Recently, I’ve had the opportunity to spend time with my writing peeps. My tribe, so to speak. I’ve had a few events back to back and began to realize how crazy I feel most of the time. Except when I’m with other writers.
Then I feel completely normal.
It’s a good lesson to be reminded of because sometimes, I’m a bit fearful my husband is looking at me like he’s been inventorying institutional homes for people like me.
All of this togetherness with my tribe led me to begin thinking of all those signs I exhibit that society would term *special*. For all the writers out there struggling to make sense of it all, here’s a handy dandy list to refer to. If you can cross off at least eight of these warning signs – don’t worry about flunking that psychological test.
You’re just a writer.
I’m very sorry. Good luck.
1. You Talk to Yourself -this is the biggest sign something is amiss. There are voices in my head—All the time! And I find myself my own best company. I figure things out by muttering, mumbling, and sometimes announcing amazing things my brain has been chewing on. This is how I fix plot holes, herd unruly characters, or just whine about how hard my life really is being trapped in a tiny room for endless hours in the day with no water cooler talk to help burn off some of the crazy. Oh, and if you still talk to yourself when there are people around, congratulations. You’re probably an extremely talented writer.
2. You Talk to Your Pet – Writers have pets. Writers need pets. Cats or dogs are the primary companions of choice, but I know many who have rabbits, birds, cows, chickens, or horses. Anything goes in the furry world. Basically, this is the only other person you talk to other than yourself. The bond with my dog goes deeper than any other relationship in my life because she loves me no matter what, and is actually happy to listen to me babble on about my manuscript without getting bored.
3. Ninety-five percent of the time, you look like a homeless person. Yeah, it was a sad day when my kids decided the bus was better than other people seeing me pick them up. I guess crazy, tangled, unwashed hair, pajama pants, slip-on sandals or slippers, and a giant fake fur coat even in spring isn’t a normal look for parents. When I wear normal clothes and comb my hair, they all gather around and compliment me on how pretty I look. Just get used to it—your wardrobe will never change. And forget about all those designer shoes you love to buy—most of the time you’re barefoot or will stuff your feet into the first thing you see. Goodbye Louboutin’s. Those are for real working people.
4. The word DEADLINE puts you into a fearful frenzy, along with your entire family. It’s funny that the definition seems harmless, and Webster doesn’t even warn you about the trigger effects for writers. When approaching deadline, everything crumbles around me. There is no more food; there is no rational conversation, and the children raise themselves. I’m pretty much a sobbing mess who never leaves my office, and I eat when my husband stands at my door and throws food in, like an animal at the zoo. My appearance suffers –see #3 above but worse.
5. You feel like an imposter and a failure the majority of the time. Do you believe your books are written by magic, and that you got lucky the last thirty-three times, but THIS time everyone will figure out you’ve been a fraud? Are you concerned that this is the project that will tank your entire career? Do you march into the kitchen and announce the house must be sold because there will be NO more money available after this horrible, awful, no-good book is finally published because it SUCKS? If so, don’t worry. This is the way you will feel for the rest of your life so buckle up baby, and get used to it.
6. Your Google Search Engine is Flagged by the Federal Government. Honestly? We look like either sexual predators/perverts or a terrorist. The stuff I’ve looked up online is embarrassing and scary. It encompasses – what is the best weapon to murder someone with in order to cover up the crime? – to How do you use chains and rope to tie someone up for safe sex—and of course, How do you start a meth lab on your own? Just make peace with it. You’re going to be on the hot list for a long, long time.
7. You believe that imaginary characters are REAL. I talk about my heroes and heroines as regular people, because to me, they are. They live and breathe, they had struggles and failures, and they eventually fought to the end to give readers hope. I created them. My heroes sleep in the bed with me next to my husband (creepy image, right?) and when people ask about my favorites, they grumble and fight in my head because they don’t want to hear me choose. Once, my mother asked me if I could please stop using so many curse words in my book. When I explained I had nothing to do with it—it’s up to the character—she got annoyed and said I was the one who controlled everything and that I could just make them stop cursing. Boy, I wish. I wish I had control, because I’m just the director, taking orders from the characters to sketch out their story.
8. You hate people. – I have begged my husband numerous times to put up a barbed wire, electric, prison-type fence so no one can get in. Or out. I dread going “out there” and being forced to talk to actual people I didn’t create. It’s hard and stressful. My brain is always foggy. And real people want you to wear real pants. That sucks.
9. You rarely leave the house. Listen, I’m old now but I was forced to go out into the world too many times because we had nothing like Amazon, Walmart pick up Pea Pod grocery delivery, or Uber Eats. Simply put – there is no good reason you need to go out there anyway. Once they start delivering wine to my door, I’ve passed my last obstacle.
10. You like to drink. Yeah, that’s right. I’m not afraid to put this on the list. And don’t get me wrong, I love my wine, but my real obsession is coffee in all its lovely forms. You need something in your cup because sitting at a desk for long hours with no one around practically demands you get to sip at some type of liquid that gives you pleasure. Hot cocoa, iced tea, flavored seltzers, sodas, lemonade, etc. My preference is coffee most of the morning, water/seltzer/tea all afternoon, and wine at night. Aren’t we blessed its pumpkin spice season?
That’s it. The top ten. If you do at least seven of these things, you may want to admit you’re a writer or a wannabe writer. All you have to do to change from a wannabe writer to a real writer is sit down and put some words on the page. Just write – a lot – and you’ll figure out the rest later.
I just typed THE END on my latest book today, and besides feeling like cotton balls have been stuffed in my head, I’m also pretty elated. All that hard work and creating a story from nothing worked out again.
Tomorrow, I get to start the whole process over, and you better believe I’ll hit every item on this list.
Peace out, my peeps. Happy writing!