Writer Fail

When you’ve been a geeky, book-loving, word-slinging poet type since you were a wee little clause, people expect certain things from you. (Let’s just say Third Sister used to call me English Professor when I was in my teens. It was not entirely a compliment.) One of the most common, yet unexpected, things about being a word-slinger is that my friends consult me about baby names. I scan names for them and give my opinions about long vs. short, and then I tell them that their baby names are trochaic or anapests or whatever so my friends feel as if they get their money’s worth. (Note: I do not actually charge for this service.)

The Kid (aka Third Sister’s daughter) texted me yesterday looking for a word. She is applying for college and sent me a sentence about accomplishments with a blank where she needed an adjective. She thought I would just magically have the perfect adjective to fill in. But of course I need a little bit more than that. I needed to know the kind of adjective she was thinking of before we got to specifics. “I just need a sassy adjective,” Kid texted back. She likes using the word “sassy.” I was completely unable to come up with a good adjective for her, but I distracted her by asking her about her new job and telling her about my new teaching gig. “Teenagers can be stupid at times,” she said. “I know (present company excepted). Fortunately my kids are going to be juniors.”

Besides the inherent brilliance and sassiness of The Kid, what impressed me about this exchange is that she thinks I can just come up with the perfect word as if it were mad libs. But good writing is about context and I couldn’t just read her mind. It was a writer fail. What’s good about having a dorky writing auntie if she can’t even pick out a good word for you?

If people know you write, what do they expect from you?

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5 responses to “Writer Fail

  1. A published book. And free copies thereof.

    They also expect me to be free to do whatever they need me to do when they need me to do it, because writing isn’t a “real” part time job and therefore requires no dedicated time.

  2. At a former job, I was always asked to read everyone’s memos, letters, and emails before they went out to “fix” them. In every case, I always made some change, however minor, and they would tell me how that made the missive so much better. It’s one of the reasons I don’t tell people I’m a writer any more.

    And I know what you mean about coming up with the “right word” for people. It takes me weeks sometimes to find the right word for one of my stories, and I know the context and what I want to achieve.

    As for baby names, that little matter is coming up lately in the family, but my daughter says she’s not going to reveal what name she’s chosen until the boy is born.

  3. If they read the blog, they think I’m far more unicorn and rainbows than I really am so they expect some weird sort of positivity. I mean, if I’m mowing the lawn and screaming at the kids, I can see the look. The pressure of it stopped my posts for a bit.

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