Things you can get away with as a writer.


There are a number of disadvantages to writing as a career. For instance, there’s that thing about making enough money to actually live on. And then there’s that thing about people thinking you watch tv all day. So, obviously, since so many people want to do it, there has to be an upside, right? Right. There are perks. You get to do things professionally that most people consider unproductive, if not downright rude. Here’s my list of favorite writing perks:

  1. Daydreaming. My personal favorite. I can’t tell you how often I was in the principal’s office for this one, or how often my parents were told that I was really (probably) capable of passing (some of) my classes if I would just “apply” myself. As a working writer “daydreaming” becomes “plotting” and “getting to know your characters.” It is the essence of the work, the heart and soul, the fun part.
  2. Eavesdropping. Writer eavesdropping is a completely different thing from what your gossipy old Aunt Pauline does when she stands in the greeting card section of Walmart pretending to look for a birthday card for her neighbor’s cat while she’s really listening to the woman on the other side of the isle crying into her cell about how her boyfriend, Dwayne, forgot their anniversary again and she just doesn’t know if it’s because he’s secretly in love with his dental hygienist or if it’s just the playoffs keeping him preoccupied… and you know Pauline’s neighbor doesn’t even have a cat. No, writers eavesdrop because we love to listen to dialog. We love to read it, hear it, watch it play out. We love to listen to the way people put their words together, the way they say what they mean, and what they don’t mean, and what they don’t say at all. Writers are word-junkies, we can’t help it. If there’s words going on within earshot, you’d better believe we’re listening.
  3. Fabrication and/or Embellishment. My 1st grade teacher, Mrs. Dooley, was a hell-fire and damnation evangelical educator, with a Texas accent, a rock-solid beehive hairdo, and a seething contempt for dishonesty in any form that could come from a 6 year old. It was the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth in her class. I liked stories, and even at that age I knew the truth was sometimes not really what people wanted at all. It was a difficult year and I came out of it even more deeply committed to fiction as a viable alternative reality, a philosophy that served me well through the rest of my educational career. Writers, in general, aren’t in it to lie. We just want to make the story more interesting, more entertaining, more exciting … more fun. Since this is frowned on in polite society, we get to write books.
  4. Imaginary Friends and Playing Pretend. When I was little, Fridays were best because we were allowed “free play” at recess. It was a tiny little reprieve from the hell of dodgeball. Every other day of the week I was the last one picked, the one nobody wanted because I couldn’t catch, throw, or run worth beans, but on Friday I was in demand because the game was Pretend and I made good stories. I am blessed/cursed with a VIVID imagination. If I don’t give it something constructive to do it will run around in my head like a hyperactive border collie puppy, chewing up the furniture and painting scenarios of impending doom. When I am working on a book I can listen to my imaginary friends, I can play pretend with their lives, and it’s my job.
posted under Writing Life
One Comment to

“Things you can get away with as a writer.”

  1. Avatar March 29th, 2011 at 2:21 pm Lacie J Says:

    I completely agree! I think this relates to artists such as Thomas Bayrle and Konrad Klapheck as well. :)

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