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If You’re a Creative Writer, You're a Jerk. Own It.

On my computer, on one page of an Excel spreadsheet, there’s a list of blog post topics I’d either like to eventually write about or once thought I wanted to write about. Added up, they number 32, which is a decent amount to scroll through, much less address.

Some days, I don’t need that list, since I know exactly what I want to write about. That was definitely the case with last Monday’s blog post, “Save Money on an Editor With This Major Manuscript-Editing Trick.

But last night, staring blankly at my computer screen at 7:12 in the evening, I definitely needed some inspiration. So I consulted my list, only to find not one but two suggestions that centered around being a jerk:

  1. My mother is worried I’m being a jerk to one of my villains in Flights of Fancy

  2. Creative writers, you’re jerks. Just own up to it already.

Now, Mom has only been critiquing the not-yet-published Flights of Fancy, the final installment in the Faerietales series, for the last few weeks. And “Creative writers, you’re jerks. Just own up to it already” is listed several slots under it.

So I’m kind of wondering if she inspired both of them. Or, put another way, I’m wondering if I was inspired to write about the topic of being a jerk by observing her reading my work. Twice.

Either way, I suppose it means I’m a definite jerk. At least according to my mother.

If she was reading this, she’d yell at me. And in all fairness, she’d be right to, since stating what I just stated paints her in a rather bad light.

She’s honestly a wonderful mom who’s insightful and brilliant and helpful, hence the reason why I asked her to critique Flights of Fancy in the first place. She’s an alpha-level beta reader who will give me some great insights to work off of before I send the manuscript to my editor.

It’s just that she gets a little too attached to the fictional characters I create, constantly worrying that I’m going to kill one of them or make one of them suffer.

Admittedly, she has some reason to worry along those lines, since I have killed off characters once or twice, and I do routinely make them suffer. As such, I fully recognize that I’m a bit of a jerk.

I mean, how can I not recognize that? I’ve put them through some pretty nasty paces before. Depending on the manuscript or novel, I’ve broken my characters’ poor little fictional hearts and/or mentally terrified them and/or emotionally compromised them and/or physically abused them and/or spiritually tormented them.

Pretty jerky, right?

Then again, I wouldn’t be much of a creative writer if I didn’t dump that drama on them. Being a jerk is simply part of a creative writer’s job.

If you’re writing a story, you can have the happiest ending ever – in which case, I’ll fully support you. I like happy endings, after all. Most of us do. We like to see the good guys and gals win, the bad guys and gals go splat, and true love prevail.

But we also like to see drama proceed those happy endings. Lots and lots of drama. As readers, we want our heroes and heroines to have to work for it.

I could theorize and analyze all day about why we real-life humans don’t appreciate made-up stories that come together too easily. However, the bottom line is that we don’t.

So readers, including my wonderful and seriously much-appreciated mom, just accept the fact that you wouldn’t love us so much if we didn’t twist your emotions a bit. And creative writers, own up to the fact that, yes, you’re a little bit of a jerk.



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