>And now for something completely different

>You can blame Sarah for this: her post this week got me thinking, and that’s always a dangerous thing. It goes to strange places.

The progression is something like this – creative types tend to have something of a disconnect between head and body, and not notice the kind of discomfort that would send others screaming for the good painkillers that make you all loopy. That’s what Sarah talked about.

So I thought, well yeah, I’m a pretty good example of this. I’ve done some pretty dumb stuff because of this. But then, I’ve done some pretty dumb stuff for other reasons, most of them related to being a writer and being off in writer-headspace when I shouldn’t have been.

By the time I’d stopped thinking (you sort of have to focus when you’re following recipes, or the results can be… interesting in all the wrong ways) I’d gotten to this:

Creative types, particularly writers, tend to have issues when it comes to dealing with the real world (for those who wish to argue over which world is real or claim they all are, when I use the term, I mean the world where your physical body resides). It’s more than just forgetting little things like paying bills and so forth – a lot of us have issues with society in general. Which, for people who spend so much of their time being keen observers of humanity is kind of weird, but then, writer and weird go together. The vast majority of the writers I’ve met are just functional enough to avoid the delights of the mental health ward.

Yes, we Mad Geniuses are a bit saner than that, but it’s a matter of degree.

Okay, that’s the long rambling introduction. Now for the meat – the Kate guide to living in the real world when the rest of you wants to be elsewhere, otherwise known as playing the game.

  • Everyone else is not stupid. It is very important to remember this. Everyone believes at some level that everyone else is like them and thinks like them, but writers think at strange, possibly abolished angles to the rest of the world.
  • There are rules. You can’t break them with impunity, but you can use them to your advantage. This is usually called ‘politics’ (in the office politics sense). Do not attempt to ignore the rules.
  • People recognize “not like me”. It’s instinctive. Learn to play chameleon and hide the writer-weird. Excuse slips as brain farts.
  • No matter how brilliant you are – and many of you are legitimately brilliant (no, I am not naming names: the blushes would light up the whole world) – the vast majority of people out there don’t give a damn. With few exceptions we’re not even little fish in the ocean. We’re plankton. Maybe. Unless we bother the wrong person, and then we’re dinner.
  • Whether you like it or not (most of the time I find it something of a relief) creativity, especially the writer-flavor, isn’t compatible with things like business or political success. Those of us who are drawn to positions of power/responsibility tend to get there because we’re sick to death of it being done wrong all the time, and we just want to fix the mess then let someone else keep it all running.
  • There are times when you need to be 100% in the real world. Learn to recognize these or they’ll remind you. Emphatically. Usually in the form of grevious bodily harm or death.
  • Learn the difference between putty and vaseline. Otherwise your windows will fall out.
  • Never, ever play nude leapfrog with a unicorn.

And on that note, I leave it to you to come up with more advice, suggestions or whatever. I’m going to try to cook a turkey and do other Thanksgiving-type stuff.


  1. >Try to follow conversations. Zoning off in the middle because something sparked a thought, or someone said something one of your characters just _needs_ to say . . . really ticks people off.It might be worth getting one of those bluetooth thingies, just so people stop realizing that you really are talking to yourself.

  2. >And just because you're IMing someone does not automatically mean you're in safe writer-space and can exchange *you* in the conversation with one of your characters just to see how well developed he or she may be. Don't do that. People IM at you funny.

  3. >Zoning out — right in the middle of meetings — is still a challenge. My mind just want to fly off.I almost came unstuck in the middle of presentation to a group of senior management types — including the CEO — when my mind skated off in the middle of a difficult point. Now that was a little embarrassing — and required some hasty footwork.Thankfully what seems like two minutes lost in my head is actually more like one second.

  4. >Matapam,Oh yeah! Especially when another one of your characters decides to make snarky comments about it. It can be really difficult trying to explain that you're laughing at something someone who exists in your head told you.

  5. >Chris,Only by prior consent and flagging who said what. Not that I've ever done this. And I've never 'hosted' entire writer-space conversations between one of my characters and one of the characters of the person I'm IMing. Really.

  6. >Kate,Does it make me weird that I occassionally wonder what it would be like to host a conversation between a character of mine and a character of another author on IM? I think it would funny as heck! And both authors would learn a lot about their characters too.

  7. >Rowena,That's the other side of writer-space, the side the usually follows realizing that no, other people don't think the same way you do. The "oh no, I'm a total nutcase and they'd lock me in a mental ward if I tell anyone" thing. Discovering that yes, other people have these issues and get lost in their worlds helps quite a bit.

  8. >Chris M.Oh yeah, that's a sticky situation! Fortunately time in writer-space runs a little differently. Meetings are probably the worst, especially if you're not actively involved in the meeting.Writer-space doesn't understand little things like "not now I'm at the day job"

  9. >Chris K,Not by writer standards it doesn't. And yes, it is quite… entertaining. Not that I'd ever do anything like that, of course. I'm sweet and pure and innocent and far too tired to be allowed near a keyboard.

  10. >Kate,Smiling or laughing at the wrong time. Ouch! BTDT.But my neighbors' dilemma was so perfect for a bit of comedic relief. I mean, no one would believe . . .

  11. >Matapam,Absolutely! Right now I'm finding the news – political and publishing – so irritating because if you tried to put that in fiction, no-one would BELIEVE you! How DARE reality be more bizarre than fiction is allowed to be!Okay. Weird-overload beginning. Time to sign off and go play tourist with visiting relatives.

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