Do You Write?

I hate writers.

I like people who write, of course, like them very much, even the bad ones.  I also like people who do not write, especially the ones who express themselves creatively through other forms.  But I hate writers, those people who are so worried about being a writer, looking like a writer, talking like a writer, and otherwise occupying the role of the writer that they cannot be bothered with actually writing.

You can tell people who write from writers quite easily.  People who write, actually write.  Writers, however, spend all their time going to writers’ groups and writer’s conferences, and writers’ festivals and writers’ seminars.  They attend book launches and book signings, read books on how to get published, sit on local arts boards, and are always talking about the one short story they published back in university, just the student arts magazine, of course, but still quite an accomplishment for a young and aspiring writer, don’t you think.  When you ask them about their writing, they inevitably talk about the hell of sitting in front of a blank screen, drinking mug after caffeinated mug, struggling against all life’s petty distractions, just to say something real, you know, something meaningful, something that will show what kind of writer they really are.

When it comes to writing, however, the very first criterion is whether or not you actually write.  You either write, or you do not.  Things are really that simple.  There are other criteria, far more ambiguous, that separate good writers from bad, most of which I fear I fail, but the first question is always whether or not you actually write.  Do you have the need to write, the drive to write, the compulsion to write, the discipline to write?  Are you unable to go without writing?  Is it necessary to you, like an addiction or disease?  Then you are a writer, no matter how badly you write.  Do you spend more time reading books about writing and going to book signings than you actually do writing?  Then you are not a writer, no matter how much you claim to be.

  1. Lauren said:

    Very few things drive me quite as nutso as people who talk, talk, TALK about writing. Especially when they use cutesy language to do so.

  2. Curtis said:

    It sounds like you are frustrated with the hipsters who barnacle themselves to the writing life, or Tolstroy’s complain about the ‘writer’s religion’, constantly struggling to justify themselves.

    Your last paragraph reminds of a quote Rob had shown me some time ago:

    What is your response to say something like Gaiman’s writing, which, more often than not is not just a story, but a clinic in the procedures of what a story is and how it is told, esp. in the case of say, ‘The Kindly Ones’.

  3. Pike said:

    This is terribly accurate.

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