Monday, January 10, 2022

Google Search - What Are Writers?

Happy New Year everybody! It's my turn to take a stab at the Google Search theme, and I sat here for quite some time mulling over what I should search. After much consideration, I thought, "hey, this is a writer's blog, so I'll google something about writers". So I typed in... "are writers..."

Oh boy. Here are the most popular auto-fills.

I was slightly surprised that there were, in my opinion, 3 (sort of) offensive questions among those top searches - are writers narcissists? - are writers crazy? - are writers selfish? But then I wondered why I was offended. Perhaps it was because instead of reading those searches as questions, I read them as assumptions - or even worse - facts. Then I wondered, even if the answers to all those questions is "yes", why would I take any of it personally? Unless..... unless I am, indeed, narcissistic, crazy, and selfish. Oh lord.

I jest. I wasn't offended... honestly. Maybe I bristled just a little.. but just a little! Those searches did lead me to wonder, though, what the typical impression of a writer is to those who aren't writers.

When I was a kid, I always pictured writers as these well-educated, pompous yet majestic creatures that sit at their desks during the wee hours, drinking tumblers of whiskey, shrouded in cigarette smoke, hammering away at their typewriters in a creative frenzy, rushing to get every wonderful thought out before the burden of their genius crushed their brains. Oh, and they were always wearing waistcoats.

My favourite book was Matilda and I sincerely imagined that this was how Roald Dahl penned this tale... swearing over the keys, getting up every now and then to run his finger over an errant nail he'd hammered into the wall in order to envisage the Chokey. Don't ask me why, at this tender young age, plumes of smoke, alcohol, and insomnia were how I imagined writers - I don't know how I conjured this image. And definitely don't ask me why, even at the age of ten, this was a lifestyle I aspired towards. There must have been something romantic to me about the idea of stress-imbibing over a haphazard manuscript.

In my teens and young adult years, my impression of writers changed into something less chaotic. Instead, I imagined writers to be solitary, quiet, introspective beings with iron-clad discipline. You know, the kind of people who start their day with a hike and a grapefruit, and then retire for countless hours to their office. They would stop only now and then to gaze out of the window at the trees (or lake, or mountains, because for some reason I thought all writers wrote in remote cabins), in search of the fabled muse.

It was only when I started writing myself and made friends with other writers that I realised that mostly my notions of writing and writers were unrealistic. Writing isn't some magical process by which you're overtaken with inspiration and typing through visions of waterfalls and fairies whilst crafting the perfect character arc... it's realising four paragraphs in that you've used the word "realising" 20 times already. It's realising that you've just described someone's piercing blue eyes even though 3 months ago when you started the novel, you said their eyes were green and you didn't bother to write down this detail because you thought you'd remember...but you can't remember... wait a minute - why did I say they had middle-child syndrome and then make the fact that they're an only child a major plot point?! Oh.. and what's this... a plot thread that I planned to work on later so that it became a major theme but then it fizzled out because I took a break for a few weeks and then completely forgot about it because, as I previously mentioned, I didn't make a note of the things I was sure I'd remember, and I was distracted anyway by a glaring plot hole that I wrote myself into, but it's become an abyss I can't find my way out of.

Writing IS magical, but it's also really hard work, I guess is what I'm saying. You get so distracted by the many things involved in crafting but one piece of writing, like I have here actually, because didn't this rambling rant start with something about Google? Oh yeah - Google Search!

In answer to all of the most-searched questions, I say this: Yes. No. Maybe. I don't knowwwww. Can you repeat the question?

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