A Shy Tortured Artist? Bullshit!
I am a writer. But you already know that as you are reading my words. In fact, if you (ahem) Google Lady Lolita you will find a million more words written by me. And even more by my other pen names, depending if you want to read business blogs, newspaper articles or a steamy novel or two. God damn it! I have spewed out enough words over the years, in enough of an interesting and unique order, that have created enough tongue-wagging, praise and Twitter trolling, to call myself a proper writer. Basically I write down words that people want to read.
So the definition of a writer is a simple one, right? Apparently not.
Because based on all the information out there about what writers are like, I wonder if I really am one. I also wonder if the dozens of friends I have that are published authors and talented scribes are really writers too. Why? Because we aren’t reclusive, unsociable pricks, that’s why. Neither are we frumpy, grumpy tortured artists locked up in a dusty loft frantically scribbling down our genius thoughts and trying to change the world. In fact I have come to the conclusion that everything that everyone thinks about writers is wrong.
To help you out a little, here is a list of all the things us writers are NOT:
This really fucks me off. You see, for some reason if you are creative you are not allowed to know about your talents. Such as the great artists of old that died drunk and penniless having never sold any of their amazing oil paintings, then became famous once dead. Yes, in the past it may have been like that – what with Marketing and PR not having been such a big thing in the 17th century. But not now, now we are allowed to SHOUT about our work. How else is anyone going to read it, buy it, like it or slag you off on Twitter? And those that are not comfortable, in this day and age, about sharing their masterpieces are missing out. You don’t get the Booker Prize for being modest and telling everyone that the novel you spent ten years writing is probably a pile of crap – you get it for talent… so you need to make sure someone actually knows what you have done and that you think it’s actually pretty good.
Oh yes, I work for free. All this tap, tap, tapping on my laptop takes no time at all. All my ideas are totally gratis. I have an ever-flowing deluge of ground-breaking quips and tips at my disposal, and my time, energy and creativity (which, by the way, is completely unique to me) is worth nothing at all. Errrr NO! I totally get how standing behind a shop counter or fixing a car is easier to understand, that 8 hours on your feet or providing a new motor is a lot more quantifiable for an employee to calculate pay for – but creative people can’t charge per hour. Sometimes it takes but a few minutes to write something that will go viral in record time, other times is takes days or even weeks of painstaking research to ensure that that teensy paragraph (that you have no idea whether any bugger will even read) is 100% accurate. So if you want a writer to write something for you, then pay them whatever they ask for. Or do it yourself. Oh you can’t? That’s because you lack the skill, talent and experience to write… which is what writers are for.
Do I sound shy to you? Last time I went out with a bunch of writers we sat in a dark corner of the pub, sipping espressos and whispering about Chaucer in our cable-knit jumpers; stopping every five minutes to lick our worn-down pencil stub and jot down ideas on the back of a napkin. Not really. We got completely wasted watching some shite rock band, playing pool and getting chatted up by the lead singer of said shite rock band. But we don’t always tell everyone we are writers. Because when we do people do one of two things – back away (they don’t want their actions being fodder for our next article, unlucky, it already is) or ask us a million questions (desperate to live forever as a character in our latest novel). So no, we aren’t all shy recluses. Some of us dance on tables and flirt with boys young enough to be our sons. Some of us. Okay, just me then.
Private? If there was one way to describe me (and the other Glass House Girls), Private would be the last word. As you know I write about my own awkward experiences – pube removal, childbirth, shagging small penises and mother-in-laws. Does that sound private to you? If the internet has done anything to change evolution, it’s created a generation of dirty-washing-waving over-sharers. But I think it’s great! I want to know what you had for dinner, and what you think about the latest celebrity faux pas and that your kid has started potty training – actually, not that, I can do without the pictures thanks. The problem is that those who started writing before the worldwide web was spun have an issue with it. You see, through their eyes, a blogger, columnist or copywriter is somehow less of a writer for appearing on-line. Or for promoting themselves. Or for not suffering for their art. WHICH IS BULLSHIT. If you can write well enough for people to read what you do and enjoy it, then write as much as you can and call yourself a writer. Don’t worry, the book deals and agents and awards will follow, but first write and then make sure people read it. And privacy isn’t very helpful with all of that.
If you look at funny cartoons of writers, or watch films about them, they are always sitting in their bathrobe in a messy office littered with screwed up balls of paper at their feet, a sleeping cat by their side and lots of dirty cups of coffee. Well I’m currently sitting on my sofa, surrounded by kids, wearing shorts and a vest top with the Disney Channel blaring. I do have a cat nearby, but she’s not friendly or trying to sit on my laptop like in the movies. She’s pretty crap, as far as visual accessories go. So what I am saying is that writers (and yes, not just the patronizingly-named Mummy Bloggers) come in all shapes and sizes. When I wrote my first novel I had a full time job, two small children and no desk. E.L.James invented Mr Grey while sitting on a train with her blackberry. J.K.Rowling built Hogwarts while sitting in a cafe with her screaming infant on her lap. We are not all middle-aged, reclusive, set-in-our-way cardi wearers. And anyway, I prefer Mojitos to coffee…it gets the creative juices flowing a lot better, in my opinion.
Out of Touch
Well that’s shit as well. Out of touch with reality? Really?
You think a good writer, someone that creates believable characters, speaks in their voice and walks in their shoes can do that if they don’t switch the telly on or read the newspaper once in a while? No. A writer needs to understand people and the way life is evolving around us. Yes, we live in our heads most of the time. I say ‘mmmm, maybe, darling’ far too many times to my children’s questions because I’m not really listening, I’m creating beautiful, wonderful characters in my head and then plotting what terrible things to do to them. But occasionally we look up from our laptops, make eye contact with other mortals, and even talk about things that aren’t very high-brow. Plus if we didn’t connect with the world, what would we have to slag off in our blogs and articles? Exactly.
Well, actually, that bit is true. Because no bastard pays us the millions we are worth.
So my laptop, Mojito and I are off back to the sofa to write about the unfairness of it all… and hopefully get paid for my undisputed talents!