Monday, August 24, 2009

You know you're a writer, when ...

photo courtesy alexkerhead

Something happened the other day that made me think about writing and how integral it is to our lives.

You know you're a writer:

When you recall your childhood and adolescent by the books you were reading and the authors you discovered.

When life altering events happen and you catch yourself thinking, I must remember how this feels so I can capture it for my book.

When you read and can't switch off your internal editor unless it is a really good book.

When you go back and re-read that really good book to work out why you couldn't switch off your internal editor.

When you catch yourself rewriting the endings of books and movies.

When you toss a book aside because you think you can do better.

When you keep writing, even though the industry is crazy and perfectly good books get rejected.

When your children leave a note for you, not on the kitchen table but on your keyboard, because they know your life revolves around your computer and your latest manuscript.

That last one is what made me think how integral writing is to my life and how this affects my family. When my 6 children were younger and still at school, things would happen and the events would turn up later in one of my children's books with the names changed to protect the innocent and not so innocent. Now, when the kids tell me things, they say 'And you can use that in one of your books.'

When did you know you were a writer?


graywave said...

Lol - and blushing too. Too near the knuckle, some of this.

It must be in the air to wonder about this at the moment. I just blogged it myself, after reading an interesting post on Tony Noland's blog on the same topic.

Rowena Cory Daniells said...

WOW, Graywave, you're right it must be in the air. I went and had a look at both your post and Tony Noland's.

You know, it is possible to win awards and still not be a best seller, or making squllions from your writing.

I think you're a writer, if you view the world through writer's eyes and then try and write about it.

When did you know you were a writer?

Anonymous said...

"Mom? Are you burning dinner? Again?"

Just needed to get it down before it wandered off. It was just a single paragraph...


C Kelsey said...

Last Sunday. Standing in "The Witch Museum" in Salem, MA. They had this dramatic presentation of the witch trials. I kept thinking I could totally do an atmosphere like that in a horror story. Then I compounded it by messaging Amanda about it to see if she agreed. :)

Anonymous said...

I still am not convinced I'm a writer. I should write more than I do, and I still find reasons not to sit down and write because the other things are more "immediate." I guess I would call myself a semi-writer.

On the positive side however, I constantly watch people looking for good ideas on characterization. I can't enjoy something without trying to "catch the moment" so that I can re-feel it later when I AM at the keyboard doing my writing and not my job. I try to capture my really good dreams as story ideas. If you catch my blogs, I regularly post photo art that I find mind-sparking. Today's is a winter fairy. I don't get much brain downtime as I'm always using cartime, bedtime, and other "times" to figure out my many in-progress short stories. And every single one of these "times" reminds me that I should be doing more actual writing. I plan to graduate myself from semi-writer to writer when more of the actual writing happens.


Rowena Cory Daniells said...

LOL, Matapam.

I let the potatoes boil dry. I've done it so many times. Then I have to pick them off the bottom of the pan, and chip off the burnt bits before I can mash them. Sigh.

My poor kids.

Rowena Cory Daniells said...

C Kelsey, absolutely!

I was watching the morning news program here in Brisbane and a gay guy came on to give all the Hollywood gossip.

I realised I was analysing what role he filled in society and how this would evolve.

Rowena Cory Daniells said...

Linda, I'm a visual person too.

I did a post a while back, Are you visual or are you aural. I think there are more writers who listen to music. But I collect images as I build a world.

And yes, I capture the moment. I can remember doing it in primary school at about 8 years of age. And, naturally, I assumed that everyone did it.

Kate said...

... you catch yourself making note of all the sensations involved with that broken bone so you can use it in your current work in progress

... you think in narrative

... you sit in Star Wars: Episode 2 thinking "Don't have him find his mom so she can't die in his arms, that's so cliche."

... you read books and wonder what they did for whom in order to get published because you know people who write much better than that (and you try to be objective about whether you write much better than that).

... you don't take books to the loo, you take pen and paper, or laptop, or in severe cases scribble notes on the toilet paper

... you find yourself mentally fixing the flaws of a book you just read

... you tell people you're not to be disturbed unless someone is on fire, dying or both so you can write that hot romantic scene

... you tell people you're a writer and your day job is X

... your nearest and dearest occasionally need to abduct you and drag you kicking and screaming from the computer so you can take a break

... you pick up your character's quirks after too much time writing them.

C Kelsey said...

LOL Kate. That last one... I have a certain raven (Amanda knows what I'm talking about) that will decide every now and then that it needs to dictate my actions.

Rowena Cory Daniells said...

LOL, Kate.

That last one, picking up your character's quirks if you spend to much time writing them, could be dangerous!

Rowena Cory Daniells said...

Kelsey, just read your post. Great minds think alike!

Chris McMahon said...

I do love experiencing different 'atmospheres', mainly because I'd like to use these for stories. Sometimes I find myself rating experiences on how much they inspire a story idea.

Hey, Kate. Wouldn't it have been cool if Anakin's mum became a Sith lord? Maybe she could cut off *his* hand at a family reunion:)

Satima Flavell said...

For a long time I wasn't sure whether I was an actor or a writer. (When I was four, I bullied my family into taking part in a dramatisation of Oliver Twist's meeting with Fagan.) But at the same time, I lived a double life, in which I was not me, but a girl named Jill who had more adventures than anyone else in the world. The yarns I spun in my daydreams came out in pictures that I drew, because I was too young to write.

As I grew older, acting, dancing and singing claimed me, and I only went back to writing fiction when I was in my forties. I wrote and published quite a lot of non-fiction, but my story-making went into choreography. There's more than one way to spin a yarn!

Amanda Green said...

When did I know I was a writer? Well, when I got tired of Sarah hitting me up side the head and telling me to stop denying it. I still wonder at times. But then I'll see something, hear something or even smell something and it will trigger that creative spark and I'll find myself reaching for something to jot the idea down.

Then, like Kate and some of the others, I'll read a book and wonder how in the world it ever got published. Of course, I also didn't want Lucas to fall back on that tried and tired cliche of Anakin finding his mother just so she could die in his arms.

Chris, I like your idea of her living and becoming a Sith lord. Of course, I'd have liked it better if she'd been one all along. Maybe then Anakin wouldn't have been the whiny wimp he turned out to be in the last two movies.

Sarah A. Hoyt said...

First of all, I DIDN'T have to tell Amanda she was a writer. What happened is that I assigned her a beginning of a story, and she sent me five pages, and I could immediately tell this woman had at least ten novels under her belt. It also bore a disturbing relationship to my writing. I.e., it could be written by the same person. I told her it stands to reason if I can be a professional writer, so can she. DUH.

Others you must be a writer if:

You pay the babysitter and drag your significant other out so you can spend three hours talking plot and brainstorming.

You shake your husband awake in the middle of the night and scream in his ear "I have it, it was the sword. The sword broke" and instead of killing you he smiles sleepilly and says "there you go" (Though that might indicate your husband is a saint, mind you. Or a fellow writer. Or both.)

You purposely set aside an afternoon of ironing when you have proposals coming up.

You have told yourself stories before going to sleep for as long as you can remember.

Writing was your third choice of profession -- after angel and cat -- so you know that this is as good as it gets.

Rowena Cory Daniells said...

Chris and Kate, with regard to Star Wars 2.

If the Jedi are the good guys, why didn't they buy Anakin's mother out of slavery and take her with them? Or at a least make sure she was safe?

Rowena Cory Daniells said...


You're so right. There is more than one way to spin a yarn and convey emotion.

My daughter is a singer and she can reach right into your heart and move you.

Rowena Cory Daniells said...


Yes, I've always told myself stories before I go to sleep. The problem is that if they are good I can't sleep!

And, like you, I'm lucky. My husband is a long suffering saint.

Kate said...


The Jedi aren't good - they only got that reputation because they seem nicer than the Sith. There was nothing stopping Qui-gon and Obi-Wan coming back asap with hard currency to buy out Anakin's mother.

Well, nothing except Yoda insisting that loving one's mother was a weakness. Personally I think he and Palpatine were secretly in league together the whole time.

And I'm another one who tells myself stories to go to sleep to. Usually I wake up with a different story. Sometimes it's even one that can be massaged into something good enough to write.

Anonymous said...

"When you toss a book aside because you think you can do better."

Rowena, I think that this also perfectly describes the moment in which a writer starts writing in the first place. That moment when you toss the book aside because you think you can do better... then sit down and try to *prove* it ;-)

C Kelsey said...


Just saw your response to my last post. That was weird but very funny. :)

glenda larke said...

Oh, I really relate to that telling myself stories to go to sleep! I did that for years! From when I was 8 or so. Ok, let's be honest, I still do...

Glenda Larke said...

Oh, and I think you are right about the topic being in the air. Before reading this I had just written a blog post for sfnovelists to be posted tomorrow, on when you can think of yourself as a successful writer...