The Very Writery Writer Writes The Written Words On Writing

Britney Spears wanders into a Beverly Hills party.

She mistakes Hugh Hefner for her grand pappy from back home and quickly sits on his lap to reminisce about that time he fought in the Second World Civil War of The Roses.

Never one to turn a warm lap dog bunny away, Hefner mistakes Britney for a Playmate or a wannabe Playmate or a former Playmate and gets to petting her golden blonde weave.

Later, as Ms. Spears recounts with horror the bizarre run in with her overly affectionate grand pappy over hash browns (smothered & covered), a Waffle House patron mistakes her for a waitress.

Somewhere in Tennessee a Waffle House waitress shrugs her burly shoulders and wipes a greasy spatula across her apron. I stare over my coffee cup, sure that if not for her official name badge I  would have taken her for a female truck driver.

She tells a sleepy traveler of the time she darn near caused a pile up on Highway 112, cocking her neck all willy-nilly to catch a glimpse of a young trucking mister. He sported glasses, a distinguished pipe, a turtleneck, and less of a beard than she sprouts on Tuesday afternoon. He looked like one of them fancy poets or something. She laughs, flops bacon onto egg onto toast. Never would’ve taken him for a trucker.

All of this is to say that I don’t belong in Starbucks.

So hip we call a small a Tall.

Perhaps a little clarification is in order.

 A new blog reader recently sent me a terribly flattering message, something along the lines of “I don’t know what you do for a living, but I hope it’s writing”.  My response, naturally, was to blush and denounce myself. I believe my answer boiled down to my being a professional idiot. You know, something eloquent like that. What I felt at the moment of message’s impact was a tinge of panic and maybe shame. I’m no writer, after all, just a girl with a kid, a blog, and a hankering for poop jokes.  His complimentary words pointed out the very absurdity of me. What does it mean to be a person who writes but is not a writer? What makes a writer? What is a writer, and where can I get one?

    The streaming inner interrogation muddled and spilled over until all I could think about was how to transform myself into a very writery kind of writer writing written words on writing written words as a very writery kind of writer often writes. Yes, the effect was much like a seizure wrapped in a panic attack smothered and covered in epiphany. I haven’t labeled myself a writer in the past because I hardly fit the image.

I love joy and happiness. I am clearly not a writer.

In olden days we picture a tormented soul holed up in a dusty, dank room. Curtains drawn, the vintage writery writer hunches over desktop, furiously breaking the neck off a quill pen as mysterious metaphors bleed onto paper. A hand-rolled cigarette twists smoke into the air, masking the writery writer’s pensive glare, a smoldering look which threatens- with just one glance- to burst words into flames.

Today, well, things aren’t so dusty, but the angst remains. The modern writery writer lurches above the corner bistro table in a hip coffee shop. An iPod feeds slow, whiny lyrics into the writer’s head, the head is abuzz with genius ways to link seemingly distant things, the fingers furiously peck a literary piece, a comparison of an ex-girlfriend to a bear ripping its human lunch from limb to limb, the lips bite through a fluid ounce of death-black espresso, the eyes shoot sorrowful laser beams at the barista behind the counter. It is a smoldering look of old,  because No Smoking signs are akin to communism, the writery writer thinks, interrupting the writer’s ability to properly huff and puff and blow the world away with written words on writing.

   Obviously, I needed to head to Starbucks if I had any hope of becoming a legitimate writer. I studied myself in the mirror before heading to the land of Mourn & Mocha. I raked hair in front of my face, sure that my typical look was far too tidy. I dug an old, black sweater from the closet. Two sizes two big, it hung by my knees. Slouchy and perfectly sad, I decided. I rehearsed my lines should anyone ask where I got such a garment. I’d speak of the light knit’s heavy symbolism: “Funeral wear, if you will, as I mourn the loss of classical grammar”.  I stared at my bare face. My default expression is a smile, a dopey, silly thing that makes strangers wonder if I’m drunk in market or church. They see my lazy grin and assume that my Happy Hour came early, yes, but I’d bet you a beer they’d never mistake me for a writer. I purposefully did not spritz myself with Clinique Happy perfume, and reached instead for a pair of plastic glasses, remnant of a Where’s Waldo? costume gone horribly right. I headed out the door, trying desperately to think only the saddest, most woebegone thoughts.

   I sat alone at a large table. I pouted and sipped a Mocha Venti Tall Frappu Double Shot Latte thing, trying against nature to master that tormented intelligent look. I figured it was expression which caused people to stare. Either that or my oblivious and offensive choice to hog a giant seat meant for handicapped patrons. Unable to erase the trademark crooked smile, I figured I’d just throw a few other gestures on top of it. One squinting eye, two flared nostrils, and half a quivering chin later, I felt sufficiently writery. Now for the “writing written words” part.

   I hugged my laptop like a bear with a Facebook page and got to work. Think Brilliance! Think Great American Classic! Think… the elderly gentlemen talking about Jersey Shore two tables over? I would have taken them for the chess-playing-in-the-park type.  Think Human Suffering! Think Big Words! Think… the homely girl steaming milk behind the counter. I would have taken her for the sews-quilts-for-kittens type. Mother of Pearl! It’s loud in here. Maybe the noise makes all the writery writers so pissy? Think Writing! Think Writery Writing! Think…. I spotted a writery writer looking girl a few chairs away. She looked the part: grumpy face, backpack stuffed full of grief and struggle and such,  smart glasses, fingers thumping keys like a drumroll of creative genius. I would have taken her for a writery writer. I stared at her, wondered which rehearsed line I should use to most impress her. My dinky southern accent wouldn’t cut it. I needed to pull out the big guns for this one. I would use The Madonna, a hint of fake British flare. I would ask her how her coffee tasted and answer “Like Capitalist Greed” before she got a chance to speak. She wouldn’t smile (because she’s a writery writer, duh) but would nod and invite me to sit and discuss written words on writing. Pretty soon her writery writing talent in the field of writing would rub off on me, and I’d be sophisticating the masses at a thinking man’s coffee shop near you.

Sad writer hearts sad endings.

    Four Mocha Jumbo Java CappuFrappuccinos later, I took a deep breath, tried to will the smile off my face and the jitter off my fingers, and approached the writery writing girl writer on my way to the potty. Shit. Writery writers don’t say potty.  I asked one of the elderly men sitting nearby to keep an eye on my laptop because ” Um, I’m pretty much, uh, a writer who, uh, writes things, soooo”. I saw the doubt in his wrinkly, old eyes. That makes two of us, senior sir.  As I neared her, I could smell her frown and actually see whole books circulating in the whites of her eyes. “God, I bet she’s writing the next To Kill A Mockingbird. It probably has some clever title like To Later Revive Said Mockingbird. I need to be her. I’d like to really need glasses and really hate my parents and really live a tumultuous life that begs to be turned into a depressing biography special on CNN. I’d love to….” my thoughts of admiration came to a halt when the writery writer girl of extraordinary writing written words ability answered a pink, sparkly phone. Unusual, I hoped it was a feminist statement or something else I wasn’t smart enough to understand. And then the heartbreak, the learning that someone is never what they seem. “El- Oh- El- zzz,” she giggled. She GIGGLED. She SMILED and GIGGLED. She SPELLED OUT TEXT-SPEAK! By the time she twirled a polished fingernail around a strand of hair, I was in the restroom, contemplating the disappointment.

    I peed, confused by it all: If I can’t even spot a writery writer how will I ever be one? Can’t I just be a writer as I am (small words, smaller jokes and all)? Most importantly, do they put crack in that coffee, and does crack make my pee smell like bean sprouts? I returned to my big, sorry handicapped table and wrote a post about Britney Spears sitting on Hugh Hefner’s lap. I pushed that godawful hair from my eyes and tucked the plastic Where’s Waldo? frames in my bag. As he left, the older mister made a point to stop at my seat.

via dippity.com

 “Young people, all looking at porn with the public’s Internet. Humph,” he judged down at me, a not-so-writery-writer-just-wanting-to-write-about-forgetting-today. For once, I perfected the kicked-puppy stare and looked to him desperate and miserable as I’ve heard many a writery writer do. For once, I meant it. His scolding look softened to a smile, a friend of his elbowing and laughing until I realized I was just the punchline of a joke. My old smile came back, an appreciative gesture for an old man and his humiliating hilarity.

At home I wrestled with my son, jotted down some notes for a controversial post on how to best body slam a toddler, and took a moment to laugh and be especially un-writery. Contrary to popular belief, that gray fart was cooler than he looked. That makes two of us, old man. That makes two of us. In a world where I would’ve taken him for a senile flump,  where Britney Spears can be a pop diva in trashy sheep’s clothing, where even I wouldn’t take my sweatpants-wearing, happy- dancing, smiling,  skipping self for a writer,where you’d judge a book by its cover, the world would be wrong. There is something pretty lovely about being more than we seem.

...are super much deceiving.

Do you judge a book by its cover?

Do you judge a writer by her messy hair writing environment glasses angst latte thin lips sweater?

54 thoughts on “The Very Writery Writer Writes The Written Words On Writing

  1. So, how does this work for those of us (me, for example) who pretend to writery writers but don’t write real writery words? Does that make me a real writer–sort of? Maybe? Please, I beg of you?

    1. Oh, Kathy. You are the real, writery deal for sure. I mean this in terms of talent, of course, and not the stereotypical pouty expression. I think it’s important to ask, though: How do you feel about turtlenecks and thick-rimmed glasses? :)

  2. First, I have to say what was that?!? The beginning “story” ??
    Dude!!! Expand on that please!! It sounded so Quentin Tarantino -ish.
    That was awesome! I can’t even begin to explain. I read your blog then I read the whole top pop several times.
    I promise I am not missing the point of your blog … But damn …. I am shutting up now.

    1. Haha! That was my “Why the hell do all you people look like something you’re not” bit. I still can’t understand how Hefner came to symbolize sex. It’s just so.. ewww… wrong.

  3. I have a hard time labeling myself as a “writer”, too, but Mother of Pearl, Tori– you are a capital-W “WRITER” if I’ve ever seen/read one. If you are not a real writer, what hope do the rest of us minions have? :)

    Loved this post. I’m often judging books (and people) by their covers and then getting walloped into humiliating submission by the universe because of it. Been there, done that.

    1. I’m the judgiest judger I know! Tom has to remind me to think quietly because I’ll accidentally think aloud “What the hell? That guy is with that girl? What the hell? That chunky monkey can run 4 miles? What the he—” I’m just baffled when people don’t act or do or turn out like they seem!

  4. Tori, Tori, Tori. You are the writiest blogger I know. Sometimes I just want to channel your ability to be so wordy when I’m polishing off another 150 word post that is as writerish as reading the alphabet. xx

    1. This was all just an optical illusion. You’re getting sleepy. You’re getting… No. You totally have a point. I think that it the neatest thing I’ve seen in the blogging community. Just about every blog I read is written well. That being said, each blogger is completely different- from lifestyle to location to age to beliefs. It’s a nice reminder that there is no perfect model of a Writery Writer these days. Plenty of room for everybody!

  5. Great post. And you are a writer! Hello, you blog missy and you do it well. Don’t beat yourself down. I don’t think I could write in a coffee shop besides I’ll never be a writerly writer as I hate coffee!

    1. Vix, I really didn’t think my plan through so well. Turns out I can’t really write with all the noise (unless it’s my very own shrieking toddler), and paying $8 for coffee made my soul hurt! I’ll definitely stick to typing at home :)

  6. This might be one of my favorite posts from you. Not that they aren’t all fantastic, but this sums up something I’ve been dealing with for awhile. I want to be a writer, I really do. But when is it ok to call yourself that? At what point is it ok to tell people that is what you are? And when will people start referring to you as such? Is it about completed work? Is it about published credits? Who knows…but it’s a question people have been asking themselves long before I ever picked up a feather pen.

  7. “backpack stuffed full of grief and struggle”. Just brilliant. What you need to take with you next time is a copy of anything by Rod McKuen or Kahlil Gibran, wear a fitted black turtleneck, and rock the wedding beehive and red lips; the picture of a very writery writer will be complete and there will be no mistaking you!

    1. I worry that beehive might be a traffic violation. Something like ‘obstructing vision’. I’ll get Tom to drive me to the coffee shop… I might have to ride in the trunk… but I think your plan could work.

  8. It’s kind of like the theme song to Mr. Ed. “A writer’s a writer of course, of course and noone can be a writer sans book, unless the writer’s a fabulous blogger whose name is Tor-or-i!”

    FYI, that whole ex-boyfriend is like a limb-rending bear thing was my work.

  9. I came because of the alliterative title you left on SITS but I’m staying because you’re too stinking funny. I’m a high school English teacher (well, I was until I quit for my sanity) and know exactly what you say about writers needing to be a bit tormented. I didn’t fit in when in college. You want to teach? You want to be marketable? You don’t read and write for the…..I don’t know – misery of it? I’ve decided it’s okay to be happy AND write.

    1. Welcome to Crazy House, Barb! I already have a lot of respect for you. I always took bets on when my high school English teacher would snap and beat a student. That has got to be a frustrating job! I love your perspective. If I had to be a cranky brat to be a writer, I’d hardly think it was worth it!

  10. “I’m no writer, after all, just a girl with a kid, a blog, and a hankering for poop jokes.”

    And vagina monologues.

    I’ve taken to calling myself a writer, too, though even with a book out I sometimes still feel like I’m pulling a colossal prank on the whole world when I say that.

  11. If you can still type, or hold a pencil, or have an intelligible thought after four Mocha Jumbo Java CappuFrappuccinos, you are definitely a writer! Then again, I think we’re writers as long as we simply….write. :)

  12. Um, I think I was that writery writer you saw at Starbucks.
    If I could only write the next To Kill a Mockingbird…
    From your writery writing to an agent’s eyes.

  13. Dear Tori — of course you are a writer! (But I mean it in the best possible way.) :) I so enjoy your blog… but these last couple posts I’m having a lot of trouble loading your page. I have to wait a minute after I click over here for anything to appear. Maybe it’s my computer? Don’t know. Anyhow, keep on writing, because you’re great at it!

  14. Can you legitimately call yourself a writer if you do it mostly, like, not for pay? That’s where I’m at!

    I had to laugh at the Waffle House part. The most hilarious thing ever was when my Chilean boyfriend ordered what he thought was hot tea and a saucer of milk and the waitress brought iced sweet tea and a gigantic glass of cold milk. He felt bad, but it was cultural differences at play.

  15. Given that I may have been responsible for this post, I wil further add that you are also very funny. You could do comedic writing. You have the ‘voice’ of a less raunchy Diablo Cody.

  16. Hope you will find me in this sea of comments. I loved this post. I’ve taken a few writing courses here and there and a writer is, pretty much, one who writes. Not one who gets published for writing but simply, one who is compelled to write. If you happen to be talented with using words to elicit emotion and sucking your readers into an image you see in your brain, then so much the better. You are a very talented writer. I love your writing style. I also wanted to say thank you for stopping by my blog the other day to see my latest not very writery post. I have others where I am kind of writery. But I’m glad you stopped by.

    1. Joanne! Welcome. I appreciate the sweet words. I think I just have to get past the superficial things when it comes to being “writery”. I love to write, just love it. I don’t look or act or speak or read or live like the stereotypical writer. I’m a mom in saggy sweatpants who enjoys cartoons and reading bargain bin books, BUT I do write. That might just be my saving grace!

  17. Tori…..that’s the great thing about these wired, open sourced, self-published times that we live in. There is no stereotypical. We all have the tools now – be it music, writing, photography…it’s just a question of what we do with them and how. Democratizes the whole thing and makes it open to everyone.

    I’m a Second Cup man myself….better coffee….better seating….though if there’s an indie coffee shop within a few blocks…that’s where I’m heading every time :-)

    Love the blog…

    1. You have a point. Writing has certainly expanded out of the type writer and cigarette image! I’ll have to make a new niche for myself, maybe Types-While-Changing-Diapers-Writery-Writer? Have fun at Second Cup. I’m going to need a few days to stop the coffee jitters before I head back to Starbucks!

  18. I love this and I knew you were a writer from the first sentence I read of yours. And I’m going to post this on the fb page of my writer’s group cus I know they will all relate. I sure wish we weren’t a hemisphere apart. I’d love to hang out with you, Tori Nelson!

  19. This is awesome! I’m currently on a two-day stay-cation at our cabin – no kids, no hubby, no distractions – in order to be writerly. I’m wearing my best writerly look – leggings, big socks, a sweater so big it could be a bathrobe (minus the belt) – drinking copious amounts of coffee, when I don’t even drink the stuff because now I’d better write since I won’t be sleeping tonight!

Ramble on, little rambler...

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