There are two things writers really really love and they are: (1) snack breaks, and (2) awkward suffering.
I took a snack break from a manuscript once and it’s lasted 5 years. These things do happen. It’s been an exceptional snack break, only slightly more loved than my affection for awkward writerly suffering.
Pain! We writers love it! For some unfathomable reason! I think some of us were dropped on our heads as babies?? I personally fell down a waterfall as a child and this explains so much honestly. Whenever anyone asks me “Why Cait” which they do like 54 times a day, especially when I’m nesting in my bookshelf with my ancient Celtic sword I wrested from the ghost king, I point them to the root of all my problems. That darn waterfall.
Anyway. I’m sure I’ll be fine. My sister fell out of a tree when she was 9, too, and sometimes I can still hear her little voice. *
So one of the #1 causes of writer pain is definitely —> severely awkward moments. If you haven’t gritted your teeth with that Smile Of Please Kill Me Now™ over an awkward moment, THEN ARE YOU REALLY LIVING?? So I decided to collect some typical awkward writer moments!
And when I say “typical writer moments”…I mean mine.
Please back me up here. Holy heck. Don’t leave me awkwardly alone in the cold. After all I’ve done for you. **
* Because she’s on twitter and alive but you know. Whatever.
** I’m sure I’ve done something for you??? Trying to think???
1. WHEN YOU’RE NOT SURE IF YOU JUST WROTE BRILLIANCE OR UTTER TRASH.
I’m usually asking myself this question about a single sentence so THAT’S HOW FUN MY LIFE IS. Is this inspired??? Does it make sense to anyone other than me??? Will I look at it and laugh and laugh and laugh to cover my horror in 2 years time?? Who can say. And as an author with 2 books coming out, * I can attest to this lovely awkward moment being on the RISE.
* SLAMS YOU IN THE FACE WITH SELF PROMO WOW. THIS CAN’T GET OLD.
2. OH HELLO THERE, TYPOS, YOU’RE NOT RUINING MY LIFE AT ALL HAHAHA NO PLS DO STAY.
Look I’m really really really good at typos. I say “GOOD” instead of “bad at typos” because I like to affirm to myself that I’m succeeding somewhere in life. Whenever I get edits back, everyone’s first awkward comment is, “So WOW! Cait!…typos.” I don’t know what I am either anymore.
FUN TYPOS I’VE BEEN SUCCEEDING AT LATELY
- Steal vs Steel and you’d think this is so easy I’d be embarrassed about it AND YOU’RE RIGHT. PLS SOMEONE SAVE ME.
- My friend just reminded me of the time I used “NatSav” in a novel instead of “SatNav”…#CAPABLE.
- Just recently doing copy-edits I said “top-charting song” instead of “chart-topping”.
- I still struggle with vulnerable vs venerable.
- I will restructure a whole sentence to avoid using phenomenal because I just type that word like “phenonomononal” and ask autocorrect to pitch in.
3. GRAMMAR…IT’S SO AWKWARD.
Look I’ve gotten to the point where I’m just atrocious and then say, “THIS IS ART AND POETRY” and hope everyone accepts that and calls me a genius instead of someone who starts screaming when you talk about where to put commas.
Can’t I just leave a whole stack of punctuation at the end of my book and then we play “PICK AND FILL AS YOU LIKE!” at the end of the novel??? This could work.
4. WHEN YOU FORGET ALL YOUR CHARACTERS’ NAMES WHILE YOU’RE WRITING.
This happens freaking all. the. time. One book I was writing, I literally got to the point where I stuck a sticky note to my laptop screen with all the characters’ names written out because NO, SIR, I DON’T REMEMBER. They weren’t even hard names!!
To be fair I generally have a lot going on in my mind, like which souls I’m harvesting in the afternoon, how I can make best use of the new 280-characters on twitter, world domination plans for January, if I ate the last piece of cake or did someone else, and how many books can I write in a year, etc. etc. My mind is very very busy. With important things. Obviously.
However this is still really awkward.
5. WHEN YOU’RE NOT SURE WHAT YOUR BOOK IS ABOUT.
I can write 100,000-word book and get to the and still not be QUITE sure what I’m trying to say. Writing is hard, OK? And it’s hard to write an interesting story with interesting characters and have an interesting message as well. Because apparently just 30 chapters of people getting stabbed and sassed to death isn’t considered “a thought-provoking message”. PFFFFFT. How about: Don’t get stabbed. Like, look what I’m teaching the children here.
ACTUAL CONVERSATION BETWEEN WRITER AND HUMANS:
Human: Oh wow you’re writing a book this month?!
Me: Yes. It’s all planned! I have an outline and a schedule and I’m ready to do this!
Human: What’s it about?
Human: Like what’s the theme of your novel?
Me: look I have to go, my curtains are crying and they need me.
6. THE CASE OF THE MISSING OBJECTS AND WOUNDS.
When writing, you have a LOT of stuff to keep track of. Like who has what wound and who put down the umbrella and what they’re wearing and HOW THIS CHANGES IN EVERY SINGLE FREAKING SCENE.
For instance: while editing recently, I had two people slam a door. The door didn’t open between these times. It was just infinite slamming for NO APPARENT REASON UNLESS I HAVE A GHOST I DON’T KNOW ABOUT AND THEN WOW THIS CONTEMPORARY JUST GOT EXCITING.
And wounds. UGH WOUNDS. You know how when you stab a character on the LEFT in one scene…and then the next scene it’s suddenly on the RIGHT? Or just forgetting a wound. Or adding one. Or having no clue what the heck you’re doing.
This is awkward because when you get to beta readers, a lot of the time they just sit there with a frozen smile saying: “Why.”
To which I reply: “Yes.”
7. WHEN YOUR SCENE IS SUPER AWESOME IN YOUR HEAD AND THEN YOU WRITE AND WOW…NO.
I think up really really cool scenes that would work SO WELL AS A MOVIE! Like put in the epic music, the slow-mo explosion, that really bitter eye expression that’s super cool on screen and–
Um yeah I’m writing a book. Oh wow. This is awkward. How about that.
I mean my #1 talent in life is to think up really cool stuff and then GIVE IT ANXIETY. Why was it better in my head. Why does it look like a turtle just rolled in blueberry jam over my page and I’m trying to pass this off as a novel. What is this life.
I’ve also been thinking so intently of a scene while out for a walk once that I started glaring really fiercely. I was in the scene OK? I was one with the scene. I also probably looked like an axe murderer–
BUT ALSO WHAT’S NEW. I have the resting face of Death.
8. WHEN YOU AWKWARDLY PLAGIARISE YOURSELF.
Also I’m putting “plagiarise” on my list of “words I can’t spell without crying and spellcheck” because what even is going on with the A’s and the I’s? I didn’t ask for this.
But anyway. I’m super good at accidentally stealing from myself. Like sometimes WHOLE SCENES. IT’S AMAZING. GO ME AND MY TALENT FOR THEFT. Kaz Brekker would be proud of me. *
This is super awkward because I’m terrified my books will end up sounding the same. Did I write this character before??? Did I use this plot twist before??? Is this dialogue sound like deja vu because I haven’t slept since 1664 or because I used it in my last book??? I have literally no memory.
I’m pretty much sending myself an angry letter about this.
* Actually probably not. He’d probably murder me in an alley but fine.
9. WHEN PEOPLE COMPLIMENT OR INSULT YOUR WRITING.
Like is there a HOW-TO-GUIDE on responding to these sorts of things?!?? I swear I have no idea how to accept a compliment. I usually result to saying, “Eeep!” and if I’m online, there’ll be 4 following emojis to try and convince you I’m intelligent and not at all awkward.
I’m doing a good job at that.
And insults are equally just as hard. I’ve legit entered a contest to have someone critique my query (this was years ago) where the author hosting said: “Well, no this will never get you an agent. Your book is all wrong.”
I mean. WHAT DO YOU EVEN SAY TO THAT. * Unless you want to throw a teaspoon and walk away shouting. Which I’m often tempted to do except I’m non-confrontational, except if you insult The Raven Cycle. And then, no, son, we’re having at it.
So basically: how do you people? Who would know. I suggest just using emojis to respond to every situation. I’ll be fine.
* Except LOL @ THAT AUTHOR, for I got an agent with that book and that query letter. 500% proof that you need to trust YOURSELF, little writerlings out there. Be ye encouraged.
10. LETTING YOUR FAMILY READ YOUR WRITING.
I do love my family (mostly) and I have a nice family (mostly) and the usually feed me cake when I’ve been writing for a long time (very good) — but HOLY HECK when they ask to read my writing???? Where are my 1-way tickets to Antartica. I cannot.
REASONS IT’S TERRIFYING FOR YOUR FAMILY TO READ YOUR WRITING:
- They will try to “see” themselves in it all. the. time. (“IS THIS CHARACTER ME, CAIT?” No for the 67th time. It’s not.)
- (Direct quote from my mother: “DID YOU BASE THE TALKING HORSE OFF ME. I CAN SEE YOU DID.”)
- So if you write horrible parents, your parents will start asking questions and looking offended.
- Honestly sometimes you just like your family to think you’re NICE. When they read your books?? Haha there goes that. I just stabbed everyone and they’re all swearing and crying.
- It’s embarrassing! You always put some of YOU on the page and they’ll see that before a stranger would. Like I’m not here to be vulnerable to my family. To complete strangers? Yes. To family? no.
- They analyse you after they read your writing…or maybe this is just my family? Haha, but woah this is awkward.
- They always assume the protagonist is secretly you.
- Romance scenes, OK? I…nope. Don’t read that.
My family IS a huge cheer squad for me, so I am grateful!
I’m pretty extra sure that when I announced my book deal, they were about to tell the postman. (PLEASE. NO.) And 67% of my texts to my sister are whining about some writerly thing which she companionably ignores and I’m planning to push her out of another tree sometime soon.
So it’s amazing and also I would be totally ok to go to Antartica when they read my writing, yes? Because even though these days I say, “No you can’t read it,” my parents respond with, “FINE WE’LL BUY IT WHEN IT COMES OUT.”
Pack my bags. Pack me. Just let me go, I’m a mess.