Sunday, January 20, 2013


One of the things I worry about the most while writing is the question of whether I actually am a writer. "Am I?" I ask myself, frettingly biting my nails. "If only I knew the signs to look out for!"

So what a piece of luck that I found this helpful article to let me know the little signs that indicate whether someone is a writer or not. For example:

6. When you hear the words “I’m on deadline,” you immediately burst into action, a Pavlovian response to a) always having something due and b) always being behind on it. You’re certain that if they were able to make your procrastination into an energy source, it will solve our nation’s fuel crisis. Or at least make gas cheaper.

Ha! Isn't that priceless. "Fuel crisis"! Oh my yes, we writers certainly do like to procrastinate, don't we?

Or this classic:

11. You have really weird dreams about writing or your favorite writers — like that you suddenly have a great idea for a story but then your computer eats you or that you’re best friends with Emily Dickinson — which, truth be told, is a little boring. Agoraphobes aren’t great partiers. You also dreamt that you were the manager of a Bronte sisters girl group. Charlotte was the Beyonce, Emily was the Kelly and Anne was the Michelle, the one everyone forgets about. 

Oh mercy! Pop culture, eh?

Or how about this:

23. You never stop writing something after you’re done with it, which makes publishing difficult. Eventually you just put a gun to your head and say, “Screw it, I’m done with this.” (Which is how Obama must feel every day.) You’ll later come up with the perfect ending for that piece — a month after publishing it. 

Now this is just adorable. And so true, too - every writer knows that it is impossible to finish writing something, until you do. Life is hard, for writers. Yet also cute and whimsical.

But those 25 signs, as irresistibly truthful and hilarious as they are, just aren't enough, you know? There are so many other ways to decide whether you're a writer or not, even if you don't have an erotic fixation with typewriters or waste all your money on awful tattoos. And so to provide further help to my brothers and sisters in words, and to pay tribute to "Nico Lang", I've come up with my


1. You are, essentially, better than other people.

2. Not only do you carry a pen everywhere, but you constantly hallucinate that there are pens that aren't actually there, and frequently startle passersby with your loud cries of "Ho! Pens!"

3. You are an alcoholic.

4. You write inspirational-yet-incomprehensible slogans on pieces of cardboard like "failure is the first step towards the second step" or "all writing is rewriting" and stick them up on your walls so you can look at them and get a warm glow while you read a magazine profile on Nikki Gemmell.

5. You tell people that you just let the characters take you where they want you to go and don't notice that this makes you sound insane.

6. You literally eat ink.

7. You dress up as your favourite characters from literary history and appear uninvited at strangers' parties bellowing their most memorable lines (see point 3).

8. You slowly begin to metamorphose into a book.

9. You kidnap your editor's children and threaten to slaughter them if they delete a single word from your piece. You do this every week and everyone is used to it by now.

10. You eventually find your typewriter too modern and begin carving all your work into massive stone tablets, which you hurl out your window in a fit of despair after realising you'll never be as great a writer as Kathy Lette.

11. Your name is JK Rowling.

12. When you hear the words "I'm on deadline", you immediately bite whoever said it on the leg, a Pavlovian response to the fact that you used to bite people on the leg pretty often.

13. You have a tattoo of the face of your favourite writer covering your entire face, so you can impersonate them.

14. You often sit in cafes holding a pen against your cheek with a thoughtful-yet-cute expression on your darling little face.

15. You occasionally write something.

16. You are morbidly obese and unable to leave your bed, communicating by hurling Doritos in meaningful patterns on the carpet.

17. You have become firmly convinced that you are a Canadian goose and accuse everyone you meet of stealing your eggs, and I don't know you write a story about this or something maybe.

18. You have an almost insatiable desire to commit acts of violence upon members of your immediate family.

19. You have lost control of your bowels.

20. You keep complaining that sport gets more funding than the arts and so you have no friends.

21. You plan to make everyone pay someday.

22. You own more than fifty high-powered assault weapons.

23. Your muscles have atrophied from lack of use and there is a spider living in your mouth.

24. You can't stop writing lists of signs that you are a writer to reassure yourself that your entire life is not a futile sham concocted by your self-delusive brain in order to avoid facing reality in any way whatsoever.

25. You have just been arrested for molesting a horse.


shellity said...

I wasn't sure until I got to point 19, and now I am congratulating myself.

I'll be back shortly to re-write this comment.

Marmalade said...

#25: Of course, of course.

Louisa said...

I think I'm onto a good start with 3, 20 and 23 and looking forward to some of the others.

MC Grammar said...

Give me back my damn eggs.

Blah Blah said...

Have to disagree with point 19. I am incredibly fixated with my bowel and its motions. Stewed prunes anyone?

Lee Bemrose said...

But Goddamnit sports really does get more funding than the arts and it makes me want to write another cranky letter to the editor.