Hug Often, Handle With Care

“A little talent is a good thing to have if you want to be a writer. But the only real requirement is the ability to remember every scar.”  ~ Stephen King

I should have been born with a label that read something closely akin to, ‘Will grow up to become a writer, won’t play well with others, will eventually drink too much, will need far too much verbal reassurance, and will never be normal.’ Ideally, I should (as an adult) come with care instructions based on that label: Hug often, handle with care.

Unfortunately, I wasn’t and don’t.

Writers aren’t normal. We don’t think like normal people think. We don’t process information the same way. Hell, we don’t even heal, eat, shit or screw the same way as everyday folk. We over analyze everything. We have a recorder constantly running in our minds that picks up EVPs, inner-monologues of the dog(s)/cat(s), that thing you wish we’d forget about, and everything any of us will ever say drunk. Whether serious or hilarious, our wit is unutterably inconvenient to the general public (just ask the woman who was behind me at Target the other day). We don’t give anyone a break, because, we don’t give ourselves a break either. Have you ever heard someone talk about how being your own boss is the toughest job you can have? Well, they’re sort of right. Being an author means that we’re our own boss, and worst critic to boot … and yup, definitely not the perfect situation for most of us. What we need is a better, less snide, version of ourselves who just hangs around and gives us positive reenforcement (or cookies) on a regular basis.

Sad news is, this is reality and reality doesn’t work that way. This particular universe brings us lost socks, cold sores, bad days, frizzy hair and wedgies. And we have the audacity to ask for lenience? *insert evil laughter for effect*

This all brings me back around to the Stephen King quote. These, ahem, differences … make us more prone to inspect our souls a little more often than sane people. We pick at scabs and everyone wonders what the hell for, and those same people will never truly understand how impossible it would be for us to be any way other than the way we were born. We don’t revel in the sensitivity or the strangeness any more than my lab revels in being obnoxious (OK, he does kind of love being an asshole). While we worship the act of creating, the drive itself can be a double-edged sword. There are times when it defends us, times when it serves as protection against the world, and times when it flat-out wounds.

So, where is the handbook on how to live with and love a writer? That’s easy … I haven’t written it yet. But this blog in general, being the massive collection of essays that it is, will essentially fit the bill. I studied psychology for years, and now I’m fully immersed in becoming a licensed Massage Therapist—needless to say, my focus is on holistic wellness and this extends to my theories on the creative individual and how we get along in life. I almost feel like it’s my duty to educate those unfortunate (or disgustingly lucky, depending on the creative) folks who have the pleasure of being with us on a daily basis. Because, let’s face it, unless you are married to another creative … it can get interesting at times (especially trying to explain why you’re up at 2am talking to the peanut butter).

Obviously, these are generalizations and each individual author will have his or her own set of quirks, but as a whole writers are: moody, sensitive, passionate, dangerously verbal, needy at times, eccentric, broody (only slightly correlated to the moodiness), visual, either snarky or ridiculously serious, neurotic (don’t deny it), capricious, arrogant (don’t deny that one either), and the best kind of people on the planet. After all, who doesn’t want a writer at their dinner party? Wait … what? Writers aren’t social creatures? Who knew …

That’s my last point. We’re also fiercely loyal. Kind of like a brat pack at the insane asylum. We’re all in this together. So, if there is any question on how to handle one of us, just look for the tag on the back of the straight jacket. It’ll read: Hug often, handle with care.

11 responses

  1. Really good one. I know I always say that :p But this whole one is me, except the drinking. Also will you, or one of my other friends that read this, promise to slap me upside the head if I don’t work very hard next week? Thank you in advance.

    • This is my first Lent, I converted from a pusedo-evangelical protestant background. This Lent is going well. I accidentally ate meat on a Friday but for the most part I have kept Lenten resolutions: to give up coffee and energy drinks and to read & pray at least 30 minutes a day. There were times when this did not occur but the days I have kept to it have greatly increased my love for the church, the Mass and the body of believers. I have a renewed vigor in my reading and prayer life and I have just recently started attending morning Mass when possible. (for those that haven’t read it, Jesus and the Jewish Roots of the Eucharist was a beautiful read. It’s illumination of Christ’s New Testament fulfillment of Old Testament foreshadowings has profoundly affected my understanding and appreciation of the Eucharist.

  2. Oh my gosh, I love this post. Love, love, love, and I hope you’ll forgive me if I write a post inspired by your words here. I’ve been on such a roller coaster lately, especially this last week, and I think being a writer, paired with my hyper sensitive personality, I truly am not the most normal person ever. Far, far, far from it.

    I miss you, my friend. You touch my soul in ways no one else can.

  3. pj, thank you. Now I have a sore throat and esvinion spending the weekend in bed! But yes, it is part of God’s plan. I get frustrated at church when I hear about mortification from our priests. One tells me to rinse your mouth out with salt water or drink tea for mortification (he hates tea and I love it). I think, well, I have pain that would have you blubbering and sucking your thumb, how’s that for mortification, buddy. And after that I get really uncharitable!I am a convert and all this redemptive suffering thing is very new to me. I wish I had a priest or somebody with a lot of experience to talk to sometimes. I have found that the elderly folks are the best, having been through it all already.I hope I will meet you by the river under the tree that is for the healing of the nations. We will chew the leaves and go, hmmmm, tastes like stevia

    • I’m a convert to Orthodoxy an d feel a bit the same way about the priests and confession.
      But when it comes to writing… Oh, all this pain makes for some really good stuff. I get to weave it all into my character’s lives and also what I’ve learned and how healing works. Can’t always say I’m grateful for the pain, but I’m so grateful to be a writer. Here’s a hug to whoever needs it.

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