Thursday, December 06, 2007

How lame do you have to be to wear this hat?

I had to buy genuine Acco brand brass brads (#5) last year to hold together my screenplay because Hollywood can't read scripts held together with anything less. Staples only carries the bullshit brads which meant I had to order mine through The Writer's Store.

That put me on The Writer's Store mailing list. Yesterday I got their catalog chock full of writerly stuff. For instance, I considered spending $400 for software that will finish this damn book until I realized I'd still have to finish this damn book.

But it's nice to fantasize that Final Draft will really make my next screenplay better, or The Writer's Guide to Character Traits will make my people leap off the page with all sorts of loveable quirks and idiosyncrasies.

But, I'm guessing that if you need a book of traits to give your characters life then maybe you should try another line of work.

Perhaps I'm being harsh.

Or maybe there are more people making more money selling crap to aspiring writers than there are writers actually making enough money to justify dropping $250 on Truby's Blockbuster 5.0 or 20 bucks on Great Dialogue which promises to help you write great dialogue. But again, if you need a book to help you capture the music of your characters' speech, maybe you should stay in school and get that accounting degree after all.

You can probably tell that I'm not a big fan of these things. I read Donald Maas' book, Writing the Breakthrough Novel, and I liked it well enough to recommend it recently. Although looking at the Amazon Reviews, perhaps I'm as big a patsy as anyone else.

Still, I'm not such a schmuck that I'd wear a goddamn hat that says "Writer" on it.

There's a great line from the criminally overlooked movie, Hearts of the West. In it, veteran screen writer Andy Griffith tells a struggling young Jeff Bridges that "You're not a writer until someone else calls you a writer."

And you're certainly not a writer because you spent 10 bucks on a fucking hat. You might as well wear one that says "Turd."

Now that I think about it, I'd probably wear that hat.

I'm not talking about books like King's On Writing or Lamott's Bird by Bird. I'm talking about books that promise to make you a better writer. Do you think they work? Do you think people actually benefit from writing software, books and stupid fucking hats?

Talk to me.


Bill Crider said...

Hearts of the West is a great movie. Glad to see somebody else remembers it.

I wouldn't wear the hat. I wouldn't have a card that says "Writer" on it, either.

Graham Powell said...

I actually didn't care for Bird by Bird. The best writing book I have read is Self Editing for Fiction Writers. It had a lot of nuts-and-bolts info.

Anonymous said...

The hat is a riot. How hard up for recognition do you have to be to wear that thing.

I mean a "real" writer would have don what I did and ponied up the extra $15.00 for the tee-shirt.

Tom in Sarasota

Beneath the Carolina Moon said...

Since I write regulations for a governmental agency, I'd just as soon wear a hat that said IRS and had a bulls eye on the back.

JD Rhoades said...

The only books on writing that don't bore me to tears are Lawrence Block's TELLING LIES FOR FUN AND PROFIT and Stephen King's ON WRITING. On your suggestion, though, I think I'll check out the Maas book.

And I have the horrible feeling I'm getting that hat for Christmas.

Anonymous said...

Is wearing the hat any better or worse than sitting in a coffee shop hunched over your laptop, nursing one large container of coffee for hours and looking seriously important because you're the only in the world writing the great novel?


David Terrenoire said...


That depends on whether you're on deadline.

Some of our most accomplished friends write in coffee shops, but ordinarily, I agree that this kind of public posturing is on par with wearing that stupid hat.

Becca said...

Well damn. I guess I have to take your Christmas present back. But where to find a Turd hat ...

Beneath the Carolina Moon said...

I have one I got last Christmas Becca, you can have it; it being for a good cause and all.

Jerry said...

Everyone should have at least one hat that they can wear when they're out and about, or several if they need them. If I could afford it I'd buy each and everyone of you one that fits your profile.
You can get them made to say just about anything.
"Not just another artist hanging out in a coffee shop" would be mine.

pattinase (abbott) said...

The recent Walter Mosley book on how to write a book in one year had some insights, but King's is my favorite. Lamott became too self-satisfied in "being saved" at some point.

John McFetridge said...

Any more than Elmore Leonard's ten rules and it's too complicated for me.

And I was a writer on a couple of low budget movies and I could have used the hat so people would stop giving me sandbags to weigh down c-stands. Oh hell, who am I kidding, they just would have given me heavier stuff to carry.

Patricia V said...

I sit in a Barnes and Nobel as I read this. Far from feeling self-important, I feel sheepish that I want the life around me to stimulate me. It's harder to screw around when you're here with a definite purpose--althugh here I am wasting time online.

Anonymous said...

I don't think this hat is meant to be worn in public. I have recently considered purchasing this hat not because I want to parade it around town.

I though about buying this hat because like most of you I work from home. Sometimes it is a struggle to keep focused on what you are supposed to be doing when you sit at your computer. I thought I might trick my conscious mind into knowing I should be writing by wearing this hat. So that way even though I'm at home I can more than figuratively wear the writers hat to keep focused.

It's just a thought but some people use different tools than others. I figure anything that can keep me focused long enough to finish a story would be good.

But I agree to wear this hat anywhere else would be saying Hey look at me I'm a shmuck.

Jeremy - Dunedin