As a writer, you are probably more self-absorbed than the average person. You find it cumbersome to socialize. You hate confrontations when it is your turn to listen. I am not saying you can be moody too. Just that there are motherless honey badgers in the Kalahari dessert with shorter fuses. Only in language have you found the comfort you need, without feeling inadequate about expressing your emotions. For you, writing is more than a celebration of the art form. It is your bomb shelter. Your refugee camp. You take it way more seriously than you should.
It is perhaps why you egg, at times, those you interact with to physically harm you or give up their respective belief systems to consider placing a voodoo curse on you. So here are five things – as a writer – you (we) can do to avoid getting punched in your (our) faces.
Do not grammatically correct people in the middle of an argument
It is an awful thing to do because it has little to do with the respect you have for language. In fact it could only mean one of two things. You are a petty person in a conversation that is remarkably going in your favour. And you want to end it on a condescending note. Or you are a soldier clutching at straws. Struggling in a quicksand of defeat. You lost the war, and the battle. Your soldiers are retreating. It’s all gone to hell. But you don’t care. You lay there, with blood-caked limbs, thinking of insults to throw at the army chef for the canned tuna served last night. If you ever make it back to base camp, of course.
Sharing isn’t always caring
Recommending a book can be a beautiful thing. Sometimes you can make meaningful additions to people’s lives with timely recommendations. An honest review. Give them hope. Ideas to travel. Something to chew on when everything else is going wrong. However you may end up irritating them with a hint of condescension. For instance, if you find out that someone you are close to hasn’t yet read your favourite book ever – do not lose your mind.
The authors of those books you love so much have enough admiration already. They sleep just fine. You should too. A person’s reading habits need guidance, not a sanctimonious cult leader. It is acceptable that people might not appreciate the sort of books that you do. In case you haven’t noticed, that is pretty much how the world works. It’s why someone else might throw your grandmother out of a moving train for an extra cookie and be a better person for it.
Being a writer is not a dream that came true. It is a bomb shelter. Please stop telling everyone else how fulfilling it is to be a writer. Or how awesome your professional life is.
You write content. It doesn’t imply that you feel contentment. If you weren’t a writer, you would have probably cut yourself, like that stupid song said, to bleed just to know that you are alive. Since now that you are a writer, you know that it saved your life. It is therefore understandable that you feel the need to talk about it. But please, for the sake of not getting punched in the face, do not romanticize it. No one wants to hear another remixed version of what it feels like to be a writer
“I yam what I yam (tooo-tooo)”
Words are not detergents to wash your dirty laundry with. Writing is not a defence mechanism to deal with people and your problems with them. You cannot use it to substitute actual conversations. That’s the kind of stuff that people should get punched in the face for.
The next time you want to tell someone about how you feel, just talk to them. Stay away from complex synonyms. Leave your appreciation for archaic idioms out of it. Don’t rely on people to go through lengthy personal blog posts, sad tweets and Facebook rants. Nobody has the time to visit dictionary.com whenever their friend has a problem with them.
As a writer, you cannot fathom the level of annoyance it may leave people with. You have five digits and a functional brain. Use them wisely. And for the love of everything decent in this blue planet, please do not quote Nietzsche.
Just quit. Enough is enough.
Think about it. Isn’t every word you use a made-up word? Doesn’t every sentence you write take you further from what the universe wants you to know? The joy the galaxy wants you to feel.
Writing barely qualifies as art. We abide by a set of fantasy rules to think that we are really good at it. But is it really worth getting physically injured over? Maybe you should pick another career to compensate for your incompetence as a human being.
The Langurs (Grey / Nilgiri) featured in this post were photographed at Thekkady, Mudhumalai and Meghamalai.