When fantasy author A.S. Akkalon told me she had been studying the online world of writers and learning about their peculiar ways I knew she had to write me a guest post on her findings. Posts on this topic are always welcome on BlondeWriteMore.
A.S. Akkalon describes herself as a fantasy author who puts dreams of medieval castles, swords and dragons onto paper. We met through her comments on my blog posts.
If you get a chance you must read her ‘About Me’ page on her blog. It is one of the best ‘About’ pages I have ever read and it made me smile.
So, please welcome A.S. Akkalon
Eighty-three percent of people want to be writers,** but not just anyone can be.
For the past six months I have been deep undercover in the online world of writers, learning their peculiar ways in order to better mimic them and hopefully one day become one of them.
My research has led me to the conclusion that there are thirteen quirks required to be a writer. Today they will be shared for the first time.
1: You must be crazy about cats.
Cats are a necessity for platform-building. How are you supposed to make friends online if you can’t post cute pictures of your cat sitting on your keyboard stopping you from writing? Your first tweet of the day should always relate to how your cat released a live mouse in the bedroom at 3am. The writing community will quickly help you see that your cat thought you might be bored or hungry and was trying to help.
2: You must be addicted to tea and/or coffee.
I’m yet to determine if it matters which you’re addicted to, but my suspicion is that you should choose the one with the greater number of worshippers in case the two factions come to all-out war. A coffee addiction allows you to excuse the embarrassing typo in your tweet with the fact you haven’t had coffee yet, and will help you bond with others over the many delightful coffee memes in circulation.
3: You must be awkward and introverted in real life.
Writers by definition have trouble talking to 3-D people, and when you ask how they are they’re prone to blurt out odd things like, “I’m really worried–my hedgehog’s sick and my invisible friends aren’t talking to me.” Writers inevitably had bad acne and few friends as teenagers, but it didn’t matter because they preferred to be devouring books in the library than interacting with humans anyway.
4: You must dislike writing and moan incessantly about how hard it is.
You’d think writers would like writing, but you’d be wrong. One of the most common bonding points for writers, after cat memes, is the agony of getting words onto blank paper. Writing is a harder job than coal mining, defusing bombs, and building the Great Wall of China. That’s why there’s so much blood on writers’ keyboards. If writing were easy, writers would all be working on their WIPs and Twitter would become a graveyard.
5: But you must love having written.
As if that’s hard.
6: You must hate editing.
Oh, woe that writers have to revise the golden words that bubbled forth in waves of sparkling perfection. Editing is so mundane and dull compared with the glorious act of creation (which, as you recall, writers hate). Writers wail at how long it takes to hone each paragraph and wish more readers would accept those “mistakes” in their first drafts as the artistry they are.
7: You must hear the voices of your characters in your head.
Perhaps the writer conceived of them first, but they grew up fast, took up drinking and hanging out with shady folks, and now they do their own thing and don’t listen to a word their writer says. Their voices are so loud they drown out the birdsong, and their arguments go on so long that some days a writer spends hours staring into space as her characters rant. They know what they want to do and will raise hell if the writer tries to shoehorn them into her idea of a plot. But it’s all good–they probably have a better idea what the story is than their writer does anyway.
8: You must be starving, or at least poor.
Writers are poor, face it. If a writer is not suffering she’s not creating art. Think of all those fifteenth century writers slaving away with quills at their manuscripts and giving up eating so they could afford to keep the power on to run their laptops. Anyone in less hardship is a poor shadow of a writer. And, of course, what little money writers have must go towards coffee (see point 2).
9: You must be bursting with stories that demand to be told.
Writers physically need to write or they break out in hives, tear off their clothes and run screaming down the street, and get into arguments on Twitter with somebody called Bernard. If they stay away from the keyboard their intestines climb out their mouths and strangle them as they binge-watch Season 11 of Supernatural on Netflix. They’ve written stories on everything from cereal boxes to toilet paper to court summons since they were old enough to hold a pen and they can’t imagine life without writing (though don’t forget they hate it).
10: You must be a voracious reader.
Writers wish they could read all day every day. They regularly go to bed intending to read just one more chapter, and only get to sleep at 4am when they finish the book. Their TBR piles requires crampons and an ice axe to scale, and they drool at the idea of a bookshop or library. On the occasions when they crawl out of their books for coffee, their find their children covered in dust behind the sofa and their gardens inhabited by howler monkeys who mistook it for a jungle.
11: You must be the king or queen of procrastination.
Writing is one part writing and nine parts getting around to writing by tweeting, Facebook-ing, Insta-stuffing and other procrastination activities. A writer knows she should really write, but look how messy the kitchen is, better go clean it first. And, wow, how long has it been since she vacuumed? If she doesn’t do that right now the dirt on her carpet might invent space travel. And when she finally gets back to her computer–hey, did you see that new blog post?
12. You must secretly (or not so secretly) dream of quitting your day job to write full time.
Quitting the day job is the ultimate sign a writer has “made it”. It is the pinnacle to which every writer aspires. Dear Boss, I’m sorry the report I spent all weekend writing didn’t live up to your expectations, but I’m a writer and I don’t care about any of this soulless pen-pushing. I quit. Sincerely, a Full-Time Writer. A smart writer has a supportive and rich spouse before he takes this step.
13. You must have a strong preference between dead-tree books and ebooks.
It doesn’t matter which a writer prefers, but he must cling to his preference like a sloth clings to a tree, despite any counterarguments brought before him. One type of book is absolutely, inarguably superior to the other. I just don’t know which.
My undercover investigation has revealed that in order to be a writer, you need to cultivate all 13 of these quirks.
It might take 10,000 hours of work, but stick at it because that way lies fame and J.K. Rowling-glory. In other words, writerhood.
Alternatively, you could become a writer by writing.
Sadly, I only have about five of these quirks. How about you?
** This statistic is made up because my rhetoric required a statistic and I didn’t want to look one up.
By day, A.S. Akkalon works in an office where computers outnumber suits of armour more than two-to-one, and by night she puts dreams of medieval castles, swords, and dragons onto paper. She blogs bad advice, random silliness, and the occasional short story at www.asakkalon.com, and can often be found grubbing in the leaf litter under the Twitter trees (@AkkalonAS). She’s currently editing her high fantasy novel, “Rain on Dragon Scales”, which takes itself more seriously than her blog, but not too seriously. It also has dragons. If life has taught her anything, it’s that the cat is always right.
Thank you Alecia. Marvellous guest post and some interesting findings. I am ticking a good number of boxes!
Are you glad your undercover work is now complete?
Have a great day all!
A note about the photo: I found this photo on Photopin and when I first saw it I had a little moment. This photo is what being a writer is all about.
We may have our quirks and odd habits but at the end of the day we perform magic by bringing stories to life! #LoveBeingAWriter #LoveWriting