Writers are peculiar creatures and often incomprehensible. What is that they’re babbling? Is that in English? Sheesh. Whenever they emerge from their writerly projects, it’s like trying to get through to someone who left their brain on another planet.
BUT I AM HERE TO HELP. (I am so kind.) Being a writer myself, I have inside-info on what those “deranged babbles” actually mean, and how, basically, to translate the various phrases and actions your resident writer-creature commits. It’s vital to understanding them. Writers are such delicate beasts, remember. They need understanding and cake.
Behold! My incredibly helpful translations!
“I’M WRITING A BOOK! I’M WRITING A BOOK! IT’S GOING TO BE SO AWESOME AND I’LL SELL A MILLION COPIES AND HUZZAH!”
This can be roughly translated to mean, “Hello, I am a writer. I have 2 and a half ideas and they look pretty together so I’m going to pin them with the delicate strength of hope and longing but they probably suck.“ The best response to this is to nod and smile and agree. Always agree, okay? Always agree. <– crucial step right there
“I’M AN ASPIRING WRITER.”
This basically translates to “I want to be a writer so so bad, but do I deserve to be a writer??? Is there like a writers badge you can apply for??? Do I look like a writer? If I don’t drink coffee can I still be a writer? Idek all the answers so I’ll tack ‘aspiring’ on there and wait and see.” Ignore this. Call them “writer”.
“CAN YOU READ THIS AND GIVE ME FEEDBACK? GIVE IT TO ME TOUGH. I CAN TAKE IT.”
This is very easily translated to, “Please read this scrap of my horrific writing which I’m paralysed to give into your hands, but I need to grow as a writer, so I’m doing this thing — nunngh, hold me, I’m about to faint — and also say at least one nice thing please I’m dying here.” Even if they say “give it to me tough” always start with something nice. End with something nice too. Also put nice things in the middle.
“I’M WRITING TODAY, STRAIGHT AFTER I FINISH VACUUMING THE CEILING.”
This is translated to “I am procrastinating not writing ha ha ha ha why would I write when the ceiling could be vacuumed, ugh, do you know how hard writing is? It’s so hard. A blank page is scaring me. I cannot go on. THERE IS ONLY DOOM AHEAD.” Basically if a writer is supposedly ‘working on a project’ and then you suddenly find them doing something oddly useful, like cooking dinner or cleaning the bathroom or training their pet gerbil to skip — this is what they’re really saying.
“I’M DOING NANOWRIMO THIS MONTH, SO I MIGHT BE A BIT PREOCCUPIED.”
This translates to “I’m doing something insane INSANE INNNSSAAAAANNNNNE. Don’t expect to see me for 30 days. At all. Ever. Leave my meals at the door.” I suggest making sure there is chocolate in the house because have you seen a writer meltdown when they need chocolate during November?? YOU DON’T WANT TO SEE IT. Stock. Up. On. Chocolate. Also “bit preoccupied” is a gross understatement. Be nice when they tell you this, though. Don’t laugh in their face. Laugh uproariously behind closed doors.
Also perhaps hang a memorable photo of them on the fridge because that’s all you’re going to see of them until December.
“I HAVE A SMALL PLOT HOLE THAT’S GIVING ME SOME TROUBLE.”
Easy translation: “I have a plot hole(s) as deep as the Mariana Trench and I’m crying and I think something in my brain just died and turned to mush and how do I fix this and how do I live and I can’t I can’t I can’t.” Give them chocolate. NOW. Do not delay. I also suggest dragging them away from the computer for a while and maybe taking them on a relaxing bungee jump for a few hours.
“WRITERS GET INSPIRATION EVERYWHERE.”
This is terrifying and translates to “Anything and everything you do or say in my presence can be held as inspiration and is totally going in my novel and will be preserved forever so bow to me and be kind and go fetch me coffee, miscreant, or else do you know what I’ll write about you? Mwhahah.” Don’t do ANYTHING memorable. Don’t even sneeze. Don’t say anything funny. Try to wear grey and blend with the carpet.
“THIS IS JUST A ROUGH DRAFT YOU KNOW. DON’T JUDGE ME. HA HA HAHA.”
This basically means “This is not a rough draft and has been polished within and inch of my life but no doubt you’re going to find mistakes and think I’m a horrible writer when my braaaain is dying from writing so intensely. Ergo I’ll say it’s rough. But it’s not. Please love it.”
It’s really funny to respond to this with “Good luck with edits! I see you’ll need it!” very cheerfully. It’ll probably kill their poor little soul and that would be funny but — WAIT WHAT AM I SAYING??!? Don’t say this!! BE NICE. Tell them it reads like a polished gemstone.
“IT’S A WRITER THING AND YOU WOULDN’T UNDERSTAND.”
Which is another way of saying “What would you know, tiny stunted gnat? Not everyone can do what I’m doing. I’M DOING GREAT THINGS between looking at cat gifs AND IT’S REALLY HARD WORK. Hard. work. I. tell. you.” And it’s hilarious that they’re saying this and I’m helpfully translating it for you because now you understand! HA!
“THIS BOOK IS BASICALLY MY BABY.”
Which obviously means “If you insult this novel at any stage I will cut you.” Think of a mama bear and then imagine if it had the internet and — boom. You have a very good visual of a writer and their darling manuscript.
“I GOT A REJECTION, BUT AT LEAST IT WAS A NICE REJECTION.”
This adorably means, “I’M A SUCKY ARTIST AND NO ONE LOVES ME. I’ll be rejected forever. They hate me. They hate my work. They hate my choice of socks. This entire novel is rubbish. How could they not love it??? How could they not love me?? I am not a writer. I am a lemon.” You should probably pat them on the shoulder and take a moment to rant to the tune of “that publisher is obviously clueless” because this will make the writer feel a bit better and maybe even less like citrus.
“I JUST FINISHED WRITING MY BOOK!!”
This is very easily translated into “CELEBRATE ME NOW!” and you should do that. Immediately. Do not delay. Break out the ice cream, the coconut truffles, the planned holiday in the Bahamas, and promise to bake a cake bigger than Slovenia for them (this isn’t too ridiculous,Slovenia is very small).
“AGH JFDK AJDSKAL JKDF IUQIWUQIQQQQWR.”
This has several potential translations and it’s more about circumstance. For instance, if they’re jumping up and down waving a book deal contract, it’s safe to assume they wish you to jump up and down with them and flail. BUT. If they’re howling whilst committing this strange string of “words” … I honestly suggest throwing more soft waffles at their face and perhaps patting them softly on the back and crooning Kumbaya. Don’t ask reasons. Because there probably is no exact one reason. This is just the writing life.