I'm a Writer, I'm a Jerk

I'm a Writer, I'm a Jerk by Carisa Miller

Inspiration does not adhere to working hours. Ideas cannot be scheduled. Muses do not respond to requests. My best writing ideas light upon me at the most inopportune times.

I am frequently graced by a glimmer of perfect prose while washing my hair, and must make the decision: go forth with my ablutions and rinse freshly minted brilliance down the drain, or scramble out of the shower and stand dripping over my smartphone.  

Faeries, whispering the words I’ve searched for all day, often visit me moments before the sandman arrives to tuck me in at night. It’s a toss up whether I will fall asleep, sending this precious magic to a certain death, or flourish the bedding like a cape, and whack my shin into the door on the way through the dark towards the computer.

And this is when I’m lucky. Ideas that strike in the shower or at bedtime only really torture me.  (Though occasionally my husband has lovingly mentioned that it does, in fact, wake him when I fly to and from the bed [often multiple times] in the middle of the night.)

When I am unlucky, my visions visit while I’m visiting with my husband, out with friends or reading bedtime stories to the children. Then, in order to put something down in writing, I have to be a jerk. Then, I need the world and everyone in it to sit tight so I can jot something down real quick.

I am notorious for snapping at persons threatening to infiltrate my creative onslaughts. I would much prefer to say, “Pardon me, I don’t mean to offend, but I’ve been struck by an idea related to my writing. If you would kindly cease speaking, inspiration of this nature is quite flighty and I must put this one down immediately,” but by the time I was finished being polite, “immediately” would have packed its bags and run away with my perfect punchline. This is why instead, I must simply raise my hand and blurt, “Wait!”, and when interrupted snarl, “Shhhh! I’ve got to write this down,” while making flailing hand gestures at my loved ones that plead them to say no more. Sometimes, I even run away.

Someone who doesn’t know what it is to be a writer, might think I am rude. Someone who does, knows for sure that I am.

As though the poorly timed inspirations which lead to my abrupt disappearances don't make me inconsiderate enough (notice how I place blame on creative impulse), my writerly self is also high maintenance and insecure.

I teeter on an edge between egomania and crippling self-doubt. I am brilliant and worthless, a hundred times a day. I can go from, “How terrifically I’ve worded this!” to, “Who am I to think I have anything of value to  say?” to “Surely, everyone will be delighted to read my latest essay,” to,“How dare I call myself a writer!” in sixty-seconds flat.

I can hardly live with myself, I not sure how anyone else manages to.

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Originally, I wrote everything above to encompass all writers, but realized I should not speak for anyone else's experiences. If I have touched on any part of my behavior that is generally writer-like and not just me specifically, I hope to be told so. It would be a comfort. But I won’t call anyone names but me. I know what a jerk I am, but I don't see anyway it can helped, because I can’t help being a writer. Help.

What should you do if you have a jerk writer like me on your hands? Forgive them. Try to get on board with how they operate. Writing isn't a job, it's a whole life. Congratulate your writer for following their dreams. Because while both being a writer and being around a writer sometimes feels like punishment, being a writer is exactly what a writer wants to be. Unless they’d rather be a Muppet, in which case, who could blame them?