A couple weeks ago, I wrote a column about the lies of writing. It did pretty well so I followed it up with a column about the truths about writing. That one didn’t do so well, so I’m going back to the lies.
This time I thought I’d talk about some of the lies about authors. Now, when I say “lies,” I’m really talking about stereotypes. If you’re sitting there and thinking, “But Jim, a stereotype isn’t technically a lie,” then I would have to agree with you. Stereotypes are not, technically, a lie. However, for the purposes of this column, I’m going to have to ask that you consider the stereotype that “All stereotypes are lies” to be factual.
Don’t ask me to make sense of that last sentence. I won’t.
1. Authors are addicted to (insert substance). Personally, I haven’t consumed a caffeinated beverage in over a month. At the end of January, I made a goal to not drink anything that had caffeine in it for the month of February. Why February? It’s the shortest month of the year, that’s why. Before I quit that substance, I was drinking at least two pots of coffee a day. I was addicted to caffeine. Bad. When I was doing research for this particular column, I noticed that other columnists wouldn’t lump all the addictive substances together. Authors chain smoke or Authors are prone to alcoholism or Authors need gallons of coffee. You might as well just say that all authors are addicted to something. Now, there are those famous authors like Hemingway, King, Poe, and even Sir Arthur Conan Doyle that struggled with addictions of one kind or another. However, I’d like to think that every human is addicted to something in their lives. Work, exercise, pornography, video games, reading books (currently me), or even sugar. It’s not just an author trait. Maybe authors are more known for it because we can work and still be under the influence. I would refill my coffee cup every 600-700 words when I was in a steady writing session.
2. Authors are broke. Yep, that’s not a lie…onto the next one.
3. Authors have a god complex. For me, this one is a tricky one because I’m a Christian. For all intents and purposes, I could see how this one could be true. The first book of the Bible, Genesis for all you heathens out there, starts out with a whole bunch of worldbuilding. Thankfully, God isn’t a pantser (an author that writes without a plot). Jokes and puns aside, an author creates a world out of thin air and fills it with characters that have to do the author’s bidding. If that’s not a god complex, then I don’t know what is. However, I would like to think that 99% of authors don’t go around outside their own fictional worlds acting as if they were gods.
4. All Authors are hermits. Yes, authors spend most of their careers inside their own homes in front of their computers. Yes, authors most likely prefer talking to fictional people instead of real ones. Yes, there’s a large majority of authors that like to write in coffee shops in order to people watch. Having said all of that, let me tell you about the time I traveled to Seattle for the 2014 Association of Writers and Writing Programs Conference. I traveled with a group of fellow writers from the Indiana University South Bend Creative Writing Club. In order to fund the trip, we sold fireworks in the parking lot of our local Wal-Mart. It was amazing. When we finally got to Seattle, the conference had a nightly dance party with a free bar. Now, if you ever want to see something really entertaining, you find a disco hall filled with drunken writers. Not a hermit in sight.
5. Authors are amazing at word games. Every time I sit down to a nice game of Scrabble with my friends, they always expect me to blow them out of the water because I’m an author. Don’t get me started with Words with Friends. I verbally beat myself up when I lose a game because I should be a walking dictionary. I should be able to throw up several combinations of letters that will fetch me the winning 96 points that happened to land on a triple letter tile. What most people don’t know is that all of those games are games of chance. Sometimes you get the perfect combinations of consonants and vowels. Sometimes you get seven A’s. The worst thing is getting a Q without a U.
There is a plethora of lies that I could continue on with, but that’s another rant for another day. Besides, I have to go lose to my sister on Words with Friends now. Currently, I’m leading with 52 points over her, but I feel like she’ll score on a triple letter tile to defeat her author brother. Plus, I’m sitting on five vowels with a T and a D to accompany them.
But, like a film friend of mine used to say, “Life’s like a bag of Scrabble tiles, you never know what you’re gonna get.”
Wait, that’s now how it goes…
Categories: Mastering the Craft