Becoming a Writer (Mistake #106)

Know any Writers? I hope not. I’ve shared breathing space with several over the years and how my personal swearbox remained unfilled on each occasion remains a matter of mystery to me.

A Writer is three things:

a/ a former aspiring writer

b/ a current professional writer, and

c/ a writer who wants all current aspiring writers to be kept in their place – which is outside the (preferably) locked gates of Professional Writing World, where they can pursue their (eye roll …) correspondence courses and not trouble the proper Writers within with their sincere questions about the publishing business.

What do Writers like to do?

They like to describe how the ordinary non-writing hoi polloi have No Clue About How Hard Writers Work.

They’re fond of moaning about the rubbish ideas that only-trying-to-be-helpful friends and family give them in passing.

They like to sneer about the brain surgeon who confided to them a desire to write an autobiography, because how dare anyone who is not a writer be bold enough to think they may have a story to tell?

There’s a bit of mockery of those who write for This England, People’s Friend, Ireland’s Own and The Dalesman and think that they’re writers, of course.

Then they like to boast about how they did not respond “I’ve always wanted to be a rocket scientist, but I’ve never found the time” to the rocket scientist they met at a party who told them “I’ve always wanted to be a writer, but I’ve never found the time”. This is definitely brag-worthy, because only Writers work hard, and everybody else has all the leisure time in the world.

It is not acceptable to a Writer that non-writers and aspiring writers believe they can easily become writers. Because if it’s perceived as easy, it signifies the Writer’s obvious genius has not been properly recognised. I mean, seriously, people — have you not seen the capital w in Writer, or what?

No. You must understand it is Tough. This will mean you go “Ooh, really?” not “Oh right” when a Writer tells you he’s a writer. Respond inappropriately (“Better watch what I say then!” / “Have you been published anywhere interesting?”) and you’ll be rewarded with the correspondence-course eye-roll.

Oh, and they moan about the reading public for reading the wrong stuff (anything that the Writer didn’t write). They say ‘Sigh’ a lot. You know, just a one-word sentence. Sigh. Because ordinary people are so tiresome and sigh-some when they fail to appreciate how brilliant the output of true Writers is.

Who are the Writers?

In my experience, a lot of the time it is left-leaning people who are like this — the very same who see themselves as tolerant and egalitarian, but appear curiously blind to their baffling brand of writerly right-wingness.

It’s people who have no doubt worked hard, and made it, but, I suspect, always wanted to make it for too many of the wrong reasons.

Please, aspiring writers: when you become a writer, please don’t also become a Writer.

Comments 6

  • This made me smile, Alex! I've certainly come across some Writers too. One moderately successful novelist (who shall be nameless) was scathing when I dared to say I liked the fact that his/her latest novel was set in Birmingham. "Oh, I HATE it when people say that!" was the response, as though it was a really stupid thing to say. What I meant, of course, was that, as a Brummie myself, I recognised the places in the book and it enhanced my enjoyment but somehow that was considered trivial or beneath contempt! Writers (with a capital W) are WEIRD!

  • Ah good – that was the intention! So glad it isn't just me, then! Perhaps – considering your experience – some writers struggle with accepting compliments? I know sometimes in the past I've batted them away out of modesty – but perhaps some writers are just bad at doing so?

  • I do think some have trouble accepting compliments or reaching out a hand to beginners who just want a bit of encouragement.

  • I'm a writer – but obviously not a Proper Writer! Please don't tell anyone I'm an improper one though as it might get back the the editors of Ireland's Own and make them stop taking my stuff.

  • I love Ireland's Own … (im)proper writers and all!

  • Yep, I'm inclined to agree …

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