25 Reasons That Writers Are Bug-Fuck Nuts

It seems like a good time for a spiritual successor to my earlier “Beware of Writer” posts — this time, jacked into the popular “25 Things” format here that all you cats and kittens seem to like. Plus, it’s sometimes good to speak to the non-writers out there, let ‘em know why we get that spooky glint in our eyes once in a while. You wanna know why we’re a little wacky? I gotcher 25 reasons right here.

1. We Destroy Our Imaginary Friends

Authors invent people. Out of thin air. They reach into the moist and dewy folds of the invisible thought vagina and from that squishy space birth people who have never existed, and who will never exist. We give ourselves — and by proxy, the audience — reasons to care about these people. They become our imaginary friends. Then we take our imaginary friends and fuck them over ten ways till Tuesday. “This is Dave. We all like Dave. Good hair. Nice teeth. We can all relate to Dave. Uh-oh! Dave’s wife just left him. Stole the kids. And now he’s being hunted by a serial killer from the moon! HA HA HA HA SUCK A DICK DAVE.”

2. We Specialize In Creative Ways To Die

We’re basically murderers who just don’t have the balls to actually go out and kill some motherfuckers. It’s not just stories about aliens chomping on people’s guts or thugs stabbing other thugs — books and films and comic books are showcases for every form of misery and doom one could imagine. Once in a while you’ll be walking along and suddenly a thought will strike you: “I wonder if I could work it into a story where some dude gets his guts vacuumed out his boothole by an out-of-control Roomba. I bet I could. Time to murder some non-existent humans. To the writermobile!”

3. Behold The Bad News Boner

It’s not just murder. It’s all kinds of bad news. Bus crash! Small town swallowed by avalanche! Exploding nuns! Deadly form of herpes escapes lab on the back of a carnivorous shark-llama hybrid! Oh noes! Bad news! Yay! I want to rub it all over my body like a cream or unguent! I want to wear its stink and huff the stench of cataclysm and catstrophe to get me jacked up for my next story! Exclamation points! Can’t stop!

4. “I Was Once Born With A Tail!”

We are trained to be gifted liars. Anybody who writes fiction — or works for Fox News — is tasked with the job of convincing others that Things That Are Absolutely Not True are, in fact, Totally Fucking True. Our entire job is predicated on being good at spinning a complicated web of deception. Truth? Bo-ring. Lies? High-five! Lies make Story Jesus giggle as if you’re tickling his tummy. I imagine all writers have those moments where they’re sitting around their office, pantsless, an empty whiskey bottle spinning idly at their feet — they rub their eyes and mutter, “I don’t know what’s real and what’s fake anymore.” Then the writer hops on his rocket unicorn and goes to buy a cat-burger from the fish-faced Atlantean fellow down on Bumbershoot Street. See? The lies just fall out of me. Like chewing gum from a dead man’s mouth.

5. Quiet Loners

Whenever they find some whackaloon with a collection of severed heads in his freezer, they always trot out the neighbors and you get that classic line: “He was always so quiet.” And the assumption becomes, oh, that seemingly nice-and-quiet chap next door needed his quiet time because he was too busy with his hobby of decapitating dudes. On the other hand: hey, maybe him being quiet and alone all the time made him crazy. Maybe you spend too long cooped up with yourself the carpet starts moving and the wallpaper shifts and the room starts to whisper, You know what would be awesome? A sweet-ass collection of severed heads. Get on that. This is probably a good time to remind you that writers happen to spend a lot of time alone and cooped up with themselves. Just, uhh, putting that out there. What, this old thing? Just a hacksaw.

6. The Grotto Of Insanity

Our office spaces soon begin to reflect our quiet and lonely — and inevitably crazy — lifestyle. Teetering towers of books that threaten to crush us. Pens laying everywhere (and if you’re me, half of them are chewed on, the toxic ink and plastics long settled into my body). Over there, a plate of what may have once been a burrito but now looks like a brain made of fungus. Next to it, a small handgun. Next to that, a dead pigeon. Underneath the desk, a noisy pile of Red Bull cans, liquor bottles, and ammunition casings. Behind us, a cabinet full of freeze-dried severed heads. Our offices inevitably turn into wombs, that is, if wombs were responsible for birthing the raw stuff of crazy into the world.

7. The Nexus Of Madness Is Atop Our Wibbly-Wobbly Necks

If you think our offices are the domicile of the insane, you should see the inside of our heads. It’s the asylum from 12 Monkeys all up in these motherfuckers. And we live here all the goddamn time. No escape!

8. Creativity Is Seen As A Commodity Of The Lazy And Insane

You tell most people what you do and you get this look — it’s a look that perfectly contains a tempest of information, a tangle of thoughts (and none of them good). You get a mixture of, Oh, he’s one of those, or, Look, another hipster-slacker-socialist-asshole stealing all our precious unemployment, or, He doesn’t look like he’s starving so he must have a trust fund keeping him alive, or, Ugh, that’s not a real job. Swamp logger, that’s a real job. Writer’s just something you say when you like to smoke drugs all day. It’s really quite disheartening. You get those looks often enough it starts to crack your egg a little bit, dontcha know?

9. The Love-Me Hate-Me Two-Step

Here, then, is the critical dichotomy of our process: we have to love an idea so much we’re willing to spend the great deal of time shoveling it into the world, and then we have to switch gears and learn to hate the thing we just created in order to improve it. We puff up our ego, then lance it with a hot pin. It’s like giving birth to a child who you love with all your heart until you throw him out into the icy woods with a note pinned to his chest reading: this is how you learn to survive, you little turd. Writers are the tragedy and comedy masks whirling about, trading places again and again. And it’s all a bit barmy, innit?

10. Caffeine Poisoning

Writers drink so much caffeine that eventually the synapses start to break down like wires chewed by starving squirrels. And then those starving squirrels make a ratty nest of old leaves and smelly yarn inside our heads. We end up as gutted automatons piloted by a tribe of twitchy squirrels. Metaphorically.

11. Alcohol Poisoning

Coffee, then liquor, then coffee, then liquor. Okay, yes, I know, not every writer is a pickled booze-sponge, but some drink enough for all, I suspect. All that booze affects the liver and just as the liver is kind of the bouncer for the human body, detoxing all that bad voodoo, Plato felt that another function of the liver was to keep in check a human’s darkest emotions. Meaning, the liver’s purpose was to bottle up all the crazy. And what do writers do? OBLITERATE THE LIVER WITH DRINK. Be free, little crazies! Be free!

12. “I Got A Bad Case Of The Penmonkeys, Man”

We’re addicts for our wordsmithy. Over time, it just happens. One day you’ve been writing so long that when a day comes you don’t put words to paper it feels like that space between your heart and your guts is filled with a cluster of bitey eels that want out, and the only way to give them egress is to start writing again. We’re word-junkies, man. Ink-slingers. Fiction fiends. The only cure is another taste of that sweet story.

13. Control Freaks With Nothing To Control

Inside our stories, we’re gods among mortals — our hands are on all the buttons and switches. Outside our stories, we control a big bag of Dick Butkus. We don’t control publisher advances, book placement, trends, reviews, or that weird little deranged robot that computes the Amazon recommendation algorithms.

14. Crazy Money!

Yeah, by “crazy money” I don’t mean “money in such quantity it’s totally awesome,” but rather, “money that arrives in wildly inconsistent sums and on a madman’s schedule.” You hit this point where, okay, you have to learn to survive from January to March on this royalty check of $7.53, and then in March you’re supposed to get like, ten grand or something, but then that ten grand doesn’t show up until June, and when you get it you forget you need to buy groceries and instead buy like, a Wave Runner instead. Yeah. See? Nutty.

15. Books Books I Love Books Books Books Mmm Books

The one thing that e-readers have robbed from us is the ability to throw all the books we own into a room and roll around on them, naked. I mean, okay, sure, I can do that with an e-reader, but eventually someone’s going to pick it up and be like, “Is this a testicle-print on my Kindle?” What I’m saying is, some people hoard clothing, cats, fast food containers, ninja weapons, exotic primates — but writers hoard books. And eventually all those books — each a storehouse of utter unreality — bleeds into our brains via creative osmosis. Either that or they fall on us, crushing our weak little writer bodies beneath.

16. We Are Distracted For A Reason

It’s not new to suggest that writers are easily distracted: we’ve all gotten lost in an endless labyrinth of cat videos (and at the center of that labyrinth is a cat dressed like a minotaur, and he’s all like I CAN HAZ COW HED OH NOES THESEUS and — dang, LOLcats jokes just don’t cut it anymore, do they?). But here’s why we’re easily distracted: because our brains know it’s bad for us to stare at a screen full of tiny words all day. Our brain is telling us to look at something — anything — other than those tiny little ant-like words. It is unnatural to stare at words in this way. It nibbles holes in our gray matter.

17. The Internet Is Full Of Ragehate, And We Dive In, Headfirst

Once upon a time, authors would get reviews that were insightful, incisive critiques — “The author’s masterful use of language is sadly handicapped by a plot whose events fail to properly resolve.” Now we have to put up with internet vitriol like you’d find on the likes of a YouTube video where a guy gets hit in the nuts with a tricycle: “THIS BOOK IS FUKKIN STUPID IT BLOWS GIRAFFES THE AWTHOR IS A TARDCART.” And then they probably call you a racial or sexual epithet. It’s like asking for insightful criticism during a Call of Duty match on Xbox Live. It does little good for one’s sanity.

18. The English Language Makes As Much Sense As Snivel Bliff Fleekum Hork

Okay, this one is a little biased toward those writing in the English tongue, but seriously, trying to know all the rules in and around the composition of the English language will give you a goddamn nosebleed. Looking at all the rules — and then memorizing all the bizarre-o exceptions — makes you want to go back to the days of communicating with clicks and burps. Related: Brian Regan knows the real “I-before-E” rule.

19. At Some Point We Tried Really Hard To Understand The Publishing Industry

Predicting trends, imagining advances, contemplating the agency model, trying to figure out why anybody would publish any book by Billy Ray Cyrus ever — all this does is plunge your mind into the roiling black soup of unmitigated chaos. You can tell the moment any author’s sanity snapped, because it goes like this: “My book’s been out on submission for seven years, and now they’re publishing a book of scat marks written by that greasy orangutan, Snooki?” Listen hard enough, you hear a *plink* — that’s the sound of the little pubic hair holding the last vestiges of that author’s sanity together.

20. That Might Be Scurvy

No, that’s not the latest spin-off band by They Might Be Giants — it’s because we don’t have enough money for food and health insurance and because we didn’t eat a couple oranges now we’re losing our teeth and fingernails and turning into some raving froth-mouthed version of the Brundlefly.

21. Me Me Me Me Me Me Me Me? Me!

It is in our makeup to be desperate for attention. We write our books, our films, our articles, and we’re not writing them so that we can just read them back to ourselves and have a jolly good laugh. We want you to read them, too. And you. And you! And you over there, hiding behind the shrubs. The more attention we get, the more successful we become — or, at least, feel. The ironic part is, many aren’t comfortable with that attention and yet seek it like junkies. Which, you guessed it, makes us a wee smidgen bit crazy.

22. Amazon Rankings

Click. Clickity-click. Refresh refresh. “Did my ranking go up? Or down? Or up? Or down? It stayed the same. What does that mean? Did I sell enough to stay afloat? Are the rankings broken? How often do they update? Is my book doing better than that other book? Is that good? Or bad? My finger is getting a blister. MY ENTIRE SELF-WORTH IS PINNED TO THIS GODDAMN NUMBER. *sob*” Click. Click. Refresh refresh.

23. The Idea Plague

Ask a writer: “Where do you get your ideas from?” And the writer will reply: “How do you make yours stop?” Then he’ll bat at his hair as if it’s on fire. I can’t walk ten feet without thinking of a new novel or script idea. It’s an idea that will almost certainly never yield fruit — which means I’m essentially committing an act of literary Onanism. So much idea-seed spilled on the floor. Infertile and inert. And smells like Clorox.

24. We Hang Out With Other Writers

Crazy people hanging out with other crazy people just creates a crazy people feedback loop where the crazy recirculates again and again like a bad stink in an old car. Crazy begets crazy begets crazy.

25. It’s Cool-Cool To Be Cray-Cray

Most writers aren’t actually crazy — but we certainly feel that way sometimes and furthermore, a helluva lot of our authorial forebears were definitely a bit, ahhh, unstable (Hemingway! Hunter S. Thompson! Emily Dickinson! Sylvia Plath!). As such, we’re cast into a realm where it’s okay, even expected, that our creative pursuits mark us on the charts between “a little bit eccentric” and “crazier than a shithouse chimp.”


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131 comments

    • Really, after all the crap I said, you’re upset about my FOX NEWS jab?

      *shakes head*

      It’s a joke, people.

      Albeit, a joke with truth — and it doesn’t take a liberal to be irritated at Fox News.

      – c.

  • Many I thought us painters were the psychos! This was actually hilarious enough that I laughed out loud and didn’t just make snide faces! Thank you SO much for making me feel either less insane or less alone.

    Either way, this article rocked!

  • awww . . . that was hilarious. Not to worry, I took it as the joke it was meant to be . . . with threads of truth running through it. I haven’t yet converted over to the kindle, but when I do, I’d better not find any testicle prints on it. :P

  • I try to explain to non-writers how my characters are the ones who decide where my stories are going and sometimes they don’t tell me everything, so I can’t always explain their motives.

    Thanks for sharing. Any other post on the subject would have to bow down to this one.

  • Yeah, you nailed it, and then some. I created a fabulous character just a couple of weeks ago. I love the guy, he’s wonderful. I’d marry him in a minute if he were real. (And single.) But I’m getting ready to kill him, nothing can stop me, even though I love hell out of him. There should be a whole book about him (alive). And yet, I’m going to kill him, no two ways about it. I’m afraid you’re right, we’re all nuts. And I wouldn’t have it any other way because we’re all way more interesting than most civilians I know. (To my children: I SAID almost.)

  • I made a similar list for my therapist. Told him I worried my beloved silently wondered, maybe misread my behavior. On his advice, I shared the list. I said to my beloved, “Baby, I want you to understand everything about me. I am a writer.” I got through that sentence without standing on the coffee table, which could have been a hard fall when she said, “But I thought you were a painter.”

  • I adore every bottle of snake oil Fox News sells. When the DVR runs dry, Fox News is there to put a smile on my face. It’s like flipping through the channels on a Sunday afternoon and stopping on TNT to watch Tremors–you’ve got to appreciate that someone actually green-lit this nonsense.

  • Someone had this posted on their Fapbook page and being a long-time shut-in writer, I had to look. Hilarious, and inspiring! After about a decade I’m finally trying to make something happen with my writing (for realsies, I swear) and work on legitimately publishing SOMETHING. Your points on every subject spoke volumes, and your metaphors made sense to me. Which means I actually read the whole article, yay me! I look forward to making shit happen, and this was another kick in the pants I needed :)

  • If I had any friends left, I would share this with them to help explain my behavior. Alas, no one visits me every-other Sunday anymore. Even the Doctors and Nurses stay away from me on those days.

  • Yesterday I was this close to tossing my whole work-in-progress out the window. Then I read this post. I laughed so hard and the message I got out of this was: stop whining, stop taking it all so serious and get back to writing !!!

  • My invisible thought vagina is a’tingling. how about puppies? do you eat puppies? Oh, I don’t care really. It is just where my brain went when I was trying to get out of the vortex of number nineteen. revising, putting together query packages sounds so neat and sensible but it isn’t. no.

  • Brilliant. I was sat here the other day, trying to write a paragraph about feeling suicidal, MAKING myself feel suicidal so I could describe it. Giving myself a panic attack by thinking of all the shit that terrifies me. And then you do think, what the fuck am I doing? Is this really a healthy way to spend your time? Shouldn’t I just be scratching my balls and watching shit on the TV instead?

  • February 9, 2012 at 1:19 PM // Reply

    Don’t put down my ghostwritten Billy Ray Cyrus novel, read it backwards and you will find all the good stuff love.

  • Did this blog post convince me to buy your book? Why, yes. Yes it did.

    Also, I saw in another post that you were looking for money to revamp your site and Kickstarter kicked you to the curb. You could try ChipIn. They are pretty well known, and I do not think there is even any criteria.

  • I wasted perfectly good coffee–spitting it all over the place because I was naive enough to think I had control over myself.
    I laughed so hard! Oh yes, I can relate. To everything. I have to make a fresh pot of coffee now, because I need to finish writing that book…and that one…and oh yeah, I need to start that one. Movies play in my head. Was that in your post?
    Grin.

  • Rule number nine particularly struck a chord with me.

    To begin a novel, a writer must have overwhelming hubris. To edit it, the writer must have overwhelming humility.

    That’s not healthy.

  • There are studies that have claimed for years that there’s a higher-than-average occurrence of bipolar disorder among writers.

    Personally, I think it’s an occupational hazard. If you’re not nuts when you get into this business, you soon will be.

  • Sometimes I get so many ideas dive bombing my quiet homestead I feel like cocker spaniel worry face person. Thank you for making me feel less alone for a moment with this glorious post of yours.

  • I’m spending the rest of my pre-paid internet service card memorizing your posts and the comments posted to this site. And having my monkeys apply unguent to their special parts in the imaginary zoo that I run. (Glad that my moms and pops let me learn to read and write in skool.)

  • Just one thing to add – there are more than 25 reasons why we’re all bug-fuck crazy. I have myself counted up at least 247, but then I ran out of finger and toes. I haven’t been out to get any more for my collection, but when I do, I’ll up the count further…

  • Very interesting post, but now I’m deeply depressed since discovering I’m a book whoring, murdering ego-maniac who steals bodies from squishy thought vaginas. Geez, I thought I was better than that. At least I take some comfort in knowing I hang out with people just like me.

  • Been there, done that. Worst of all, most writers are frustrated ACTORS, without the cojones to get on stage. And everyone knows how useless actors are….

    Gotta go, the voices in my head are asking me to kill them again.

  • I’m a word-nerd submerged in a bunker of sand at Pebble Beach. It’s life threatening at times, but I have a straw. Fortunately, someone tweeted me this post and made me actually want to breathe through the straw again. Thanks Chuck. p.s. I’m still confused about the English Language…maybe I should start writing posts in Spanish.

  • This list is so true it’s amazing. I can really agree with 23, I hate when people ask me where I get my ideas. I try and warn them that it’s a curse, not a blessing. But no one understands madness until they have endured it.

  • This was the most perfect thing I have ever read. Every single one of these is just perfect and so true. I must share this with everyone I know and ever will know. I’m going to print out this list and hang it on my wall for gods sake. This is absolutely perfect. PERFECT.

  • This guy is right to say that the best writers are usually crazy. However his explanation of this phenomenon is wildly off base and exposes the sad truth that while the author realizes “great writers are crazy” he certainly isn’t one of them.

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