Writers are solitary creatures. Their usual habitat is called “BICHOK” (butt in chair, hands on keyboard), and their plumage is usually unkempt and looks suspiciously like pajamas. Occasionally, though, writers are known to actually bathe, put on real clothing, and congregate at a watering hole called “a bar.”
Three writers have just been spotted entering a bar. They get very large, very strong drinks and commandeer a table away from the crowd. They engage in small talk – polite discussion about children, the weather, and how cute someone’s shoes are – but conversation rapidly turns, as it always does, to the books they are currently writing.
Let’s listen, shall we?
“No, I suck.”
“Neither of you suck. I’m the sucky one.”
“Please, you’re a genius. I’m just a talentless hack.”
“What? You just got 4 ½ stars from RT. I’d say that is not a sucky book.”
“And you got 4. Waah.”
“Well, if I’m such a freakin’ genius, why is this book stalled out in chapter six?”
“At least you’re in chapter six. I’m on page forty. Again.”
“Be glad you have forty pages. I just trashed the first three chapters of my book.”
“Because I suck.”
“You do not suck. Remember when I had to gut the last third of my book? That was suckiness.”
“Oh, try starting over from scratch because it sucked so badly. My investment banker hero is now a rodeo clown.”
“Seriously? A rodeo clown?”
“It’s growing on me. I don’t know if it will work, but I don’t have anything else.”
Notice the complicated and delicate dance. Each attempt at deprecation is rebutted by flattery from the others. The writers take turns in each role. Amazing to witness, isn’t it?
“Does your hero at least like your heroine? Then you’re ahead of me.”
“Your heroes are always yummy. I wish I could write heroes like that.”
“Yeah, you do.”
“Not as good as yours, though.”
“Thanks, but y’all are crazy, you know that, right?”
“Well, my editor is going to cancel my contract when she sees this crap-on-a-page I’ve produced. My career is over.”
Oh, one writer has invoked the deity “Editor.” In the complex theological belief system of the writer species, “Editors” comprise the pantheon. Editors are feared, awed, and loved, and writers long to have a special connection with one, as is evidenced in their quest for “The Call.”
“Your career is not over.”
“Um, can we go back to the rodeo clown? I mean, really? A rodeo clown?”
“It’s a new trend.”
“If anyone can pull off a rodeo clown, it’s you.”
“Can I have your investment banker if you’re not using him?”
“Be my guest.”
“Ack, I’ll just stick with the hero I have. He’s lame, but he’s a good fit with my too-stupid-to-live heroine.”
“Tell me again why I chose this career?”
“Because you’re a great writer.”
“I’m an average writer. You’re the great writer.”
“Oh, please. I trashed four thousand words today because they sucked.”
“You don’t suck. I suck.”
“No, I’m the sucky one.”
“Let’s just drink some more.”
We shall leave our writers now, as research has proven this circular argument about sucking will go on endlessly for hours, only to later be supplanted by a spirited discussion of either sex or death that will draw frightened and appalled attention from the surrounding crowd, before returning to the subject of who sucks worse and whose career will die in flames first.
Renowned therapist Counselor Shelley has studied the writer extensively for several years. She calls this interesting behavior “discounting,” “awfulizing,” and “catastrophizing.” There is some debate as to whether or not those words actually exist, but that’s the terminology she uses. The mates of the writers – who are not writers, as writers chose their mates from a different species – call this “insanity.”
Other writers call this “normal,” but then interrupt to tell you how much they suck.
The sad thing is that I really didn’t have to make much of this up. Which is good, because I suck.