I write in a lot of different genres, from true crime to sci-fi to military history. Over the years I have accumulated a lot of experience in being an author. This list covers a pretty wide variety of those genre’s. It is intended for my author friends out there to give them a moment of self-indulgence. As such, I present the following:
You know you are a writer when you…
…carry on conversations in your head (or out loud) with people that are either dead or who never existed.
…hate math but when you look at your Amazon author’s ratings you want to get into full algebra mode to try and figure out your book sales, ratings, etc.
…delete more words than ever appear in print.
…begrudgingly admit when an editor catches something you missed.
…wake up in the middle of the night with a brilliant idea…and in the morning you can only remember having the brilliant idea, not what it was.
…you look at an editor’s comment about a paragraph and say, “That’s cute, but there’s no fucking way I’m changing that!”
…have stacks of research and notes all around your PC and can find any single page in less than 20 seconds if called upon.
…experience dread when sitting at a lonely table at Barnes & Noble to autograph books.
…spend six hours reading to get three sentences of content and consider yourself productive.
…have referred to an editor as, “That Fuckity-fuck-fucking-fuck-faced-fucker.”
…don’t express emotion when a person in your life dies, but you weep when you kill one of your favorite characters.
…are writing stories in your sleep.
…critique other writer’s sources and footnotes.
…have told someone, “Yes, everyone has a novel in them. That doesn’t mean they were meant to put it on paper.”
…think the character you are describing is George Clooney but the fans think it’s Jerry Lewis.
…are accused of having subtext in your work that doesn’t exist.
…devise new ways to procrastinate.
…get excited to learn a new feature of MS Word.
…have seen comments from an editor and said things out loud like, “How in the hell can you have a problem with the word ‘red’?”
…get into arguments with fans about continuity errors.
…get into arguments with characters that don’t really exist outside of your mind.
…can watch TV and know when a suspect is lying on a true crime show because you have studied how to spot it.
…name a character after some douchebag in your life, just so you can enjoy killing the character (slowly, without mercy.)
…read your own words and physically cringe.
…see something on TV and you’re sure they lifted it from one of your works.
…hide Easter eggs in your manuscript just to see if readers find them.
…wince when someone sends you an unsolicited manuscript and expects you to read it and provide detailed input – by Wednesday – pro bono.
…have standing instructions to destroy your personal journals upon your death.
…consider caffeine the top of your food pyramid.
…have asked yourself, “What would my character do in this situation?”
…have boxes of research material you can’t toss because it was so hard to get in the first place.
…have been days when you have not seen sunlight because of your craft.
…lost your temper when someone has asked for a free copy of one of your books. “Can you shoot me a PDF of your latest book?” “No. Fuck no.”
…you own a hoodie that says, “Basically a Detective.” (true story – thanks CrimeCon!)
…engage in debates with people about the range of lasers, particle projection cannons, and rail guns.
…have toys in your workspace to spark creativity.
…have spent 15 minutes rewriting a sentence only to delete it.
…know the archivists at the National Archives by name (or they know your birthday.)
…take notes of people’s personality and physical quirks to use later in your stories.
…own maps for planets that do not exist.
…have nightmares because of things you are writing.
…have books on your shelf that you wrote that you have not opened in years – and when you do, you critique your own work.
…secretly believe your characters are meeting and plotting against you.
…question other people’s/character’s sanity, but never your own.
…have debates with yourself over how a sentence can be interpreted…and lose the argument!
…appreciate why Hemmingway drank so much when he wrote.
…have flipped-off the PC monitor after reading an idiotic review on Amazon.
…know the tunnel system under the Library of Congress as well as your own basement.
…go through Facebook for photos of people to use as characters in your novel.
…have to ask someone what day it is because you were so busy writing, you are no longer sure.
…never feel alone because of the voices in your head.
…get calls from your police friends asking, “Did you see that shit on TV?”
…can’t cook breakfast but have a solid understanding of forensics psychology and/or quantum mechanics.
…define a great day as, “having scored at the National Archives!” and It has nothing to do with sex.
…meet other authors and realize that there’s a reason you work in your home office alone.
…look forward to meeting your fans and dread it at the same time.
…repeat yourself often because you can no longer distinguish the conversations in your head and the ones you say out loud. (true story)
…can’t remember the last time you ate, but can describe the last meal your character had in intimate detail.
…are actively considering taking up alcoholism because it might help hone your craft.
…you can’t change the oil on your car but you know when a fusion reactor doesn’t sound right on a BattleMech.
…have written up reviews of reviews you have received. “Your review of my recent book demonstrates a third grade understanding of grammar, at best. While I don’t use the words, ‘flatulating butthead,” often, they seem to apply in your case.” Or, the more popular, “Does your mommy know you are on the internet?”
…are caught by your spouse looking at pictures on your PC, and it isn’t porn, it’s autopsy photos. (true story)
…read an interview where you are quoted, but you were never interviewed by the writer.
…cringe at questions about book production. Example: “When will this be available in Australia, as an audio book, in French?” Rant Mode Engaged: We are writers, not publishers. We don’t know this shit. We are the LAST to know this shit.
…are convinced that white van parked for three hours in front of your house is the FBI or Virginia State Police surveilling you. (true story)
…count comic books and movies as “research expenses.”
…watch a true crime show and mentally pick up on all of the procedural mistakes.
…have spoken in the voice of one of your characters, hopefully when alone and in private.
…like a book for things that no one else does. “The plot structure was unorthodox and cool…I’m SO stealing it for my next project.”
…consider among your best friends, characters you created. Sidebar: Do not use them for references on job applications.
…you get hang-up phone calls from burner phones and are convinced it is serial killers you have written about. (true story)
…are unsure what day it is because you are so in-deep with a writing project.
…spend your whole life waiting to be recognized and asked for autographs, only to find each one to be an awkward and sometimes disturbing encounter.
…are recognized for something you wrote that you put little effort into; while the work you are most proud of is hardly read by fans.
…have missed one or more meals because of a sentence that is being a bitch and refusing to be written correctly.
…study things that most other people do not, just so you can be accurate. Example: Geographic profiling algorithms.
…have had an argument with a fan over a character you created, and killed. “How could you have killed her that way?” “You do realize that she’s not a real person, right? And I killed her because I created her!”
…have made someone uncomfortable at a dinner party when they ask you about your latest project. “…and she was brutally stabbed repeatedly for a dozen times. The splatter pattern was everywhere…”
…realize your search history on our PC ensures you are going to go to jail. Examples: Ligature strangulation. Time to asphyxiate an adult. Moving dead bodies. Decomposition of human remains. Unsolved serial killing sprees. Murder kits. Note: My wife is the safest person on the world. If anything happens to her, I will go to jail on my search history alone.
….apply what you learned about police interrogations and spotting liars into your day-to-day interactions with other people. “Oh, she’s lying, listen to how she responded by my question…”
…have no idea what kind or size of engine is in your car, but can rattle off the fusion reactors and manufacturers for every model of BattleMaster BattleMech ever produced.
…have maps of WWI battlefields (or similar locales) laying around your office because you never know when you might need them.
…experience both excitement and sheer terror when a new book is released.
…struggle telling people at your day job what you do at night. “Technically, when I’m not here, I’m out fighting crime…”
…admire when another author gets it right!