So I was initially going to write a post about people who write in coffee shops and how they drive me nuts–and then I thought to myself, ‘this is a little too aggro-specific. After all, it isn’t just the Starbucks fanboy with his Macbook Air that drives me crazy. Hell, there are a LOT of things that drive me crazy… why stop there?’
So I thought about why the Macbook guy and his fancy scarf get under my skin. I mean, my reaction to these people–these coffee shop writers–is immediate. As soon as I spot one my heart rate spikes, my hands get all clammy; I imagine myself losing all self-control and marching right up to that guy… In reality, I just stand at the milk-and-stir-stick station and crumple handfuls of napkins in silent fury.
But why? What gives this Apple geek so much power over me? Is it the pale blue glow of his fancy laptop? Is it his French beret cocked every-so-slightly atop his pointy head? Is it his tiny mustache or his shiny loafers? No. It isn’t any of that, though all of those things do make me want to roll up a newspaper, smack him as hard as possible, and yell ‘NO’ at him while wagging my finger. But it isn’t his fashion sense or his overpriced gadgets… it’s the ego. Oh god, the ego…
And then there’s another breed of ‘writer’ that infuriates me: the word count obsessed writer that holds out his daily numbers like some yardstick of greatness. I wrote eight thousand words today. In one sitting. It only took me an hour. You know what you can do with that word count? Bend over and I’ll show you.
If you’ve been following my blog, you know that I’m an advocate of speed writing, especially if we’re talking about the first draft. But what I am not an advocate of, dear reader, is blatant ego. Word count flaunting runs rampant in writing circles. It all goes back to the playground and who has the better sack lunch or who’s sneakers are cooler. I hated these kids in grade school. I kept my distance. And the more time I spend among these circles, the more I find myself doing the same thing I did when I was six; slowly backing away with my hands in a defensive position…
Writers are a weird group. There’s a lot of peacocking, a lot of forced niceness based on nothing more than affiliation. Now, before you get all comment crazy, I’ll be the first to say that some of these people are genuinely awesome. I’ve met a ton of writers who are amazingly supportive. But in the end, I don’t connect with these people because they’re writers; I connect with them because we have things other than writing in common, be it a sense of humor or a favorite television show or… whatever. People who can’t stop talking about writing? They get under my skin as much as that Starbucks fashionista. And that’s why, while I’m a member of many a writing circle, my participation is pretty limited.
I don’t like the Starbucks guy because he’s ridiculous. He’s at Starbucks because he thinks it’s chic–look at me with my laptop and intent concentration. I’m the next Ernest Hemingway! Okay, yes… Hemingway did occasionally write in coffee shops, but Hemingway was also a Grade A douche. For the most part, he wrote while drinking himself to death in the comfort of his own home. If you want to be chic like Hemingway, I suggest a lot of alcohol and a shotgun for later.
And you word count whores… cut it out. Your word count makes you a better writer like penis size makes you a better man. If you aren’t going to cut the crap to save yourself from looking like an ass, then do it for the people around you who may very well be stuck at the bottom of the writer’s block well. Imagine someone talking about their 8k-A-Day success while you can’t even eek out a lousy paragraph. Not cool.
I’m a firm believer in silence. When I write, I don’t tell anyone about what I’m writing. I don’t announce my daily progress to the world. And I certainly don’t do my bidding in a crowded coffee shop so people can glance my way and think, Man, what a babe… what a totally smart laptop-using coffee-drinking babe.
If you need that sort of self-assurance, well… you need that sort of self-assurance. And that’s just kind of sad.
P.S. Zoe… if you bring on more crazies, I swear to god…