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What Makes A Writer A Writer?
April 19, 2004 7:24 PM   Subscribe

So You Think You Might Be A Writer? Just because you write? An astute essay by Joseph Epstein poses the uncomfortable question: are you weird enough? There's something very unnatural and unhealthy about writing (as opposed to reading, for instance) - but what is it? [Via Arts and Letters Daily.]
posted by MiguelCardoso (51 comments total)

 
Where might I make a purchase?
posted by four panels at 7:35 PM on April 19, 2004


Bleah. I always feel like these essays on what it means to be a writer do little but heap neurosis and doubt onto a profession that should be enjoyable. Maybe that's the purpose: to scare away the competition. O, the mystical Writer's Life!
posted by inksyndicate at 7:46 PM on April 19, 2004


Yes. I'm weird. Real weird. And now I realize why my therapist has told me to do more work on my writing... I'm incurable!!!

Thanks for the unpleasant revelation, Miguel.

(That also explains the parents who tell their children "Stay away from that man, he looks like a writer...")
posted by wendell at 7:57 PM on April 19, 2004


My favorite advice on writing, by physicist, Noble laureate, inventor and all-around cool guy, Piet Hein:

Long-winded writers I abhor, and glib, prolific chatters;
give me the ones who tear and gaw their hair and pens to tatters:
who find their writing such a chore, they only write what matters.

posted by Civil_Disobedient at 8:02 PM on April 19, 2004


Incompetence, contempt, lunacy—once you have these in place, you are set to go.

My god, I've got all that in spades. Nobel Prize, ahoy!
posted by jonmc at 8:03 PM on April 19, 2004


"There's something very unnatural and unhealthy about writing (as opposed to reading, for instance)"

Huh?

Reading is certainly easier than writing, and more people do the former than the latter, but unless one immediately equates creativity with mental illness, there's nothing inherently unhealthy about it (and even if it is inherently unhealthy, it's not inherently unnatural -- mental illness is quite natural, for example, and one must must often take unnatural chemicals to allieviate its afflictions upon the mind).

Certainly weird people are a subset of the writing corps, but it doesn't follow that all writers must be weird, or substance abusers, or bipolar, any more than all guitarists must be any of the above, or sculptors, or actors or [insert creative field here]. One could argue that it's not the act of being creative that makes one weird, but rather that since society expects creative people to be a little bit nuts, it cuts them more slack when they do stupid things. As a working novelist, I can't wait to try out this particular "Get Out of Jail Free" card.

What makes a writer is simple: The act of writing. How the writing happens (via madness or exhibitionism or the desire to be paid) is to a great extent immaterial; writers are judged by their output, not their process. If you're entirely "normal" and yet write sparkling prose (which can happen), you're a writer. If you're nuts and you do the same, then you get to be a writer, too.
posted by jscalzi at 8:09 PM on April 19, 2004


I must admit that I have a great fear of meeting writers, particularly those whom I admire. This fear was nutured by close proximity to the Iowa Writers Workshop. I found that five minutes with some writers was enough to ruin their work for all eternity. The one great exception was Carolyn Forche, a really good poet and nice person.

If anyone is interested in reading more about the cult of the writer, I highly recommend Nabokov's "the Gift" and "Speak Memory." Maybe the cult of the writer is a just that, a cult, but I love reading about it.

Most of the really good writers I know are socially retarded, self absorbed and dull. But I really don't know what I would do without them.
posted by gesamtkunstwerk at 8:19 PM on April 19, 2004


I must admit I have a great fear of meeting John Scalzi, who is one of the few writers on-or-off-line whose criticism I could never fool myself into dismissing. But this weekend is the LATimes Book Festival at UCLA where I will have the opportunity to say directly to Ray Bradbury's face: "ARE YOU NUTS?!?"
posted by wendell at 8:49 PM on April 19, 2004


it doesn't follow that all writers must be weird, or substance abusers, or bipolar, any more than all guitarists must be any of the above, or sculptors, or actors or [insert creative field here].

Well, sure, but it helps. [/easy quip]

What makes a writer is simple: The act of writing.

Well, sure, redux. An interesting and more difficult question might be what makes a good writer, and if there is anything useful to be found in either a discussion of what we might mean by 'good' or an examination of any commonalities we might find by rifling through the mental sock drawers of those writers that we actually do deem to be good.

One thing that I remember from my late-teen worship of Henry Miller was how he talked about life and the living of it as the Main Thing, and how the writing about it was a mirror of life, outside of it, and so lesser than and subordinate to the living itself (even if in some senses greater by being closer to that ol' divine act of creation). It sounds a bit trite, I know, but it was one of the things that led me to spend most of my adult life (until my recent and welcome domesticity) out on the fringes, biting off life in big bloody chunks, only stopping occasionally to poke my head up above the scrum, peer around, wipe my chin, and maybe scribble a paragraph or two about it.

That and the fact that I seem to be constitutionally incapable of making shit up, so if I was going to have something to write about, it'd have to be stuff that I'd done and seen.

(Which may be putting the old cart before the horse, psychologically speaking. I'm still trying to figure that out.)

As the old Python skit goes 'you've got all the words now, you just have to get them in the right order'. Quoting which just goes to show that I know not a damn thing about it other than what works for me, but am willing to spout off at length nonetheless.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 9:14 PM on April 19, 2004


I could care less. Or more.

But it doesn't really matter.

Good health.
posted by troutfishing at 9:24 PM on April 19, 2004


As a naive, underdeveloped writer, I found this sentence to hold weight:

"When it comes to blocks, most serious writers will tell you that the chief cause of the malady is a loss of confidence in one’s ideas, or in the plan behind one’s work."

How simple, yet enlightening to me.
posted by Keyser Soze at 9:34 PM on April 19, 2004


From the linked article : "Incompetence, contempt, lunacy—once you have these in place, you are set to go."

Well, you're batting .666 there, trout!
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 9:35 PM on April 19, 2004


"Writing and travel broaden your ass if not your mind and I like to write standing up."

Ernest Hemingway
posted by _sirmissalot_ at 9:37 PM on April 19, 2004


In order of anticipation, things I've wanted to see on Metafilter for years that will never happen, because the second party is too even-tempered, propriety-bound, classy, whatever:

1) clavdivs and thomcatspike in a really nasty skull-fuck-your-verbs-and-sell-your-nouns-to-the-Yangban fight, and:

2) jscalzi and MiguelCardoso throwing down on the subject of how to live a proper writerly life.

I know, I know, it'll never happen. But this thread is so close!
posted by furiousthought at 9:40 PM on April 19, 2004


Hrm, far too much is made of some sort of mystical talent to writing.

I think the main characteristic that is shared among most great writers is hard work. "Writers block" bah, just an excuse for slack. Writers put in 30-80 hours a week at their craft. They work even if everything they do ends up burned in the fireplace or shredded in the trash at the end of the day. They work even if they could make more money using that time to collect cans on the street. They work not just on the fun stuff of putting ideas on paper, but on the horribly gut-wrenching, mind-numbing, and booring as crap job of transforming the complete shit of a first draft into a diamond. They work in spite of bad sales, bad reviews and bad conditions. But most importantly, they work. When they are not working doing writing, they are working reading to find out how others do it.

I'm currently reading my way through Twyla Tharp's latest book after hearing an interview with her. She claims that her creativity is not a divine gift, but the result of hard work.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 9:57 PM on April 19, 2004


The first time I met Jack Vance, someone asked him what he owed his success in writing to. In his word: toil. Writing is real, hard work. You don't have to be nuts to do it. You just have to write. A lot.
posted by interrobang at 10:18 PM on April 19, 2004


I've got the royalty checks. Fuck yes, I'm a writer. And I'm way weirder than Mr. Epstein.
posted by Ezrael at 10:36 PM on April 19, 2004


Miguel: "There's something very unnatural and unhealthy about writing"

I think this does apply to some writing-- generally that which involves situations or people in your personal life. In that case I think it can be unhealthy to expose those people to what you've said if you've just aired a bunch of brutal honesties about them. It's a boundaries issue, to use self-help speak.

But I do think that the arts coddle pathology. There is a big market for all kinds of angst-ridden expression, and a much smaller one for stories from people who dealt with strife maturely and responsibly, and then moved on. mho. Or maybe those stories never get told because, having moved on, those people don't feel inclined to relive the past.
posted by halonine at 10:37 PM on April 19, 2004


But I do think that the arts coddle pathology. There is a big market for all kinds of angst-ridden expression, and a much smaller one for stories from people who dealt with strife maturely and responsibly, and then moved on. mho. Or maybe those stories never get told because, having moved on, those people don't feel inclined to relive the past.

It's because these so-called humans--nay, I say robots they be--who "move on" from these incidents with responsibility and maturity are in fact rather boring; they're the sorts that settle down and move forward, while the life of a writer is one of reflection, introspection, and obsession.

Also, there's the fact that they're rather condescending, claiming that this boring movement from point A to point B is maturity rather than the tragedy of metaphysical blindness.

In your face, suckah!
posted by The God Complex at 10:42 PM on April 19, 2004 [1 favorite]


What makes a writer is simple: The act of writing. Interesting. As I know we wouldn't say that "What makes a doctor is simple: The act of practicing medicine." (Which can be done without a license, and we call those individuals "the defendant".) Is the sole requirement for being a writer literacy?
posted by Nyx at 10:43 PM on April 19, 2004


I should also mention that the people you mention have cornered the market on the "_____ for Dummies" and self-help market, so they're doing ok.

My favorite advice on writing, by physicist, Noble laureate, inventor and all-around cool guy, Piet Hein:

Long-winded writers I abhor, and glib, prolific chatters;
give me the ones who tear and gaw their hair and pens to tatters:
who find their writing such a chore, they only write what matters.


I have a fondness for all forms of writing, whether it's marked by long-winded parenthetical prose (as the writings of a Nabokov or a Miller are) or short, blunt observations (as Hemmingway's writings are).

It sounds a bit trite, I know, but it was one of the things that led me to spend most of my adult life (until my recent and welcome domesticity) out on the fringes, biting off life in big bloody chunks, only stopping occasionally to poke my head up above the scrum, peer around, wipe my chin, and maybe scribble a paragraph or two about it.

I don't think it is. I can't say I necessarily agree with Miller's premise--although I'm big Miller fan--but I wouldn't call it trite.
posted by The God Complex at 10:46 PM on April 19, 2004


What makes a writer is simple: The act of writing. Interesting. As I know we wouldn't say that "What makes a doctor is simple: The act of practicing medicine." (Which can be done without a license, and we call those individuals "the defendant".) Is the sole requirement for being a writer literacy?

Finally, allow me to say this might make you a writer, but it won't make you an author (or a good writer).
posted by The God Complex at 10:47 PM on April 19, 2004


"I'm not a writer. A writer is someone who has to write. The only reason I write is because it's the only way I can justify all the other things I didn't do."

Theodore Sturgeon
posted by _sirmissalot_ at 11:19 PM on April 19, 2004


Funny, I was just contemplating this, after tonight writing a diary entry (self-link, oh dearie me!) wherein I name my creative drive after a character from a computer game nobody played.
posted by kevspace at 11:50 PM on April 19, 2004


(which, I forgot to add before posting, I decided is at least stupid, if not actually crazy.)
posted by kevspace at 11:51 PM on April 19, 2004


What makes a writer is simple: The act of writing. Interesting. As I know we wouldn't say that "What makes a doctor is simple: The act of practicing medicine." (Which can be done without a license, and we call those individuals "the defendant".) Is the sole requirement for being a writer literacy?

Well, it is pretty easy to define what a doctor is, since you have to have certain qualifications to be one. Try to define with more verbiage what it actually means to be a writer, and you run into difficulties. Personally, I think that Writer: (n.) one who writes is a pretty good definition; anyway, as precise as anything else I can think of.
posted by Hildago at 11:54 PM on April 19, 2004


Another advantage of saying that anybody who writes is a writer is that it demystifies and depretentiousifies an needlessly mystical and pretentious status, which I'm all for.
posted by Hildago at 11:56 PM on April 19, 2004


Another advantage of saying that anybody who writes is a writer is that it demystifies and depretentiousifies an needlessly mystical and pretentious status, which I'm all for.

Paging The Author Function. The Author Function to thread 32586, please.

Heh.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 11:59 PM on April 19, 2004


Stavros, I am not going to read any more Foucault for the rest of my life, so I'm not sure what your link says.

If this were a real life conversation, what I would do in this situation is just sort of nod my head and laugh, like, "heh... yeah."
posted by Hildago at 12:20 AM on April 20, 2004


"Well, you're batting .666 there, trout!" - Ah, a writer speaks!
posted by troutfishing at 8:56 AM on April 20, 2004


I thought the key to being a writer was alcohol, or at least drugs?

All this sauce for nothing?
posted by spazzm at 9:11 AM on April 20, 2004


wendell: been wanting to do that for years. thank you.
posted by casarkos at 9:17 AM on April 20, 2004


I think if someone either a) makes the majority of his or her income through writing or b) spends the majority of his or her time writing--no, change that to actually producing or working on complete, written works, can identify him or heself as a writer.

As far as self-identifying as a writer because you write, well, I agree this is technically correct but everybody I have ever met who claimed to be a writer based solely on the act of writing (and with no paychecks, publications, or carpal tunnel to show for it) was a putz.
posted by jennyb at 9:20 AM on April 20, 2004


So jennyb, what's a complete, written work? A novel? A blog entry? A haiku? And by the majority of their time, do you mean 12 hours a day, 7 days a week? Or 8 hours a day, 5 days a week? Hemingway wrote for, I think, 3-4 hours a day. Georges Simenon wrote novels incredibly quickly, then took long breaks. Part time writers? Seasonal? (no benefits)

As for majority of income, that rules out a lot of very important writers. Kafka, as the poster says, toiled in obscurity and died penniless.

I insist that you can't define it like that. You can define a professional writer, you can define a successful novelist, but you can't actually define a "writer" without excluding a lot of people who obviously are writers.

It's like trying to define a swimmer. What's a swimmer? I say it's someone who is swimming right now. What's a writer? Someone who is writing right now. I'm a writer right now, but once I press 'Post', I won't be.
posted by Hildago at 9:46 AM on April 20, 2004


Rather than a writer being someone who writes, a writer is someone who feels guilty when they are not writing.
posted by strangeleftydoublethink at 12:22 PM on April 20, 2004


Strangeleftydoublethink says:

"Rather than a writer being someone who writes, a writer is someone who feels guilty when they are not writing."

Nah. I don't feel guilty when I don't write (although I often feel bored).
posted by jscalzi at 12:34 PM on April 20, 2004


Is Harper Lee a writer?

If you go by some of the definitions above, she isn't.
posted by Prospero at 12:35 PM on April 20, 2004


Okay, Hildago, how about a writer is either a) as above or this newly ammended b): someone who spends a majority of his or her time producing complete written works.

So then Hemingway and Georges Simenon are writers because they made books happen. Same with Kafka. Either a) or b), not both. I didn't mean to imply that both criteria had to be met.

By a purely literal definition, you're right, of course. But it would be just as ridiculous, once I'm out of the pool, to self-identify as a swimmer as it would for you, once you hit post to self-identify as a writer. The debate, for me, isn't about defining ourselves by a purely functional term that is only applicable in the moment, but by the way we define ourselves in general to others.

If someone called me right now and asked me to describe what I did in one word, I could say I'm a writer (because I'm posting and because I'm actually writing something), I could say I'm a web-browser, a MetaFilter reader, a chair-sitter, a water drinker, or a phone answerer, because I'm doing some form of all of those things right now. But I'd say "paralegal", because that's a more accurate description of what I do.

If all I do is self-publish a weblog or write in a journal, and I'm not getting paid and I'm not getting third-party publishing, I'm not a writer by definition. I write, but when somebody asks me what I do, if I say "I'm a writer", I'm being incredibly misleading. Or pretentious. Or, as mentioned above, a putz.

I mean, if you do paint-by-numbers as a nice, relaxing and fulfilling hobby, are you going to tell people you're a painter when they ask what you do?
posted by jennyb at 12:45 PM on April 20, 2004


The utter mendacity!

SKEET man, try skeet
posted by clavdivs at 1:26 PM on April 20, 2004


I see your point jennyb, but you can ask yourself "what is a lover"? The answer may not necessarily be "someone who is engaged in the act at this moment", but it also most likely wouldn't be confined to "someone who gets paid for it."

When asked why he wrote the "The Name of the Rose", Umberto Eco said "I felt like poisoning a monk." For me, that's a pretty good oblique summary of what a writer is - someone possessed by an idea, with the ability to convey not just the idea but the haunting insistency of the idea.
posted by taz at 1:28 PM on April 20, 2004


Why does the definition of being a writer have to be one thing? It can be many definitions, depending on how and what you write, can't it? For example, those who write instruction manuals would be writers, correct? After all, they spend the majority of their days writing, they get paid . . . Somebody such as Pynchon could be better described as being a researcher, considering the vast amount of research that must be conducted in order for him to write any one of his novels, yet writer he is. Even if there is only one other person, and that is the writer themselves, who reads their material, I would define a writer as being somebody who has written something that others feel compelled to read, or enjoy reading. I would also define a writer as somebody who is compelled to tell a story, and no matter whether that story is actually read by others or not. It's a slippery slope, tho, ain't it?

And just to quibble for a moment, wouldn't a doctor be somebody who heals other people? Therefore anybody who heals can be a doctor, with or without the paper that says they are allowed to practice.

I think what we are talking about here are not definitions of things, but rather the role and status of a given occupation. When someone says, "I'm a doctor," we very quickly change our opinion of them, as we also do when somebody says "I'm a writer" or "I'm an artist" or "I'm a garbageman" or "I'm a policeman". Because it's much harder to define roles and status, the definitions can be much more fluid, don't you think?

I think anybody can write, and even do it well, just as anybody can be a doctor, artist, garbageman, etc. and do it well, with the proper amount of training. What is often lacking is motivation, or as writers and artists often mention, a Muse. Are we all weird enough to have a Muse? I think the answer is a resounding "Yes!", but that the form the Muse takes leads us to other things than what we may wish for, or gets lost in the labyrinthine paths of day to day banality.
posted by ashbury at 1:33 PM on April 20, 2004


jennyb, your point seems to revolve around the fact that someone asking, "So, what do you do?" has the social connotation of "How do you make a living?"

All I do is self-publish online, from which I make no income, but I am both a photographer and a writer nonetheless.

If I work at a bank and am an avid bird watcher, when someone asks, "What do you do?" I would say, "I am a banker." As you point out, it would be misleading for respond with, "I am a bird watcher."

But in a host of other contexts, it is nevertheless completely valid for me to declare that I am a bird watcher. You can't say that a writer must be one engaged in the writing profession anymore than someone who is a bird watcher has to do it for a living.

As for the article in question, I will have to give it a closer reading when I have more time on my hands, but I take issue with any insinuation that an entirely well-adjusted everyday sort of person can not "be a writer." Very much what jscalzi said.
posted by rafter at 1:45 PM on April 20, 2004


I see your point jennyb, but you can ask yourself "what is a lover"? The answer may not necessarily be "someone who is engaged in the act at this moment", but it also most likely wouldn't be confined to "someone who gets paid for it."

Is "lover" a common answer to the question of what someone does? It's more a secondary identifier, ie "He's my lover", or a contextual response. (IE "Who are you to say she can't come back to my house?" "Why, I'm her lover!" as opposed to, "Why, I'm a paralegal!")

ashbury, I'm trying to work fluidity into the defintion by allowing for either time spent and production of materials or getting paid for it. (People seem to keep missing that little "or" for some reason.) I like the idea of a writer being some one who produces something compelling enough to create an audience, however.

But in your last paragraph, you say, "I think anybody can write, and even do it well, just as anybody can be a doctor, artist, garbageman, etc. and do it well, with the proper amount of training." I would suggest that to write well, once must also have the proper amount of training. Sure, there are naturals at any calling, but just because anybody can write by Hildago's definition, doesn't mean that anybody can create something compelling enough to read.

On preivew, rafter... damn, I've got to run but I'll try to respond later.
posted by jennyb at 1:58 PM on April 20, 2004


Yes, I deliberately used "lover" because to truly be a lover one's heart must fully engaged; something like this is also true of good writers. Renumeration is not the signifier.

You're right, though - according to the social conventions we abide by, only people who actually get paid to write can call themselves "writers' without seeming ridiculous. This doesn't mean that somebody making loads of dough writing PR copy is more of writer than the garbageman who produces a brilliant novel in his spare time. I would argue the opposite, in fact.

If the garbageman were to later win a Nobel for literature, the copywriter would feel silly calling himself a "writer" in the same sense that the garbageman is a writer. But if the work remains the same, what is the difference between the before and the after? Only the acclaim. The words are the same, and the garbageman is a writer.
posted by taz at 2:45 PM on April 20, 2004


As a young would-be writer, I harbored no elevated notions of bringing truth or beauty into the world. Instead I wanted, ardently, to bring me into the world: to call me to its attention. My desire to write, which began when I was twenty, was never separable from wanting to write for print. In my own little behaviorist Skinner box, I pecked at the lever that, I hoped, would deliver small but delicious pellets of praise.

This is where I lost interest in anything this guy had to say.

For me, that's a pretty good oblique summary of what a writer is - someone possessed by an idea, with the ability to convey not just the idea but the haunting insistency of the idea.

Well said, taz.
posted by rushmc at 3:06 PM on April 20, 2004


rushmc-
Is that any better or worse than a writer who starts out for a check? Does how you begin matter, or just why you continue?
posted by stoneegg21 at 4:19 PM on April 20, 2004


Instead I wanted, ardently, to bring me into the world: to call me to its attention.

I'm not sure what's wrong with this confession. It's self-centered, yes, but such is the artistic impulse, especially at age 20. As a matter of fact, any writer or artist-type who claims this was never true for them is either lying, or lying. Okay, maybe religiously motivated, I'll grant that. But still I don't think you can separate fervor from egocentricity that easily.
posted by furiousthought at 5:39 PM on April 20, 2004


Is that any better or worse than a writer who starts out for a check? Does how you begin matter, or just why you continue?

Yes, it is better. As syrupy as it sounds, something that comes from feeling you have to do it is better than something done because it feels neat and makes people pay attention to you. Something about the latter always seems a little cheap. Kind of like this essay.

Fortunately, we need lots of writing where cheapness is irrelevant; most writing falls into this category. Those who do this kind of writing are probably happy enough with it. They like to put words together and they get paid for it.

And then there's literature. It takes heart in addition to talent, ego, skill, and luck. Most people don't collect all those cards and don't make it. But when they do, it is better.
posted by dame at 6:56 PM on April 20, 2004


ashbury: No, someone who heals is a healer. 'Doctor' refers to a specific profession engaged in by people who spend a lot of time and money training specifically for that profession; often healers and doctors can have very different training.

Best definition of writer I saw was When asked why he wrote the "The Name of the Rose", Umberto Eco said "I felt like poisoning a monk." That effectively differentiates between those who write grocery lists and those who write.
posted by Nyx at 8:45 PM on April 20, 2004


ashbury, I'm trying to work fluidity into the defintion by allowing for either time spent and production of materials or getting paid for it. (People seem to keep missing that little "or" for some reason.) I like the idea of a writer being some one who produces something compelling enough to create an audience, however.

Jennyb, I guess my point can be stated generally like this:

For any definition you can come up with, there is someone whom we would recognize as a writer, whose life story acts as a counter-example for your definition. You could repair the damage by adding another disjunction, but I think the process would just repeat until your definition included almost everybody, which is, I think, the opposite of what you're trying to do -- you're trying to be precise!

Counter-example to above definition (which is already pretty unwieldy, admit it): Someone who works a day-job that gives him all his income. He writes two books in his life time. He never publishes them, but when he dies, his grand-children find them in the attic and they get published. They are immediately recognized as two of the ten greatest novels of the century. Was this man a writer?

I think yes. Would you say no? This is somewhat similar to the writing career of John K. Toole, but it doesn't have to be, so long as it's a hypothetical that you can imagine happening.
posted by Hildago at 9:55 PM on April 20, 2004


Rafter, I'm with you on that. I don't make any money either. At this point any and all of my self-publishing is my donation to society. In my situation, I don't *have* to make a living. :-) Someday I most likely will though, and I am starting to prepare for that eventuality. I have taken it seriously for quite a few years now, but it's tough to make that leap into thinking of it as an occupation (especially without a mentor of some kind). Add to that several other competing creative efforts and things can get very confusing. My only answer to this has been to take writing into everything that I do. Yes a blog (several actually), accompanied by various poetries and essays.

Am I wierd? Maybe - most would say more ordinary than wierd I think... The only wierdness given my age and station is a tendency to not be out in the world. Not that I *can't*, because sometimes I am. It's just that there is so much to be involved in at home I find it hard to find the time to be out much, and though I trust most people I meet there's an inherent fear of the world at large. Most of what I do at home is creative effort of some kind, even when not writing. The thing I have to fight the hardest is the tendency to get pissed off when I feel I'm fighting some kind of label or misapprehension of who I am. Then I kind of "go off track" and have to get the pissed-offness out of my system before I can get back into the real work. I admit sometimes Me-fi is a lot of the source of that going off track, being as I often feel I buck the trend of many of the readers and responders here. Sometimes I tell myself I won't read here anymore -- but then I end up back here because it's a cool source and because it is part of my trying to keep an open mind.

I think maybe programmers who write freeware suffer from some of the same image problems as unpaid writers. There[s a lot of people who'd like to do away with them as well.
posted by Timebot at 10:05 AM on April 22, 2004


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