Skip to main content

The Golden Rule for writers?

I'd like to say that I don't feel sorry for myself -- that I never raise my arms to the sky and whimper "Why me?"

But I do feel sorry for myself on a rather regular basis, and it triggered a thought on my way home from work today that I am a character in a book -- that all writers are characters in other writers' books, and our stories are determined by the way we treat our characters.

When I ask "why me," I have to consider: Am I a benevolent writer, or am I a cruel and twisted writer? The answer -- considering the joy it brings me to snap photos of my children crying -- is that I am the writer equivalent to (choose your evil dictator). 

I would certainly take away my protagonist's livelihood within hours of her giving birth naturally to an 8-pound baby who never sleeps. But I would be meaner than the putz who's writing my story -- I'd make the baby weigh 12 or 15 pounds, and I'd give her long, sharp fingernails.

I'm a vengeful sort of person, but I'm also a chicken shit. Instead of risking my life and freedom smashing people's knee caps with a tire iron, I model characters after my targets. I change their back stories, names and physical attributes; and strap them in my Fleet Street barber chair

Imagine a woman in her 40s -- we'll name her Edith Vogle. Her shoulder-length hair is mostly gray. She's chewed her nails down to nothing exposing her red, swollen fingertips crusted with super glue. It's a quarter after noon. Fourth-period French is just getting started, but Edith left school early today.

Apricot, Edith's 20-year-old niece, needs a hero. She called Edith from the hospital, because her boyfriend, Randy, lost both sets of toes in a poker game the night before, while the couple's children -- ages 1 and 3 -- were home alone with a peanut-butter sandwich and a medium-sized glass of water.

Apricot is leaving with the children, but she needs Edith to fetch Randy. "He's only able to crawl right now. Can you please stay with him for a couple of hours, and make him something to eat?"

Am I a GOOD witch, or am I a BAD witch?

I have a couple of options as a writer. I can make Edith the forgiving, Christian sort, OR I can make her a vigilante with a sense a humor. Suppose she carries a bottle of prescription strength laxatives in her purse, and suppose she smashes up a handful of pills and sprinkles the powder on Randy's dinner so the poor bastard craps himself crawling to the bathroom.


So the next time I'm feeling sorry for myself wondering why MY life is so difficult compared to everyone else's; I'll have an answer. I'm living the life that malevolent writers deserve.


Popular posts from this blog

The insecure writer's support group

The ground is important -- for several reasons.

Among them

Gravity makes no sense without it -- there's no mandate that science be logical so long as our scientists are the smartest smartypants on the planet, in which case "because I said so" is an acceptable explanation. The ground is important, because it's something to build on -- a starting point, a foundation.

I respect the ground, because it has on occasion fallen out from under me, and it's rather unsettling to watch your life in free-fall mode -- to see your accomplishments disintegrate in an instant or a decade in some cases. It all depends on how fast you're falling.

Most of us drop in slow motion. We'll catch a ledge or an up draft every once in a while and think "this is it!" But then we go on falling. Or do we? Is the "bottom" just a figment of our imaginations? Can we lay new ground wherever we choose?

Ask Alice

None of my friends growing up were impressed with Disney's…

Writers get laid

Writers get laid -- or they would if they tried -- because people -- especially women -- are impressed by the phrase, "I'm a writer." It's romantic.

Introducing yourself as a writer insinuates substance and depth of character; people like that. They don't know why, except that one-dimensional characters on T.V. sitcoms and big-screen romantic comedies prattle on and on about the whole package -- a good looking, funny, intelligent single with rock-solid values and money.

People admire the skill and dedication it takes to be a novelist or a journalist or a screen writer  -- "I always wanted to be a writer," they tell you with stars in their eyes.

Whether they know it's a myth or not they imagine us in rich, thrilling lives with sports cars and beach houses and Louboutin shoes like Carrie Bradshaw. So the woman at the grocery store doesn't feel bad when she puts back the US Weekly she read cover to cover before she checks out.

Or downloading unauth…

The mirror

Ashlyn discovered the funny mirror at the park today. I could tell you all a long, silly story about our adventure -- the chasing after crows, the falling (me not Ashlyn), the rc plane crash, the dog poop and the climb to the tippy-top-top of the play structure -- but the pictures in this case are funnier.