You Might be a Writer…with apologies to Jeff Foxworthy

Patricia Bradley Inspirational Fiction, Uncategorized, Writing 62 Comments

This post first appeared on the MBT Ponderers Blog February 4, 2011

I came to writing rather late in life–at the age of thirty-five. That’s when these people moved into my head and wouldn’t go away until I wrote their stories. And I remember wondering when I could call myself a writer.

Have you ever thought about how writers really know they’re writers? Here are a few of my thoughts on the matter.
You might be a writer…

• If you’re sitting in a family restaurant interviewing a police captain on how murderers get away with their crimes while the diners closest to you edge away…

• If you’re walking down the grocery aisle and people are staring at you and you realize you’ve been working out your latest plot line…out loud…

• If you pray for jury duty so you can research the role…

• If you take pottery lessons for the same reason…

• If this makes sense to you: “I got a request for a proposal from fill in the blank. They want three chapters and a synopsis, and you know how I hate to write a synopsis. And I’m not sure if I want to resolve the romantic conflict or save if for the next book…

• If you keep a notebook by your bed so you can write the brilliant conversations that come to you in the middle of the night…

• If you’ve ever gotten someone to tie your hands behind your back so you can see how long it takes to get loose…

• If you walked around the house blindfolded to see if your other senses really become heightened…

• If you put the time your Aunt Louise tried to shoot the sheriff in your book, disguised of course, and convince yourself that none of the family will read it anyway…

• If someone comes up to you and a writer friend in a restaurant and says, “I heard you talking and finally figured it out—you two must be writers. All that stuff you were talking about couldn’t happen for real. Not in this town…”

• If you get depressed because you can’t keep your character from making a really dumb mistake…

• If you spend more money on writing aids and retreats and conferences than you’ve received for your stories…

If you answer yes to any of these ifs then yes, you’re a writer.
Leave a comment telling me how you know you’re a writer…

Comments 62

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  3. Michelle Lim

    This is a great post, Pat! Started the day smiling. Here is my addition to the list:

    You might be a writer if…Book store clerks are scared of you because you keep coming in to ask questions like, “Do you have a book on how to become an assassin?”

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      P. T. Bradley

      I can imagine the look you got, Michelle. Much like the one I got when I went looking for a book on poisons.

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      P. T. Bradley

      Thank you for the tweet! I love you course. Anyone who wants to learn about social media, you need to sign up for Edie’s course on ACFW!

  4. Connie Almony

    Love this! Guess I’m a writer. My characters never listen to me! But don’t forget … if you find yourself calling elevator companies to ask them how to sabotage one. Just waiting for the sirens.

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  5. Renee

    Oh, yes. Been there many times. Except I usually get strange looks in the grocery store when I’m writing dialogue…both sides of the conversation…out loud.

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      P. T. Bradley

      It’s so much fun being a writer, isn’t, Renee. I’ve even stopped in the middle of the aisle to put a line of dialogue I overhear in the notepad on my IPhone.

  6. Delores Topliff

    I’ve actually done a few of these and am amazed by a few others (hands tied behind back? Wow!)
    Years ago in univ. I was climbing an empty staircase in Ontario, far from my west coast origins, when a bright local Canadian young woman I had just met entered the stairway at the top and found me laughing very hard out loud as I pondered plot lines. Thankfully she understood, was amused, and we’re still friends.

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      P. T. Bradley

      Oh, Dee, you haven’t lived until you tie your hands behind your back and try to get out. LOL Sometimes I find myself being my character in a grocery store, trying to figure out what she would buy. I mutter sometimes, too.

  7. Andrea Nell

    This is great humor and oh so true, Pat! I laughed when I saw your title because I’m right in the middle of writing a blogpost with the same title. Lol! You might be a writer if you edit your own thoughts, ‘was’smith your text messages, and occasionally catch yourself narratoring your daily tasks in third person. Or is that only me?

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        P. T. Bradley

        Ooh! I need to add something. That sounds so… weird. I get so attached to all my characters that I hate to end their story.

  8. Paula

    What a hoot! I can answer yes to a number of them. The scary thing is being a writer and spending so many hours with (imaginary) characters harks back to one of my favorite childhood activities. 🙂

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      P. T. Bradley

      When I was a kid, I’d read a book, then for days I’d go around pretending I was that character. I’d almost forgotten that. Thanks for the memory, Paula.

  9. Robin Patchen

    You can spend hours working on a scene, perfecting it, only to come back the next day and delete the whole thing. And cry because you’ve killed you’re darlings. Oh, you know you’re a writer when you know what it means to kill your darlings!

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  10. Carrie L. Lewis

    You might be a writer if….
    * Your characters tell YOU what they will and will not do
    * You’re having a conversation with your spouse and realize at the sound of dead silence that you’ve been asking questions about characters and situations in your current work in progress as though they were real people
    * Your spouse has gotten so accustomed to discussions about fictional people and situations that he or she can participate in them
    * Any unusual situation produces a ‘what if’ or ‘I wonder how that happened’ question that leads to a complex and tangled plot, usually involving a body or crime.

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      P. T. Bradley

      I know! I was watching the news one day and there was a report about this guy who’d had amnesia for 10 years and was just now contacting the authorities. My mind clicked in. Now why in the world would someone wait 10 years to report they didn’t know who the were? What if…they woke up in a strange room with a dead body…and a sack full of hundred dollar bills…maybe then they wouldn’t report it. lol

      And my characters never do what I want them to do. Thanks for stopping by, Carrie.

  11. Audra Silva

    You know you’re a writer when you can’t wait to reach the warming hut so you can write down all the ideas flooding your brain while snowmobiling.

    I can relate to many of those you listed. Fun post. 🙂

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      P. T. Bradley

      Don’t the best ideas always come when you can’t write them down! Glad you enjoyed it, Audra. Come back again!

  12. Jenny G.

    LOL! – I would definitely be edging away from you! If I didn’t know you 🙂 Why on earth did Aunt Louise want to shoot the town sheriff?! And I’m glad I don’t work in a bookstore because I would feel guilty selling people books on assassins and poison!

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  13. Cindy Elliott

    Great post, Pat. It’s reassuring to know I’m in good company! lol When I plan a vacation, it always has to have great “novel” potential. Thanks for sharing your post on the Course loop.

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      P. T. Bradley

      I love the characters in your head! And The Women of Valley View is such a neat blog! Thanks for stopping by, Sharon.

  14. Sharon Hoover

    Soooo fun! I loved reading your post and truly laughed out loud — especially about keeping a notebook beside my bed … in my purse, in my glovebox, in my desk at work, in my backpack that goes to my childrens’ games… 🙂

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      P. T. Bradley

      Sharon, have you gotten the pen that will write in the shower?..upside down. I’ve heard it really works.
      I’m so glad you stopped by.

  15. Patti Shene

    This was a great post, Pat! Now that I spend a lot of time editing, I feel like I’ve left some old friends (my characters in my unfinished novels) behind and I really, really miss them! I feel as riddled with guilt about neglecting them as I do about not keeping in touch with “real” old friends or relatives!

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    P. T. Bradley

    I know what you mean, Patti. I had to stop working on my 2nd book to polish my 1st one, and I feel like I’ve deserted Ben and Leigh. But next week I’ll get back in touch with them. Thanks for stopping by. I’ll be posting on a regular basis now…nothing long, just little short pieces.

  17. Beth K. Vogt

    … if you go out on a date with your husband and realize you spend more time talking about the problems your fictional characters are having than talking about your kids and your marriage.
    (Not that I’m saying my kids or my marriage are having problems … )
    ;o)

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      P. T. Bradley

      LOL, Beth! It’s great that you can bounce ideas off your husband! (And I know you’re not having problems)

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      P. T. Bradley

      Oh, Tiffany, you have to come on over to the dark side of writing. Don’t you want to do some of the crazy things we do? I’m so glad you stopped by.

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      P. T. Bradley

      I love the T-shirt idea. Actually my daughter sells T-shirts. lol Probably won’t name my computer…I have enough trouble with my characters! Thanks for stopping by, Cindy.

  18. Mandy E Ward

    ….spending more time/effort/money on my characters & getting self – published is true!
    Also making up ‘lives’ for people at airports when i’m waiting for planes amuses me.
    When I say ‘I’m a writer’ when people ask what I do & then say ‘Oh really’ & change the subject or oh, it’s really tough to get a book published’, fuels my determination & helps me enjoy the process even more!
    & finally, when I like my characters more than some people……that’s when i know I’m a writer…..

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      P. T. Bradley

      Mandy, when I was a kid we lived near the airport in Memphis and when a plane would come over I’d make up stories about the people on them. And don’t you just hate it when people expect you to write a book in a week and get it published the next? lol
      Thanks for stopping by. Enjoyed your comment.

  19. Wendy

    Mine tend to be a little different. I’ve been known to lean over the upstairs bannister and yell, “Honey? Did junior officers in the English Army have gold braid on the cuffs of their dress uniforms in the 18th century?”

    I was showing off one time when I was camping with my dad, and mentioned that before Cincinnati had that name, it was known as Losantiville, and I was irked when he know why it was called that. (It’s across from the mouth of the Licking River, so the L is for Licking; OS is Greek for mouth; ANTI is Latin for opposite; VILLE from the French word for town.)

    I’ve never had my hands tied behind my back, but I have learned to knit, spin, and weave so I’d know exactly how to describe the process.

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    P. T. Bradley

    Wendy, don’t you just hate it when someone already knows what you’re bursting to tell! lol You’ve learned to spin and weave and knit? Wow! I’m impressed. So glad you stopped by.

  21. LuAnne Parrish

    I completely disagree with you on this one, Pat. ANY fool can be a “writer” if they had Mrs. Sharp and Mrs. Dalton for English in high school, as I did, and can manage to string a coherent, salient, half way decent sentence together. Witness my name as “author” on the soon to be released “Corinth” for proof. What you SHOULD have titled this piece was “You Might Be A GOOD Writer”, which is what YOU and others on this site are, because you have put in the time, thought, and hard work learning and honing your craft. I would no more place myself in a category that included you than I would call myself a singer if I were magically plopped down in the middle of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir. I WILL admit to a recurring (delusional) fantasy, now that I’m a published “author” of joining the pantheon of Quiet Living Old Maid writers ~ the incomparable Jane Austen, Harper Lee, and Eudora Welty. In my recurring daydream, I see all three of them in a literary “Mount Rushmore” monument to their greatness with ME kind of stuck inconspicuously in the lower right hand corner…ah, well, a cat can look at a king, or in this case, three queens…can’t she?

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    P. T. Bradley

    Now I have to disagree with you! I’ve read some of your writing and almost fell out laughing. But I see the point about putting in time and effort. By the way, what do you call what you’ve been doing on Corinth? Can’t wait to get a copy!

    1. LuAnne Parrish

      Thanks for the kind words. As to what I’ve been doing on “Corinth”, to quote my idol, Aaron Sorkin, “Good writers borrow from other writers. Great writers steal from them outright.” I’m sorry to confess, I’m a GREAT thief! Margaret Greene Rogers, Hugh Horton, Robert U. Jones,, heck, I even stole from my OWN mama! I DID give ’em all credit, so technically I probably won’t end up in the pen, but I couldn’t have done it without ’em. God Bless ’em all!
      I only wish they were here to see it…THEY were the historians, the recorders of the past, the storytellers, and the story keepers that made it all possible.

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        P. T. Bradley

        LuAnne, just listen to your voice. It is so Southern and unique. You need to tell those stories locked up in your heart!

  23. Delores Liesner

    What fun. I really relate to that list – PLUS – my friends warn one another not to give any details they might not want to see in print! I was at a dinner party with a group of foreign language teachers including a guest I hadn’t met. She later told a friend I was fun to talk to and the friend said, “Actually, she’s a writer – you weren’t just talking – you’ve been interviewed!”

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    P. T. Bradley

    Delores, I love that story. And don’t we really interview everyone we meet! Always putting their words away to pull out sometimes. So glad you stopped by and shared that.

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