Warning Label: Side Effects of Writing
Thinking of becoming a writer? It's fantastic and fulfilling. It's introspective and inspiring. It's awesome. Writing can broaden your mind and free your spirit, but it also has...well...side-effects. If I were to create a warning label for writers, it would look like this:
Writing makes you fat. Unless you have a mega-metabolism, it's almost inevitable. All that sitting in front of a computer. Better buy bigger jeans right now, because one morning you won't be able to pour yourself into your regular ones. Know a skinny writer? Hmmm. My guess is she is going at it all too quickly. Her writing could be much better. Stay at that computer longer and rewrite, babe. And have some M & M's while you're at it.
Writing gives you insomnia. Think you can just slide into bed and drift off to dreamland when you are a writer? Think again. That moment between falling asleep and being asleep is when the best ideas come, and if you don't write them down, you lose them. Be prepared to get super comfy then think of something and force yourself up to jot thoughts down several times a night. There's a reason writers like coffee.
Writing makes you appear insane. Sitting in a Starbucks trying to get things right in that next scene? Does an explosion sound like Ka-Boom or Pa-Pow or Grumble-Rumble? You'll be saying it out loud, unconsciously making gestures to go with it in order to figure it out. Next you're pulling a face and watching your reflection in the shiny handle of a spoon to find the right expression for your character's feelings. A female writer may even go as far as stuffing a pork loin in her pants to see what it is for a man to sit with something between his legs. A male writer might try on lipstick or study dress sizes. It's normal if no one ever wants to be within five feet of you.
Writing gives you manic mood swings. You finish a story or novel or essay and send it off for publication. You feel on top of the freaking world. It's awesome. It's unique. It's the best piece of writing ever...and then you get the rejection form. You realize the piece was drivel. Tripe. Unbelievably unworthy. That is, until someone else reads it and likes it. Then you see it's pretty damn good. You write something else. It gets rejected. You hate yourself and think you have no talent. But you push on and rework it. Publish it. You get fan letters and feel on top of the world. This up and down emotional yo-yo is now your life.
Writing makes you mad. And confused. And stubborn. You know that piece-of-crap novel out there? The one that has the shallow characters, a thin plot and in which the writing is way closer to lousy than lyrical? Well, it's a bestseller. And the novel you worked on for years to make meaningful and beautiful is dying a slow death on virtual bookshelves. It's not right, you rant. It's not fair, you rave. Don't people know what good writing is anymore? Why are they buying such slop? You will be ticked off and resentful and confounded. But you will use these emotions to spur you on. You will continue to write, continue to submit, continue to publish. Because you know this is something you can do. You will do, dammit. You'll do it if you have to die trying.
And you just may.