Saturday, September 08, 2007

The Human Writer

It was tempting to call this post "The Sub-Human Writer" or "The Normal Writer", but it's only in writers' circles/groups that being a writer is normal - to the rest of the world, especially our families, we are often just weird. As for Sub-Human, I think that's how you feel when you're working two or three jobs and trying to write as well (I think I have taken on Job Number Four now as Building Project Manager, but I don't want to think about that).
So, the Human Writer:
* can stay up until 3am to write that novel every now and then, but suffers for it for days afterwards and tends to fall asleep at dinner time, resulting in a face covered in risotto
* staggers around the library wondering who the hell wrote all these books, and why wasn't it me?
* looks for their own book in the library catalogue, and then finds it on the shelf and puts it on the Great Reads display
* looks for their own book in the bookshops and puts it facing out on the shelf, in front of the latest best-seller
* often gets depressed or down-hearted, often starts wondering about that job advertised at Pizza Hut
* has a ritual fire every now and then and burns rejection letters
* writes short stories occasionally, just as a mental break from novels, and wishes that you could still earn good money from them
* fails to manage other aspects of life and constantly sees writing time shrinking like the woolly top in hot water
* fails to manage family so they constantly infringe on writing time (and are resentful and complain about burnt dinners and piles of books everywhere and housework undone)
* networks with great effort and is prone to putting foot into mouth, but loves getting together with other writers and just talking about writing and books - it's the best!
* truly celebrates the writing successes of friends
* often has one published writer who is a bete noir and causes deep feelings of envy that are well-concealed (because it's a small world)
* recognises rewriting is crucial and is always looking for ways to become a better self-editor
* is a keen reader and gets through as many books as possible, while reading as a writer at the same time (which sometimes mars the enjoyment but is always fruitful)
* writes poems as well and loves the language-stretching that poetry inspires
* is never invited to speak at festivals and conferences because fame hasn't hit yet, and privately is OK about it because public speaking is pretty scary
* loves to celebrate achievements with champagne and wishes there were more, and too bad about the hangover
* suffers from blurry eyesight and RSI on a regular basis, but figures it's worth it, and is also doing stretches and exercises to make sure the extra computer hours don't do too much damage
* has a regular blog and hopes to be connecting with other writers and readers
* is spectacularly unphotogenic so that all author photos look terrible, and hiding behind a pile of books by other people is not an option so one day (when the big book - the break-through one - gets published) promises self a studio portrait that can be flashed anywhere without cringing.


Tracey said...

"truly celebrates the writing successes of friends" -- this is something the perfect writer does, rather than the human right, I think. (And isn't it nice to think that in at least one way we are perfect writers! I know too many writers who are competitive and see someone else's success as a market they have to crack (not just an opportunity of a market that welcomes the type of writing they're doing).

And some human writers prefer chocolate to champagne, and yes there's never enough!

And, I've seen some very lovely photos of you, believe it or not!

Tracey said...


Er, that's the missing parenthesis that comes after the full stop in that first para! Oops. See, the human writer doesn't always proofread their work when they should, either.

Sherryl said...

Posting this for Sue W, who emailed me:
Hi Sherryl

I've only recently found your blog and couldn't resist commenting on 'The Human Writer'. I can relate strongly to many of the points raised - especially the networks with great effort line - glad to hear I'm not alone...and on being invited to speak...fame hasn't hit yet - I have to say I've been aware of you as a writer for a few years now (is that fame???). As a chapter book writer I connected with your "Susie the Life Saver" and your author comment at the end (it could have been me writing those words). Sue W.