Five Thoughts About People Who Write


Are writers psychopaths? I don’t know, psychopathy bespeaks a level of focus and determination that one does not normally associate with writers (I mean, not the “good” ones). But some study shows that “creative people have psychopathic personality traits,” so sure, why the hell not, let’s say yes. But what else can you say about writers? We have gathered a collection of assessments from unbiased observers who have spent many years considering the question, and here are just a few conclusions:

• “Most writers are a seemingly impossible mix of neediness, self-importance and insecurity. It should not be shocking that someone who has decided their expertise is so invaluable that everyone else is waiting for them to weigh in on a subject — these are frequently the kind of people who tell you that they have to write, it’s not a choice or an option for them, it’s something that they must do for they can do no other etc. — would prize the earthshaking events of their own life that helped develop their unique, inestimable voice as highly as (if not more highly than) the ostensible subject which they are using as a jumping-off point to tell you more about themselves…”

• “Why are writers so hideous? Opinions differ, with one theory suggesting that ‘ugly on the inside = ugly on the outside’ but my personal hypothesis is that normal-looking people are busy actually doing things while the grotesque and frightening can only observe, and those foul wretches develop these skills into a talent, if that is a word you want to use, for writing, which, with the decline of the traveling freakshow, is really the only career path open to society’s most repulsive-looking monsters.”

• “The astounding level of self-regard it takes for someone to call himself a writer, let alone set out to put his idiot thoughts on paper with the expectation that they will be both read and welcomed is a better argument against Darwin’s theory of evolution that any Bible-thumping evangelist could ever dream of. Fuck writers. I mean, not literally, they are unfuckable. The only thing that they are worse at than sex is writing about sex.”

• “Contemporary fiction is… the logical result of awarding advanced degrees for professionalized navel gazing to people whose fragile, precious gift precludes them from doing any other kind of work.”

• “Nobody needs to be a writer. Nobody. I can certainly understand the appeal of not doing physical labor or toiling in a field in which your brain is not fully engaged but there is no human need to be a writer. I get it, you have thoughts, you feel the world should share them, you like attention, you don’t want to do something else that is probably harder and less affirming of how special your sensitivities are, but you know what? The world will somehow get along without your deep and knowing interpretations of what we mean when we say something or what is conveyed when we stare into the middle distance or how our titanic struggles with existence are often played out in the smallest and most quotidian of ways. Someone else will eventually say it, and probably better. What the world needs, frankly, is for everyone who needs to be a writer to shut the fuck up for a while (I ask for a year but I would settle for six months) and do some real fucking work and maybe look around and realize just how worthless their insights into our sad doomed lives really are.”

Gosh, I’m convinced. Writers really are terrible. I think psychopaths might want to make sure that this study doesn’t lead to negative associations on their part. You can imagine how embarrassing that would be.