What We Talk About When We Talk About Writing

What We Talk About When We Talk About Writing

Hipster Dude: “so, like you’re a writer?”
Me: “ah, yeah.”
HD: “so, like what’d you write?”
Me: “a memoir.”
HD: “so, like what’s it about?”
Me: “heroin, dysfunctional junkie love, bank robberies.”
HD: “so, it’s like a movie script?”
Me: “ah, no…”
HD: “so, like you didn’t make it up?”
Me: “it’s a memoir.”
HD: “so, it’s like real life?”
Me: “ah, yeah.”
HD: “so, like who was the junkie?”
Me: “me.”
HD: “so, like who did the bank robberies?”
Me: “me.”
HD: “so, like wow.”
Me: “…”
HD: “so, like what’s your next book?”
Me: “a memoir on how I saved mankind from extinction.”
Hd: “so, like you’ve lived an amazing life.”
Me: “I’m like a saint, and shit.”
HD: “so, like wow.”

Scruffy Poet: “you moved to LA?”
Me: “yeah, like over ten years ago.”
SP: “oh man, didn’t know that…”
Me: “that’s alright, didn’t send out announcements.”
SP: “what’s it like down there?”
Me: “it’s great. Sunny and shit.”
SP: “no, meant the literary scene.”
Me: “that was the ‘great’ part.”
SP: “really? Always considered LA a cultural void.”
Me: “unlike this mecca of creativity?”
SP: “well, we do have The Beats.”
Me: “who are you, The Go Go’s?”
SP: “and Dave Eggers.”
Me: “wow, hard to compete with all that.”
SP: “well, yeah, I guess it is.”
Me: “um… so how’s the poet business going?”
SP: “poetry is not a business…”
Me: “I was joking.”
SP: “oh, ha ha. Have you seen my new chapbook?”
Me: “no, I must have missed it.”
SP: “it’s my ode to our diminishing environment.”
Me: “um… how ah… cultural.”
SP: “hand printed on tree bark and stitched with hemp…”
Me: “back to the basics, eh?”
SP: “made the ink out of dung beetles.”
Me: “you killed the environment to make your book?”
SP: “all the materials were scavenged.”
Me: “wow, you’re a nutter, huh?”
SP: “I’m totally committed to this issue.”
Me: “you should be committed to the nut ward.”
SP: “you’re very cynical.”
Me: “LA will do that to you.”

Hipster Woman Writer: “you write in French?”
Me: “ah, no. I don’t.”
HWW: “but your book is in French.”
Me: “oh, yeah. I had a book published in France.”
HWW: “how does that work?”
Me: “it was translated.”
HWW: “from?”
Me: “English.”
HWW: “so you wrote it in English?”
Me: “well, yeah, it’s really the only language I know.”
HWW: “and then someone translated it to French?”
Me: “why is this so hard for you to grasp?”
HWW: “just don’t understand why.”
Me: “because my publisher was French.”
HWW: “they don’t read English?”
Me: “they do, that’s how they read my manuscript, but it was published in France.”
HWW: “so, it can’t be in English?”
Me: “no.”
HWW: “why not?”
Me: “people in France read French.”
HWW: “that’s stupid.”

Slightly Inebriated Poet: “wow, great piece of writing.”
Me: “ah, thanks.”
SIP: “your protagonist, so venerable.”
Me: “um…”
SIP: “what was the significance of his duality of selfs?”
Me: “say what?”
SIP: “the juxtaposition of his realities, brilliant, but why?”
Me: “juxta… huh?”
SIP: “such conflict in your narrative arch. Life is your muse, no?”
Me: “life is a motherfucker.”
SIP: “well said! Still channeling the underclass I see.”
Me: “force of habit.”
SIP: “a modern day Sartre in our midst.”
Me: “wouldn’t say that. Awfully hard shoes to fill.”
SIP: “you are too modest, sir.”
Me: “no, I’m just not a pretentious ass.”
SIP: “ah ha ha, so what’s next monsieur wordsmith?”
Me: “bestiality porn scripts and copy writing for adult diapers TV ads.”
SIP: “really?”
Me: “gotta stay fresh, baby. Gotta stay fresh.”

Annoying Writer: “hey dude, how’s it going?”
Me: “ah, ok.”
AW: “writing?”
Me: “ah, yeah.”
AW: “what are you working on?”
Me: “um, things, ah, sorta like… ah, stuff.”
AW: “what’s that mean?”
Me: “means I’m writing, but not all the time.”
AW: “oh, ok. So when are you writing?”
Me: “like, ahhhh… when I can.”
AW: “oh, got it. So, it’s a time constraint issue.”
Me: “no, it’s just… why all the questions?”
AW: “trying to understand your process.”
Me: “nice. How’s this? I write, then I don’t.”
AW: “my friend, you need a schedule.”
Me: “I do?”
AW: “can’t just go about life unstructured.”
Me: “I can’t?”
AW: “try implementing a strict regime, schedule time to be creative.”
Me: “ah, you know strict isn’t really what I do.”
AW: “no? What is?”
Me: “loose, sort of manic driven. Write when it hits me.”
APW: “oh my god, you’re out of control.”
Me: “huh? Hey, it’s my process.”
AW: “what time is your alarm set for in the morning?”
Me: “what alarm?”
AW: “you do get up the same time everyday, right?”
Me: “wrong.”
APW: “how can you be so disorganized?”
Me: “oh shit, here, let me pencil you into my day planner.”
AW: “I just can’t work with you.”
Me: “didn’t know we were working.”

Overly Tense Poet: “um, nice reading.”
Me: “ah, thanks.”
OTP: “are you, ah… depressed?”
Me: “right now? No.”
OTP: “but your writing is so…”
Me: “depressing?”
OTP: “um, no, it’s…”
Me: “disturbing?”
OTP: “well, yes, but not so much that as…”
Me: “what, you don’t like the subject matter?”
OTP: “no, it’s your language…”
Me: “I have language?”
OTP: “the way you use it…”
Me: “um… yeah?”
OTP: “like you write with ah… butcher knife.”
Me: “what the fuck does that mean?”
OTP: “you’re killing the words, it’s murder.”
Me: “ah, killing, murder, really?”
OTP: “you don’t like your mother, do you?”
Me: “didn’t read anything about my mother.”
OTP: “bet she didn’t breast feed you.”
Me: “you’re like a total whacko, huh?”
OTP: “sure, go ahead, get angry, truth hurts.”
Me: “whose truth you talking about?”
OTP: “I see a darkness in you, screaming to get out.”
Me: “does that darkness have the butcher knife?”
OTP: “I don’t know? Why?”
Me: “because if it does, you should start running.”

Self Obsessing Poet: “hi, you look authentic, like a local.”
Me: “um… not even sure how to react to that.”
SOP: “I just love LA, it’s so… authentic.”
Me: “so you said. Recently move here, did you?”
SOP: “from Brooklyn.”
Me: “of course.”
SOP: “suppose you surf, do yoga, run the reservoir…?”
Me: “well one out of three, I guess.”
SOP: “I need to find a good Pilates studio in Silver Lake.”
Me: “sorry, not the guy for that.”
SOP: “really miss my mat class in Williamsburg.”
Me: “uh huh, imagine you do.”
SOP: “saw me read, right?”
Me: “yeah, that was me in the front row.”
SOP: “always try to personalize my readings with attendees.”
Me: “well, we actually shared a moment.”
SOP: “really? That’s so genuine.”
Me: “that line in your poem, about being dissatisfied?”
SOP: “I can always identify a dissatisfied person?”
Me: “yeah that one, and then you locked eyes with me.”
SOP: “I use intense eye contact, project the poem’s aura.”
Me: “well, we were in complete simpatico there.”
SOP: “really? How sagacious.”
Me: “yeah, you identified the right person.”
SOP: “that is so profound.”
Me: “that’s what I was thinking.”
SOP: “thank you for being so authentic.”
Me: “it’s the least I could do, welcome to LA.”

Hollywood Screen Writer: “so, what’s your book about?”
Me: “a junkie bankrobber.”
HSW: “yeah, what’s the creative direction?”
Me: “excuse me?”
HSW: “how did you develop your narrative?”
Me: “um… its a memoir, I lived it.”
HSW: “really? So, it’s based on a true story?”
Me: “ah, not based on, it is, ah, was… my fucking life.”
HSW: “so you’re the emotional impact?”
Me: “the what?”
HSW: “the delivery vehicle!”
Me: “are we speaking the same language?”
HSW: “you’re the hero facing insurmountable odds!”
Me: “if it makes you feel better to categorize it that way, sure.”
HSW: “look, you have to have the basics; character, desire, conflict!”
Me: “ah, you’re gettin’ a little worked up, quit yelling.”
HSW: “there has to be a compelling objective!”
Me: “ok, ok, calm down.”
HSW: ‘there are rules, you know!”
Me: “having a rough day, are we?”
HSW: “pitched a pilot this morning, barbarians!”
Me: “I assume it didn’t go well?”
HSW: “gave them the new Cheers, they wanted a funnier This Is Us!”
Me: “wow, your compelling objective faced insurmountable odds.”
HSW: “oh, shut the fuck up!”


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