Writer Stereotypes

Writer StereotypesWe all know at least a few, and we could all probably tick off at least a box or two on the list. Many professions have them, but writing seems to be dipped, rolled, and packaged in them at times.

Writer stereotypes vary from pleasant to neutral to negative, and often people forget that, although we are indeed writers, we are still individuals. Undoubtedly, many started from popular culture; movies, books, and so on. Others were probably conceived by writers themselves, or families of writers who picked up on certain habits.

Some of the ones that I hear, and usually have to deflect, include:

Writers have cats. Now, this one I can’t personally deny as I do have one cat. But, I also have two dogs. We’re only supposed to have cats I think.

We’re addicted to coffee/tea. I do like a nice cup of tea in the mornings, but I do not need it to survive. In fact, if I miss out on it I don’t even notice. I don’t have a kettle set up next to my desk on a constant boil.

We have day jobs. When people hear “writer”, they usually think it means that we write books or that we are journalists. They forget about all of the other writing that sits in between, making them assume that we just write for fun and not for a living.

We all want to be famous. Sure, some of us do. But some of us don’t. We all have different reasons for writing, and different goals that we choose. Most of us write because it’s what we’re good at, and we’re just following wherever that path takes us.

We only write when inspiration hits. Hah. No. We write when we have to to pay the bills, to work out an issue with a story, or just because it’s comforting. Waves of inspiration are great, but those movies with writing montages are quite far from realistic.

We can write anything. Technically I suppose we can, but that doesn’t mean we’ll do it well. Some of us are really good at fiction, but not so comfortable with non-fiction. Some of us love dialogue and some of us struggle with it. Someone who can write a fantasy story might be terrible at a marketing brochure.

Writing doesn’t require an education. Sure, many many writers start from an early age. That’s true. But most who become successful still took at least a few courses in writing or editing or English at some point. Just have the desire to write doesn’t mean that you can do it well without honing your skills.

We’re broody. Yes, we all just sit around solemnly thinking to ourselves in dark rooms full of antique furniture. With our cats on our laps and ink staining our fingers. Give me a break. We’re humans. We can be broody, but no more than anyone else.

We’re mysterious. I can’t put my finger on this one, really. Are we mysterious because people don’t understand how we make a living, or are we mysterious because we are doing something that most of the world does, but better?

Aside from that, we all wear berets, we smoke a lot of cigarettes, we forget to eat, and we are devastatingly romantic. Right, guys?!

Which ones are actually true to you, and which bother you the most? Do you have any to add to the list?

I’ll be on Facebook until next time. Unless I’m too busy after I’ve downed this bottle of whiskey, two packs of smokes, and refilled my ink pot. (Kidding, just kidding).

The Ten Commandments (Book Lovers’ Edition)

Ten_Commandments_MonumentIf you are like me, you really love books. They are your getaway, they are your passion, they are your hobby. It’s not a casual relationship, it’s a lifelong dedication to literature and everything that it includes. I was thinking about how books influence my life, and I came up with some general rules that apply to my reading habits. So, here are the ten commandments for book lovers:

1-Thou shalt not start with any book in a series other than the first.

2-Thou shalt not dog-ear pages, crack spines, or cause damage to jackets.

3-When a character you love dies, thou shalt feel the wound in your deepest of hearts. (Especially if you are reading Harry Potter, His Dark Materials, Games of Thrones, etc.)

4-Thou shalt defend thine favourite authors with vigour, even if they write a book after the one that you loved that isn’t quite as good.

5-Thou shalt not, under any circumstance, prefer the movie to the book.

6-Thou shalt have more book covered surfaces in thine residence than not.

7-Thou shalt justify money spent on books by claiming that “books are never a waste of money, at least I’m not buying shoes”.

8-Thou shalt do thine utmost to ensure that if you have a series, they are all the same type and have matching artwork.

9-Thou shalt feel a pain in thine soul when deciding if you should let someone borrow one of your books.

10-Thou shalt refuse to remove pages from books to start a fire, even if you are in the middle of a zombie apocalypse.

Does anyone else feel the same, or is it just me? Of course, since I wrote these, they are made up of my own feelings. Are there any that you would add or change?

Sidenote: My new website has recently been completed, if you’d like to see you can go here: www.wordsmithery.ca. I’ve also, as you have probably noticed, made some changes to the appearance and address of my blog (it was mywordsmithery previously). And lastly, I have also made some changes to my FB page, which you can find here if interested.

Seize and Assist

I don't think I agree with this one, but it's an interesting thought.

I don’t think I agree with this one, but it’s an interesting thought.

Before I decided to go back to school, I worked at a call centre. I spent my days trying to keep my sanity, and attempting to assist angry people. Sometimes, you would have a good call and a customer would praise you, most days you had bad calls.

To add some humour to the monotony, I used to keep a folder of “funny things”. This included everything from comics to notes on hilarious letters from clients. On the bad days, I would take a moment and look through the folder while on a break to relax and it would always leave me laughing. I looked through it almost every day.

I have talked about how reading a word does not mean you know how to say it before, but this time I would like to talk about how hearing things does not mean that you can spell them. We are all guilty, but even while I was facing a life of constant irritation and mediocrity, I still found joy in words.

One of my favourites was a note left on an account that said “Please place seize and assist on account”. This was meant to stop calls to the customer. Obviously, they meant “cease and desist”, but I am assuming that they had only ever heard the term and had never actually seen it. Whenever I think about it, I imagine actually seizing the customer and providing aggressive assistance.

A friend recently shared with me that while at work, a co-worker exclaimed that something was the “vein” of their existence. The correct term would be the “bane” of their existence, as you probably know. I believe that the vein of existence has a very different meaning.

Another was a complaint letter about the product which said, “I find this product to be substantial!” Of course, this is not exactly the same thing, however, it is possible that this customer had always misheard the “in” part of “insubstantial”. I suppose they also could have meant substandard. It wasn’t a typo, either, it was a handwritten note. I really wanted to send a letter back saying that I was glad that they found the product to be so notable.

I am also guilty, for during my first and only venture into the world of a writers forum, I was trying to think of the word “warrant”, as in “a post like this warrants a response”. I accidentally used “warden”, and as a result, I left the world of online writing forums never to return. Not because I was so embarrassed that I couldn’t show my virtual face again, but because it was so harshly and quickly pointed out and torn apart that I felt unwelcome. But, that is a post for another day.

Just as when we see a word in writing and it comes out incorrectly when we say it, we also have the ability to hear something and write it down incorrectly. The English language is a strange beast and I don’t think that any of us can claim that we have never made a mistake. I find it amusing when I see things written incorrectly, but more in the sense that seeing it in a new spelling makes me think of the term differently. It shows me that there is a subtle yet considerable difference between the spoken and written word. It makes me aware that I cannot claim to be omnipotent in regards to the English language (or anything else, really).

Still, I enjoy these findings in the same way that I love to say words over and over again until they lose meaning and I can no longer remember how to say them properly.

Do you have anything to admit to? Do you have any that you specifically enjoyed in your own experiences? I’d love to hear them, I still have days where I could use a laugh!