Southern belle with a story to tell. Refreshing iced tea served after literary punches thrown.

Saturday, March 2, 2013

So What ARE Writers Like In Real Life? Let's Bust Some Myths!

Mrs. Smith (from three doors down) is walking to your house with a plate of gooey, warm, chocolate chip cookies in hand.  Suddenly, she's stopped in the driveway by your next door neighbor, wild-eyed and speaking in hushed tones.
next door neighbor :  "Wait, don't go over there."
Mrs. Smith:  "Why not?"
next door neighbor:  "Her husband John, well, how do I put this...he's a writer."
Mrs. Smith:  "A writer?  You don't say."
next door neighbor:  "Yes.  And while he seems normal on the surface, you know, going to and from work, it's his late nights that scare us."
Mrs. Smith:  "How so?"
next door neighbor:  "Sometimes through an open window, we hear him laughing to himself for hours, and then he talks in funny voices, like he's got multiple personalities.  He's sick that one.  Just plain sick!"
Mrs. Smith:  (Gasps & drops cookies) 

We've all endured the long-standing myths that surround the mystique of being a writer, and while we may be a motley crew,
No, not THAT kind of motley crue
 we're pretty much like everybody else you'd meet, except for one big thing.

We have overactive imaginations.  

Now that's out of the way, I feel it's time we collectively discuss the crazy myths people believe about writers.

Myth 1:  Writers overly partake of the vine.

I personally don't know any writer in real life who has a liver the size of Wrigley Field due to excessive gin-swilling.  It's a myth.  Get over it.

From "The Lost Weekend", the film that started all this crap.
Myth 2:  We regularly jump about in fountains for fun.
Centennial Olympic Park's fountains light up the night!

Thanks F. Scott.  Thanks a lot for this one.

Now while writers don't specifically go around doing this, there is nothing wrong with jumping into a perfectly fine fountain on a hot day.  I myself, have walked barefoot & splashed in the fountains above at Centennial Olympic Park during a ninety-plus degree day in Hotlanta.  

But I wouldn't say I did that because my super-duper creative personality or "the muse" made me do it.  Hell it was hot, and I was sweating bullets walking through the park.  It sounded like a good idea at the time.  But no, I didn't wade into the water because it's something a writer is supposed to want to do.  This myth is also busted.

Myth 3:  Writers must love Ramen noodles.  It is said we eat Ramen noodles all day & splurge on  weekends dining on 'sketti & butter.  After all, when one becomes a writer, they enter the "starving artist" phase of life, right?

Okay, while the myth is silly, there is a little truth to the innuendo as most writers don't earn big bucks doing what they love.

For the most part, the writers I know support themselves and their families with their proverbial "day job". And I for one, love my day job!  It keeps my mind sharp and I love helping people and solving the mystery as to what's making them sick.  (Any wonder I write in suspense/thriller genre?)  

Look, we'd all love to make millions writing, but the truth is very few writers make a ton of money, so we do what we can to support our families and the hobby/would-be profession we love.  As for me, I write mostly at night or on weekends.  And I do not eat Ramen noodles.  Never have, never will.  Too salty.

Which brings me to the next myth...which apparently happens after we exit the "starving artist" phase of our would-be careers.

Myth 4:  Once published,  writers become filthy-rich celebrities!

Fifty shades of NO!

Look, if my manuscript gets published, I won't hold my breath waiting for Oprah to call.  I can also entertain fantasies involving offers from either The Science Channel or Bravo to star in a reality show based upon my uncanny ability to write a book based on obscure scientific or crime-related topics, but I realize that is probably not gonna happen.

And here's another secret.  We don't write for the bucks, we do it because we love telling great stories.

I know this whole dream is an uphill battle, but it's a war I'm willing to fight.  My sword is my pen and my shield is the thick thesaurus sitting by my laptop.  Bring it on!

Therefore, please be nice to your writer friends.  They have dreams, and most of them will have theirs crushed.  Send them chocolate and flowers, or just smile and pat them on the back.  Or you could take them out for an afternoon of fountain-jumping and booze-swilling.

After all, you know what we like to do, right? (wink)

But damn, it sure would be nice to be one of the ones who do make it.  If I did sell bazillions of books, you can bet I'd re-enact this scene over and over in real life just for fun (and to be rather annoying).  Except my driver would be an ex-special forces guy who could really inflict some damage to the condiment aisle. 

There I go again.  Must be that wild, over-active imagination I've got.

So tell me, what are some of the myths you've heard about writers?  Are they true or just a bunch of baloney?  


T.J. said...

Writing can make you WANT to enlarge your liver, walking in fountains can be dangerous (eww to all the little microbes - same reason I don't swim in ponds), and I would LOVE to make a gajillion dollars yearly writing books - I'll be lucky if half a dozen actually buy this swill and read it. *shrug* Still wouldn't give it up. Now hand over the Ramen. My day job doesn't pay enough...

Joey Francisco said...

Excellent points there T.J. I'll trade you my spare packet of Ramen noodles if you pass me the bottle.

Going to put my coat on now. It's rather chilly in GA today. Don't want to catch cold when I commence my afternoon fountain-jumping.

Michelle 4 Laughs said...

Don't like wine. Haven't played in fountains since I was a kid. Don't like ramen, though my artist daughter eats it all the time. Don't talk to myself, but often miss questions directed at me because my mind is a thousand miles away.

I've heard it said writers tend to have artistic/sensitive children. Hmm. I think that one is true.

Carissa Taylor said...

Hahaha, love thispost!

... just finished novel ... must find fountain ... must find ... *wanders in writerly daze*

Joey Francisco said...

Michelle, I agree w/you on writers having sensitive/creative kids. My son loves sports, but last year he randomly sat down and decided to write his own thriller for his language arts class.

It was actually pretty good. Ended up being a rather short tale about a mission to retrieve a downed spy satellite on the top of snowy Mt. Kilimanjaro.

He gets it from me. (Yikes!!!)

77yankees said...

Great job! & Thanks, Joey, for tackling and busting these myths with an interesting and amusing read.

The more I learn about writing the more it becomes crystal clear that a genuine love for doing it is the cornerstone to a solid foundation, not late nights at the bar, nor a life of excessive indulgence, etc. though a cool refreshening beer on a hot Summer's day can be quite a treat.

Nice read. Happy Sunday!

Joey Francisco said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Joey Francisco said...

Just figured out that's you Mr. Ford! Thank you again for the compliment, and you're very right. The love of writing is THE heart of the writer, and it's what makes us keep pushing ahead to improve our skills and to search for a compelling story to tell.

And today feels like spring in ATL, and who knows? I just might seek out a nice fountain to splash about in! ;)

Joey Francisco said...

Thanks Carissa! I would go find a nice fountain to splash about it tomorrow, but the Weather Channel says it's going to start off at a brisk 27 degrees.