You Know You’re A Novelist When…

- by Barbara Keiler

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You know you’re a novelist when:

  • The characters you’re writing about seem more real to you (and often more interesting) than the people sitting around your dinner table.
  • You think reading the thesaurus is fun.
  • You refuse to quit smoking, drinking bourbon, bingeing on M&M’s or [insert bad habit here] because you believe that if you quit, you’ll never be able to write again, and your novels are more important than your health.
  • Your idea of dressing for work is swapping the sweats you sleep in for the sweats you write in.
  • You consider going to the movies “research.”
  • You bring a laptop with you to Little League games so you can get some writing done between innings.
  • You see nothing unusual about receiving fifty emails a day.
  • You ask inappropriate questions of people you’ve just met.  (“You’re a physician?  That’s great, because I was wondering, if someone got stabbed in the back, where exactly would the knife have to enter his body so he wouldn’t bleed to death?”)
  • You care more about how you look in your dust-jacket photo than how you looked in your wedding pictures.
  • You use hotel stationery to jot down story ideas that come to you while you’re on vacation.
  • You receive a phone call informing you that your daughter vomited in the middle of her third-grade gym class, and you tell the school nurse, “I’ll pick her up as soon as I finish this chapter.”
  • The working title of your current project is The Book From Hell (which, ironically, was also the working title of your previous project, and the one before that.)
  • You listen to Mark Cohn singing “Walking in Memphis” five times a day because his voice sounds kind of like the way you imagine your hero’s voice sounding.
  • The word “revisions” causes you to break into a cold sweat.
  • You arrive at the supermarket with absolutely no memory of having driven there, because you were puzzling out a plot point during the drive.
  • You own four different books listing names for babies.
  • You occasionally find yourself thinking that flipping burgers in a fast-food restaurant must be more fun than what you’re doing.
  • You use the word “Alphie” to refer to a portable word processor, not a movie starring Michael Caine or Jude Law.
  • You spend hours engaged in an internal debate over whether “hadn’t” works better than “had not” in a particular sentence.  And then, once you decide to go with “hadn’t,” you wake up in the middle of the night thinking, “I should change it back to ‘had not.'”
  • You get tennis elbow not from playing tennis but from overusing your mouse.
  • Calamity strikes-a fender-bender, a flood, a scary diagnosis, a love affair gone sour-and you react by saying, “I’ll get a book out of it.”
  • You believe all reviewers are insane, except for the ones who give your books five stars.
  • You accompany every blog post you write with the cover art for your next novel in the faint, feeble hope that people will remember you’ve got a book coming out soon and that (oh, please, oh, please!) they’ll buy it, and that (really, if it isn’t asking too much) they’ll like it.

5 comments

  1. Ha! So very true. Thanks for the smile.

  2. Barbara: I laughed OUT LOUD over your article! All my books are titled THE BOOK FROM HELL! As for personal grooming, I consider it a major accomplishment if I’m out of my pajamas by noon! Thanks for making my day! Charlotte Hughes

  3. This is awesome. You’ve covered just about everything.

  4. I agree with Margaret…you did cover EVERYTHING! I have been a novelist most of my life, I just haven’t been published. I live the Novelists Life – the research, the characters that seem more real than the humans I interact with, and disecting the favorite old movies to see what made them work… (especially while I am unemployed and have more time to devote to writing)

    I write because I prefer MY World to the REAL World. Hopefully I will get my first rejection notice this fall (or acceptance!). Thank you for the humor and letting me know that I am not WEIRD (as my family is inclined to think)! Sincerely, Deb

  5. I was needing to know what is the websites to go to invest in one of the fema trailers?