Wednesday, September 5, 2012

How to Terrorize a Writer

Most writers are odd, and many of us seem to suffer from social anxiety issues of one type or another, especially as relates to our books and the process of writing.

Here's how to fill our lives with terror and discomfort.

1. If the room/restaurant is nearly empty, sit really close. It doesn't matter whether you stare at the writer or turn your back to her, it's going to be uncomfortable. Scoot your chair back even more, blocking her against the wall. For bonus points, wear offensively heavy perfume or eat something really, really stinky.

2. Walk up and attempt to half-heartedly make small talk. Saying things like, "" or "Wow, what a day" works. It's not scary if you talk about something the writer finds interesting or start an actual discussion. Make it as awkward as possible and refuse to hold up your end of the talky-bit.

3. Even worse, walk up WHILE THE WRITER IS WRITING and attempt to make awkward conversation.

4. Try to stare over the writer's shoulder to see what's on the screen. For extra points, ask her what she's writing.

5. For a billion bonus points, stare, ask, and then tell her all about the book you're going to write some day and ask for "pointers" or her agent's name.

6. Every so slightly block her way. Whether it's with your body, your stroller, or a grocery cart, make sure that she has to squint really hard to see if she can squeeze by. She'll be transfixed by the space issue, trying to gauge how much she can bump you and still manage to run away without making eye contact.

7. When she's staring intently into space or scribbling madly on the back of the receipt with the light of inspiration in her eyes, ask her something inane that you should know for yourself, such as the time or weather. When she mutters or shakes her head or holds up a desperate finger, ask louder.

8. Walk up to tell the writer that you didn't like her book. Tell her what was wrong with the characters and plot. Tell her what you would have done better or make suggestions for the next book.

9. Walk up with your laptop and stare at the full plug-in like the feverishly typing writer is suddenly going to unplug and walk away. When she doesn't, hover over her and ask something extremely wishy-washy, like "Can we switch?" or "Are you using that?" instead of just saying something refreshing like, "I know it's really annoying, but can I plug in for a minute?" When the writer is too flummoxed/busy to do more than mutter "Fine," unplug her cord, leave it on the floor, plug in your Mac, and proceed to have a really loud phone conversation while you surf the web for new shoes. (YES, THIS IS ODDLY SPECIFIC FOR A REASON, WOMAN WHO DID THIS TO ME YESTERDAY.)

10. If the writer's book launched more than one week ago, ask when her next book is out and insinuate that she's not working very hard/writing fast enough. Say something like, "Wow, a year? It takes you that long to write a book?" or "Huh. I guess your publisher doesn't think you had the chops for a tight schedule." Then tell the writer how many words per minute you type and how big your IDEAS folder is.

11. Ask if you can borrow a pen. When she says she only has one, don't give it back.

12. Ask her if she has any books with her. When she presents one, ask if you can have it. Don't offer to pay for it or ask her how much. for bonus points, open it up, crack the spine, and hand it back, saying you'll get it at the library or borrow it for Kindle.


Did I miss any?


Pinafores and Pinwheels said...

I think I've done a few of those.... (hides face in embarrassment)

delilah s. dawson said...

You're okay, because we're tight. I'm talking about near strangers, here. Anyone who has fed me Rice Krispy Treats and made half my costumes is exempt. <3

Lexi H said...

Ahahaha, picturing a woman unplugging you. I would be dumbfounded.

Maggie B said...


A comprehensive list that sent me running for cover.