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writers behaving badly.

February 4, 2011

there was a prompt frm the CBC books stranger than fiction competition about BAD BEHAVIOUR. they want people to write about how writers are wicked. more wicked than other people. i read the email and put it aside, and then thought about it all through yoga class today. here you can take a look at the competition here.

when i speak of “writers” i am speaking about my colleagues in the program i’m in. UBC’s writing program is interesting (and maybe different from other writing programs) in that it is two years with the summers off. that’s a long time to be spending with other people. i’ve gotten to know the people around me very well – TOO WELL sometimes sorry guys – and vice versa.

wicked is an interesting word. do i think that the people in my program are mean-spirited? no. i believe that every one of them is a good person, has a good core, often means well. but wicked has an odder, lusher meaning to me – sinful. something along the lines of sinful. that when one does wicked things, they sin and they break commandments and they like it.


are writers wicked? yes. YES they are. the wickedness runs rampant in so many ways:

writers are deranged. i can be the first to say that – to admit that. i am a little off-kilter. i always have been. i’ve had three different therapists throughout my life for my depression and anxiety. i have a rejection phobia. i can be too much of a perfectionist. i don’t let things go. i can become obsessed with subjects and themes and ideas. sometimes i’m agoraphobic. i don’t want to leave my house, and interacting even with a yoga teacher or a grocery store clerk can really be forcing it, make me feel really uncomfortable. so many of my creative friends are cyclothymic – go through really intense mood swings, scary mood swings. there has been a lethe of tears from us. but it’s okay.

writers are drunks. okay that is an overstatement for sure, but i partied harder in my first year in the MFA than i did in my third and fourth year of undergrad combined. my fiction class would literally drink from 3 pm to 3 am on some tuesdays. there are other substances that are used (perhaps not abused because that is a judgment statement) amongst the people in our program – uppers, downers, sleeping pills, sedatives, etc. i’ve written about writers having substance abuse issues before – take a look at faulkner, at coleridge, at thompson, hello it runs rampant it’s not rare – and i think it’s connected to the creative brain which might also be connected to mental illness. somehow it’s all related. we bring mickeys of whisky into poetry readings.

writers fall in love. with things and with people.we give our hearts away when we shouldn’t. and writers date other writers! and this is not a good idea. i’ve never dated a writer, can’t say that it’s high on my list, now i know why i was so attracted to linebackers for so long i needed an opposite energy. because it can go two ways: 1) that person understands your need to get out of bed at 3 am and turn on your computer to write or 2) the two of you scream at each other, lie on the floor, drink your brains out, and are competitive. those are big extremes. writers date other writers and then get sad and angry when it doesn’t work out. and writers don’t get laid, which is the most wicked thing of all. because we sit at home and write a lot. well i guess some writers do. maybe poets do. they are pretty sexy.

writers abuse. this is something that i am equally guilty of. writers put other people into their writing (sometimes just) to get a good story or a great poem or an amazing article or a scoop. we reduce people to characters, to pieces of the body, to a trait, and we plaster them on the page, willy nilly, sometimes not caring about feelings. and it’s a tough line to walk, this, because often the most beautiful or successful or meaningful or unique pieces come from this literary abuse of other people, so where is the line drawn? at what point does it become unacceptable? it’s a tough one. some writers might spend their lives alone because they are constantly offending other people, breaking up their own friendships.


i’m a wicked person. i’ve come to reconcile myself with that fact a long time ago. i’m a wicked person and a lapsed catholic, nothing good is happening here. i like to think that deep down i care – and i do, which is evident in the way i hate conflict i cannot STAND fighting i hate getting into arguments with people it makes me hurt – but deep down i also know that sometimes my morals are going to be a little different than the “normal population”. i know i’m offensive. i know i push boundaries and i don’t always react the best to criticism. i know i speak loudly and that sometimes i write about people that i shouldn’t, but i love what i do and i have to learn to love the consequences. all i can do is try to be the best at what i do and see what comes from there. right?


behaving badly on a beach.


3 Comments leave one →
  1. February 5, 2011 10:32 pm

    there is no such thing as a person who shouldnt be written about. so own it.

    when i cease to bring mickeys of whisky into poetry readings please put me out of my misery.

  2. February 5, 2011 10:32 pm

    sorry im not sure if that made any sense, i think im high again.

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