOOKS ARE BECKONING ME TO WRITE,WRITE,AND WRITE.THAT TAKES PRECEDENTS OVER EVERYTHING ELSE.THE PICTURE OF THE SNAKE–PERFECT. I AM 1/2 NATIVE AMERICAN AND ONE OF MY NATIVE AMERICAN MEDICINES IS THAT OF A SNAKE;IN CHINESE IT IS ALSO SNAKE “A DOUBLE HEADED RATTLESNAKE CAN BE DEADLY TO PISS OFF”AND SO MY WORDS WHEN PISSED OFF ARE VERY VENOMOUSNESS SO NEVER PISS OFF A WRITER WHOM IS OF NATIVE AMERICAN DECENT AND HER PERSON MEDICINE IS THAT OF A SNAKE THANK YOU, OH CRAZY ONE WITH A PEN FOR YOUR INSIGHT; YOUR CONFORMATION AND YOUR BLOG SITE. SHARON WHITESPIRINGLAUGHING.

  • I agree with like… a lot of it most of the time. Or some of the time. I really can’t make up my mind. I try to act “normal” and all (which is pretty weird) but as soon as that writer sense kicks in… I twitch. NEED. TO. WRITE. It’s just this… thing that comes over me. Thankfully, my best friends have come to accept this little function as a part of my personality. As a matter of fact… my forcing them to read my works has actually gotten them to LIKE it. I’m quite content with this. Until they find a typo. THEN MY WRATH OF ANGRY WRITER-NESS UNLEASHES UPON THEM.

    And then there’s my significant other. He’s twitchy… but yet he has the same thing with taking pictures. So he understands. Ish. I’ve tried convincing him I’ve got sociopathic tendencies… that I tend to fall off my rocker sometimes…. Etc., etc. His response? “I’ll take the good with the bad!” Well. HE’S IN FOR HELL. Just saying.

    As for the lying thing… I can lie quite smoothly when it comes down to it. Just… not about the real important stuff, y’know? I don’t like lying about that stuff. My not-so-writing-obsessed side of me feels guilty. Which puts me into a depressed hole… which makes me go “F the world… I don’t wanna do anything….” which keeps me from writing. But any general depression I can write, since all I see is just how miserable I want to make everyone’s lives…. Yeah. You see that perfect little family on vacation over there, on the beach? THAT’S RIGHT. THERE’S A SHARK IN THAT WATER THE BOY IS PLAYING IN. THOSE DAMN MEDICAL BILLS ARE GOING TO COST A FORTUNE AND MESS UP THE ENTIRE FAMILY’S STANDING. I like to have my foot in reality when I write. It means I can actually use all of those little details in life that just… rip you off and leave you empty. And defenseless. And just allow room for MORE crap to happen. I like being a writer. It’s fun. I just feel bad for my friends. They have to put up with me.

  • Not only are writers so obsessed with lying to others, but lying to ourselves. In the story, does the serial killer hide in the shrubbery before attacking? Here, have a lifetime fear of bushes. When I was seven I wrote a story about a green handed monster living in the toilets and pulling kids down into the sewer by their asses whenever they flush, and thought it would be a good idea to read it to the class. No student flushed for the rest of the school year. I’m still proud of that bit of evilness.

  • hahahahaha i laughed so hard i cried and its all true every bit of it we are crazy time bombs ready to explode we are moody and if bothered while writing will attack or tell you to f off
    best thing ive possibly ever read 1,000 thumbs up

  • Writing can be a cruel beast, although I don’t refer to it as writing anymore, I refer to it as typing. Never date a writer? hmm.. my time spent writing on the computer does greatly upset the wife. On the other hand, I do have a wife, so writers cant be all that bad! 🙂

  • I started reading like, haha, I’m kind of a writer, I’m more of an editor, personality-wise. Then I read the whole thing and was like, shit, man. I AM a writer. Like for reals. Fuck. Now I have to actually write some shit to legitimize my horrible personality.

    And you used one of my favorite insult words of all time: twee. Good one.

  • Before sitting down to write this morning, at 9:30 a.m., I seriously considered having a glass of chardonnay. I questioned my own sanity…and then I read this. (P.S. I can’t wait for your follow-up: “Beware of Editor.”)

  • This is so true! I found this on stumble.com and so glad I read it! I don’t usually like to read articles but I was about dying from laughter by the time I finished it.

    The one part that is completely true about me is the fact that I see danger in everything. I daydream about getting kidnapped so that I will know what to do when/if I am ever taken against my will. I also webmd every single symptom and think it is possibly a fatal disease! All my friends think I am crazy but apparently I am just a normal writer!

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