I was watching a celebrity author being interviewed on television the other day and he came off as totally smug and dishonest.
1st his hair was too coifed.
2nd his answers were way too rehearsed, almost as if he’d memorised the questions.
3rd he wouldn’t stop talking about how his novel just came to him in a dream, similar to John Lennon’s flaming pie epiphany. Except this was delivered on a silver cloud.
Just like that, the writer knew the plot, characters and title for his next novel. The rest was a piece of cake. He could have been telling the truth, but I tend to distrust authors who spout platitudes. I know we all want to come off as naturals. Who wants to admit they’ve lost sleep or gained facial tics over plot and structure?
Personally, I prefer my writers gritty and a little worn around the edges. That’s not to say that years from now I too won’t be sporting big hair and giving suave answers during interviews.
Before that happens, let’s talk about 7 things writers don’t usually like to admit:
1. Writers are control freaks This doesn’t really need an explanation, it just needs to be said.
2. Writers are notoriously jealous of other writers It sucks when others gets picked before you do. Sucks doubly hard when their books aren’t even good. Smile and congratulate your writer friends and hopefully they’ll be biting back bile when it’s your turn.
3. Most writers suffer from self-doubt If someone had told me the anxiety would eat away at me like an ulcer, I would have seriously tried a less stress-producing profession, like gator wrestling or air-traffic controlling. It’s not just the stomach cramps, it’s the writhing moments of self doubt, lying on the floor in fetal position, plagued by existential questions: Why do I write? Why should anyone care what I have to say? How can I call myself a writer? Why not quit and do something better paid and less soul destroying. Why????
4. Writing hurts I don’t know why this is so surprising. You spend all day recalling your ghosts and demons. Once they’re with you, it is hard to make them go away again. Writing is right up there with childbirth and that time I had a cavity and the dentist didn’t properly administer Novocain.
5. Writing is a lover that takes you for granted First you go at it hot and heavy. You are inseparable. You can’t get enough of each other. Then you’re on the rocks. You turn cold. You stop talking. One day you pack writing’s bags and promise yourself never again. A few months later you’re back with open arms. On again/off again/on again. It’s a passion thing.
6. Writing breeds contempt After years of eating/breathing/sleeping and walking with the same characters in your head, you are sick to death of your story. You know the words so well, the patterns and dialogues; the high points and weaknesses. There are no surprises left. You fantasize about putting your work in a box, driving out the country and leaving it there on the side of the road.
7. The sound of silence terrifies you. Synchronicity on the other hand makes an audible clicking noise. Especially when you hit your stride. It’s amazing when it happens, but you can go months, even years waiting to hear it. You try to shut out all the other sounds, Pretty soon you’re as uptight and crazed as the resident neighbourhood grump chasing kids away with a baseball bat.
Come on writers, admit it!