By Crystal Crawford
Last Friday, Halloween 2014, The Mochila Review staff joined Dr. Marianne Kunkel, Editor-in-Chief, at her house for lunch. Though there were no frights to be had, the staff arrived very much in character and ready for some delicious treats.
Prior to the luncheon, each staff member was assigned a reading from Betsy Lerner’s The Forest For the Trees: And Editor’s Advice to Writers. Each chapter described a different type of writer that an editor might encounter. Everyone arrived knowing only their writer type, and were ready to play their part. As the luncheon commenced, the writers dined on magnificent lasagna, salad, and rolls and acted out their writer types.
The Ambivalent Writer: The ambivalent writer is always struck with ideas. The whisper of the wind or the beauty of a walking path decorated in autumn leaves stops them, strikes them with inspiration, and prompts the perfect flow of words… words that are never written down. The ambivalent writer is inspired by anything and everything, has a plethora of ideas and projects, but is a master of procrastination. Many of their projects are never finished or, even worse, never started. They often switch between short stories, poetry, novels, or whatever else seems appealing that day/week/month. This could be due to a lack of confidence or attention, but it’s also likely that the ambivalent writer just hasn’t found their niche yet. Lerner advises this writer to first find that one niche, and that one project, and focus on it. While it’s possible for a writer to succeed in more than one area, it’s important to find the niche they are strongest in and focus the majority of their efforts there. This was my character, and throughout the afternoon, I looked for anything that would spark an idea. I talked about all of the different story ideas, and how I just couldn’t decide which one to really pursue. Which one would people actually want to read? Which one was worth exploring? What if I went for the wrong idea? I would perk up when someone said something particularly poetic or inspiring, and say, “Oh! That gives me an idea! I’ll have to write that down later!” though, of course, I never did. This character wasn’t so much a stretch for me. As a writer with ADHD and terrible confidence in my ability, I find myself always second-guessing my current project.
The Self-Promoter: You probably know a few of these writer types. They are quite proud of their achievement. Whether they’ve self-published or went through a publisher, they are constantly soliciting everyone they encounter to check their most recent work. These types often have an author’s page on Facebook and/or Twitter, and yet still promote their book on their personal page as well. These types can often be considered annoying or perhaps even full of themselves. But there is something to admire in someone who has enough confidence and pride in their work to put it out there for all to see. Lindsey played this character, and was sure to direct us all to her Facebook and Twitter pages to find information on her latest works. She always waited until there was an opening in a conversation that such an invitation would be welcome. The group agreed that this was tasteful way to promote oneself. “Oh, you’re interested in the fantasy genre? You should check out my book! I think you’ll like it!”
The Natural: The Natural develops a fascination with language at an early age. They use words in order to, hopefully, approach an understanding of the world and how it works. Others might think the Natural as selfish, since they are often too absorbed in thought to engage with others. Because of this, the Natural is also considered a social misfit. Nicole played her part by being rather quiet and reserved. Though she wasn’t busy externally, she remained quite busy internally. She watched the interactions of others, but didn’t interact herself, beyond what was required.
The Wild Child: The best way to describe the wild child is to liken them to a rebel. The wild child seems to have a difficult time trying to figure out the point of life. They are often trying to break away from rules and what is percieved to be the “safe” route. Chris demonstrated this by acting rather dark and broody. When asked about what he was currently working on, he responded, “What’s the point? What’s the point of it all?” He even wore a shirt that he got in High School, but his mother wouldn’t wear him wear out of the house because of the language insinuated by the letters “EC F’N W”.
Touhing Fire: This was more of a category describing various writer-types, such as those with psychological disorders and those with drug addictions or drinking problems. Often, the substance abuse and the psychological disorders go hand-in-hand. One of these types may feel it is necessary for them to use drugs or alcohol in order to stimulate their creativity. These types are either superbly productive, cranking out material like a rabbit at the peak of its heat cycle, or their productivity drops off altogether. There is rarely anything in between. Sometimes, if the work produced is strongly sought after, an editor may take the time and effort to work with this type of writer and get them the help they need, whether that help is psychological, an effort to help the writer kick their addiction, or both. However, these types of cases often end with the writer being dropped, as the amount of work that goes into working with them is not deemed worth it. This character was quite a stretch for Adriann, who neither suffers from psychological disorders nor does she have issues with substance abuse.
The Neurotic: The Neurotic is a very paranoid type of writer, who is often in a constant state of belief that something is wrong with their ideas and that no one will like their work. They have a tendency to get sick when they are writing, usually due to the stress of constantly second-guessing themselves. Hanna played her part by talking about how sick she’d been, how she just wasn’t sure if anyone was going to like anything she’d written and how she wasn’t sure her ideas were worth continuing.