September 17, 2010

Ah the Writing Life


This was like every other tweet on my list for about half a day: 

Well, yes.  Pretty much.* 

I wavered about copying and pasting the whole thing here so I could annotate the annotations**, which is what A Grammar has done with the original after all, but I’m still kind of confused about what is and is not okay fair use on the internet, so I will plonk down firmly on the fence (ow) and  merely re- or super-annotate a few favourites.   Super-annotations are, of course, pink. 

Writers will romance you with words. We probably won’t. We write for ourselves or for money and by the time we’re done we’re sick of it. If we have to write you something there’s a good chance it’ll take us two days and we’ll be really snippy and grumpy about the process.        

You also want to remember that while we have a lot of words, they’re frequently kind of peculiar.  And some of them are made up and make no sense to anyone but us.***  We often have, you know, what you might call vocabulista specialties.  These specialties will rarely apply to initiating, advancing or maintaining a relationship with another human being.  Also our handwriting is strictly illegible.  This being the case, you may or may not prefer your love letters to have come off a computer.  See:  peculiar vocabulary and made-up words.

Writers will write about you. You don’t want this. Trust me.                    

Beware a writer who seems a little too glad to see you.  Who laughs a little too easily at your jokes and seems a little too interested about that story from your senior year of high school concerning the muskrat, the ham salad, and the choir director’s daughter.

Writers will remind you that money doesn’t matter so much. Yes. We will do this by borrowing money from you. Constantly.

There’s another category of the writer’s natural self-defensive techniques concerning money, which is that we’re cheap.  If we don’t spend any we don’t have to borrow any.  What money we have will be spent on important things like champagne, chocolate, books and fresh roast chicken for hellhounds.  You will therefore be touched and delighted by the handful of wild daisies you receive for your birthday, because we remembered.  Come on, give us a break.  How much more do you want? †

Writers can think through their feelings. So don’t start an argument unless you’re ready for a very, very lengthy explication of our position, our feelings about your position, and what scenes from our recent fiction the whole thing is reminding us of.

Sorry.  I have no annotation for this one.  It just makes me laugh and laugh. 

Writers enjoy their solitude. So get lost, will you?

But keep in touch.  Let’s have lunch . . . next year some time. 

Writers will teach you cool new words. This is possibly true! We may also expect you to remember them, correct your grammar, and look pained after reading mundane notes you’ve left for us.

See:  peculiar vocabulary.  For the rest . . . well, of course.  That’s why you’re dating us, right?  For the glamour?

Writers are surrounded by interesting people. Every last one of whom is imaginary.

This one also makes me laugh and laugh.  And laugh.

 And then there’s this: 

Which is pretty much the standard mixture—as he himself says—trenchantly expressed, as one expects from Scalzi:  if you want to write you should either write or shut up . . . and it’s okay not to want to write.   Yes.  This is the thing I keep trying to hammer at when I get these starry-eyed types waffling away at me:  It’s okay not to want to write—including giving it a try and deciding you’d rather ring bells or knit or walk barefoot over burning coals. ††  Everybody may have a novel in them but not all of those novels need to get out.  Some of them are quite happy where they are, behind the pancreas, woven among the alveoli.

Scalzi, and a lot of other writers including me, may have said it before, but as long as we’re still getting these questions, clearly there’s an audience for it all to be said again.  But a throwaway line about how a professional writer stays inspired to keep writing caught my eye, the purport of which is that you don’t hang around waiting for inspiration—true.  But he says, and I quote:  you don’t keep a daily blog for twelve years, for example, if you’re the sort of person who has to wait for inspiration to get your fingers going across a keyboard.

 Let me run the crucial phrase past you again: 


Eeeep.  Days in the Life’s third anniversary is this month, and I’m already old before my time. 

* * *

* Please the gods let none of my old boyfriends be reading this blog. 

** Which I’m sure eleventy-seven other writers are doing or have done, and I hope to find a lot more Twitter links that will make me laugh immoderately (again) tomorrow or the next day. 

*** Dranglefab, perhaps.

†  That said, the level of remembering birthdays and anniversaries and things in this household is shockingly high.  We ruin the statistical curve.  But one of the side-effects of being solitary, stay-at-home and cheap, is that sooner or later you gotta break out.  ISN’T IT YOUR BIRTHDAY SOME DAY SOON?  GREAT.  LET’S GO OUT.  I DON’T CARE.  OUT.  And of course there’s two of us staying home and getting squirrelier and squirrelier.  The problem with Peter and me is that our birthdays are only one month apart, and Peter’s is less than a fortnight before Christmas.  This is probably how our tradition of celebrating two mens-aversaries^ every (ahem) month started.  If a breaking-out is needed, there’s always an available day soon. 

^ One for our wedding, and one for the Famous Day I Picked Him Up at the Bangor, Maine Airport and It All Began. 

††  This doesn’t mean you have walk barefoot over burning coals.  Only that you’d rather.


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