Don’t take this personally, this is not for you. It is for the other guy. But I am going to take it upon myself to speak for my fellow scribblers. We are an odd lot so some explanation does seem appropriate. For instance, if you see us in a crowd of strangers (a very rare occurrence – we don’t get out much) we will be the one in the corner, not talking. You might think we are a snob, or aloof, or at least a non-communative dolt. That is not true. We are shy. We have always been shy. We express ourselves by writing much better than we do by talking. However, if we are still working we will probably be in some vocation that allows us to “pretend” to be someone else…like an actor or in radio or TV or the recording industry. We have had full time non-related jobs, but we have always been a writer.
If you offer us a drink or a snort of cocaine or a hit off your hash pipe, we will decline. We have already fought those demons and keep them in check by constant surveillance. If not, we wouldn’t be here, we would have died long ago. Writing is hard enough when we are sober.
We have probably been divorced, perhaps multiple times. That is because we are moody and difficult to live with. Not that we are abusive, but we are daydreamers and often our minds are off somewhere just when our spouse feels the need for us to give full attention to his or her feelings.
We are not usually good with children because most of us came from dysfunctional families and we never learned how to deal with “little” people. We would like to have a pet, but knowing that pet will die sometime is a hurt that we would find hard to handle.
We are voracious readers and we have been known to visit people and spend time reading their books and magazines while our spouse carries on a conversation. We seldom go anywhere without a book.
We don’t belong to book clubs, or writer’s “forums.” Those things would just take time that we could use better by writing. If we are called upon to “read” from some of our work at a group, we might do a poor job of it. That is because when we read something we have written in the past it is like reading someone else’s work, so we may stumble over words.
If you see us at a book signing, please have a copy of our book for us to sign. It is embarrassing to sign our names to some other author’s work. Also, you will not be able to read our signature. And please don’t ask us to dedicate it to your twenty best friends. Hopefully there are people in line behind you.
If we go around with what looks like a sad expression on our faces, it is usually because we suffer from some sort of depression. And telling us to “buck up” and “choose to be happy” just lets us know that you have never known what real depression is.
We are grateful for your comments on our work, but we won’t take your advice. Not that we are unappreciative but whether you like, or don’t like, our characters is immaterial. Our characters are not “us,” we are just the purveyors of their words and actions. Strange as it may seem to you, we don’t put words in the mouths of our characters, they speak for themselves.
We will listen to you tell us about a great “idea” you have for a sure-fire best seller novel, but we will let you write it. We know that when you say you just need a “little help” with it, that you want us to write your novel. We don’t do other people’s work, unless we get paid for it.
We are constantly amazed that you can get so emotionally involved with our characters. We are craftsmen, we take pieces of a puzzle and put them in a cogent form, but they are not real people, they exist only in your imagination.
We don’t take criticism well. We are human beings and if you take something we have written and attack us personally on it, we just accept that you are an asshole. If you take offense at something we write, that is your problem.
If you pick apart the work we do, we challenge you to write a 150,000 to 200,000 word novel, make the plot logical, the characters seem real, and the situations plausible, and do it in less than a year. Then, and only then, will we be willing to listen to your critique of our work.
And finally, if you are not a writer none of the above will make any sense to you. If you are a writer, you know exactly what I mean.