Put your hand up if you’ve ever faked something.
In my four years of writing school, I have learned that being a writer goes way beyond the actual physical and mental act of writing. Being a writer is about persona, and embodying that persona is mandatory for survival in the fine arts.
The first ingredient in the writer’s persona is alcohol. Bourbon, Scotch, gin, vodka, rum (dark or white) — pick your poison. Think I’m joking? Think back to every great writer you know — F. Scott Fitzgerald, Edgar Allan Poe, Faulkner, Capote and my personal favourite, Dorothy Parker — and think of what they have in common (aside from a spot in the literary canon). They’re all alcoholics.
A further idiosyncrasy of our multifaceted cornucopia of personalities entails using a plethora of substantially sizable, obscure words in unusual contexts so as to perplex any multitude of persons we might chance upon, and in turn manufacture a hyperbolized impression of our acumen and intelligence.
Did that work?
Thirdly, we writers love to boast about our individual writing processes, which I have found to be more or less the same and likely an exaggerated version of the truth. For every 10 minutes I spend actually putting pen to paper (or finger to keyboard), I spend 60 minutes moping, crumpling papers and purposely missing the garbage can for dramatic effect, or staring at a blank Word document with a cigarette that desperately needs to be ashed dangling from my lips — and I don’t even smoke. Also, it’s important to note the hours that the writing process takes place in. We’re night owls. We do our best work after midnight, and anything written before midnight can be deemed garbage and added to the crumpled-paper pile.
Props are another imperative element to the writer’s persona. If you’re not carrying at least one piece of canonical literature around with you at all times — forget it. Switch majors immediately. Choose something like biology, where you may not be judged as harshly for reading Twilight.
Every writer knows to carry a pen and journal with them everywhere they go, preferably one of those hipster Moleskine journals that look good in our Herschel backpacks. And if you catch us writing in them, we probably haven’t had some great epiphany. We’re probably just writing cheesy poetry and doodling hearts around the names of future soulmates.
Whether or not you have a prescription for glasses, it is essential to own a pair. Look like a writer. Feel like a writer. Be a writer. I keep a pair of tortoise-shell Pradas in my book bag at all times, and I have 20/20 vision.
The last and arguably most important dimension to the writer’s persona is drama. If you ever have the chance to date a writer, tread very carefully. One wrong move and we’ll go all Carrie Bradshaw on you. One false step and you’ll become the next antagonist in our stories.
Nothing is simple inside the persona of a writer. A bedroom is not merely a bedroom; it is a Tranquility Rejuvenation Suite. A library, not merely a library, but a Literature Consumption Silo. The point is, we are a very melodramatic bunch. We’re not just writers for fun — we were born to write. If we don’t write, someone may die. If we don’t write, aliens might strike. If we don’t write, wine and spirits sales may plummet. We take our personas very seriously. We have molded ourselves to fit into this writer’s world. We may come off as highfalutin and egotistical — but hey, put your hand up if you’ve ever faked something.