Why fiction writers are strange …

We fiction writers may look normal, sound normal, act normal and many of us may even have normal day jobs. But we often are less normal than we appear, and not infrequently we live in a world suspended between reality and fiction that is far from normal.

After covering more serious topics, it’s time for a lighter post. My last post on creativity and death was a strange subject which got me to thinking about how we writers are strange. I will unashamedly narrow in on fiction writing today, since as I write fiction, I feel I can speak with some authority on our oddities and foibles.

We fiction writers are strange because:

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  • We invest phenomenal amounts of time conjuring up something from nothing.
  • And then more time again on another kind of magic, re-reading, correcting, tweaking, moving commas, etc.
  • Both of these often for no guaranteed income.
  • Most of us sneak writing into snatched moments circa dawn, when the baby sleeps, in the car while the kids do sports training, after dinner, in the wee hours and/or on weekends.
  • We can jump eras, continents and even galaxies, sometimes several times in one writing session.
  • It is not uncommon to find some of us in last night’s PJs at dinner time (Confession: I wear a t-shirt and trackie pants to bed so it’s not so obvious if someone knocks at the door).
  • I know you’ve read jokes about it: seriously concerning Internet search histories.
  • Many of us babble about our imaginary friends well into our adulthood and as if they are real.
  • The number of voices we can “speak” in is positively disturbing.
  • I bet I’m not the only writer who wishes I could speak words with the impact of the dialogue that I write (especially on the fourth edit when it is parred down to the glistening, quintessential elements).

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  • We notice the world in exquisite and sensuous detail despite spending much of our lives in a fictional world. We can describe the eye-stinging, acrid smoke of a fire starting so vividly you can smell it, but be so involved in our writing that we would probably be oblivious if one were to start, or convey the sound of raindrops pattering on a variety of roof materials, but not notice it was raining, or invoke every nuance on the palate of a delicious dish, while our own fridge and pantry may be bare.
  • We can take what might seem and insignificant moment to others, and change it to having profound meaning.
  • Every story is not just interesting, but also potentially a future scene.
  • We can consort all day with a vast array of interesting characters and yet not see another person.
  • We “kill our darlings”, not without pain, then we celebrate how good it was that we knocked off a character.
  • Some of us create new names and sometimes whole new identities, not just for our characters, but possibly also for ourselves as writers. Some even have several pen-names/identities to hide behind.

Are there any writerly oddities you’d like to add?

I’m certain there will be many worthy additions! If you feel bold enough to publically share any, please feel free to comment below. Happy also to hear about the odd habits of non-writerly creatives.

Thanks for reading this post! Some of my other posts include:

With best wishes for your creative health and that of our community.

Jacquie

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© 2016 Jacquie Garton-Smith

 

11 thoughts on “Why fiction writers are strange …

  1. Jacquie, this is all so (frighteningly) true! I love the observation that we can describe a fire lighting in lyrical detail, but likely wouldn’t notice blaze starting up right nearby!
    And yes, I talk about my characters as if they’re real, too. I love that!

    • Thanks Fi! So glad this post rings true for you. Hoping the fire anecdote isn’t tempting fate though …
      Back to converse with my fictional mates – strangely enough they don’t always behave as I would like them too.

  2. I love this and relate to all of it! I think of myself as normal, but now you’ve written it out like this, it does sound a bit weird. Luckily, there’s a few of us around, and can all be weird together! Thanks for writing. x

    • Thanks Louise! Wonderful to read your thoughts. Apologies for undermining any sense of normality for you, but hey, who wants to be normal anyway? It’s great to be in the company of other writers who understand! x

  3. I’m ticking all of the boxes Jacquie.

    I’m a published author (Factual book about Seroxat) and also have a manuscript collecting dust (‘No Other Man’) – a novel about angels, demons and numerology)

    Another oddity, I guess, would be that writers, at least in my case, tend to have their very own private silver screen playing out scenes. In my case, I even had the musical score.

    Great article!

  4. I think we are all an attempt of telling something we have yet to know. That is why we jump through plots and characters and language. Would you mind checking out my blog? I think you could have an interest in it.

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