Possessing the “Look” of a Writer

Long Hair Photo

That’s me in the foreground, not the back.

My friends often tell me how I don’t always fit the profile of an aspiring author. They say that I’m missing certain “criteria” as it pertains to being a writer. This picture may be proof of that, no? Well, it’s not that I’m uneducated, or that I’m from the Midwest, or that I have a slight love affair with giant squids (those animals are amazing, aren’t they?!); no, it’s the other aspects of my life that seem to be lacking in their eyes. I’ve spent some time compiling their various reasons and I have placed the top 3 below.

So here we go.

A) A long, scraggly beard – Writers are sometimes viewed as being unkempt. That means we tend to neglect certain facets of our hygiene; the most noticeable being our hair. We are so focused on our writing – a process by which we hope will aid in shaping the world and solving various theories of the universe – that we forget to shave. In the olden times, when scribes were dipping their quills in ink, shaving must have not been very important on the morning “to-do” list. Famous writers like Mark Twain, Henry David Thoreau, Socrates; these guys sported some hefty facial hair. Norelco and Gillette weren’t around back then, but these guys could have at least picked up a cleaver and done a halfway decent hack job to their beards. And yes, I am well aware that there are female authors too – I just didn’t really feel like going there on this one.
B) I don’t do drugs – This is an interesting one. Geoffrey Chaucer once stated, “People can die of mere imagination”, and I couldn’t agree more. A short trip on a foreign substance could lead to a balcony leap or something equally foolish in pursuit of an original idea. I’d rather suffer through a few writer’s blocks than dip my tongue in acid for some inspiration. Besides, and I quote Geoffrey again, – “All human activity lies within the artist’s scope”; so basically, just living amongst people will give a writer everything he’ll ever need to write about. Or at least provide him with something to get him started. The rest is up to the creator.
C) Lastly, I don’t isolate myself – As much as I’ve enjoyed having my own apartment, I don’t really love the “living alone” thing. It’s alienating and can be depressing at times. To alleviate this, I like to have some company when I can. But even more so, I’ll leave my apartment to be sociable, thereby being active in my pursuit of companionship. If you look at some of history’s great writers, you may not get the same picture. Henry David Thoreau was famous for his cabin in the woods; a place he went to for solidarity and quiet so he could better focus on his work. As much as that intrigues me, I don’t foresee myself doing that anytime soon. But hey, you never know….

When you look at these stereotypes, I suppose you could say that I don’t really measure up. Yes, there are several modern writers who don’t fit this this bill either so I suppose there’s hope for me yet. I’ve done my best to find a picture that would accurately, and adequately, showcase me as “fitting the description” so there you have it. I’m obviously lacking in facial hair. That much is certain. And you’ll notice that another person had to have taken the picture (hence filling the “social” criteria). The only thing in question is my expression, I figure. And I may appear to be somewhat homeless. The hair on my head could have been harboring a nest of birds, but I don’t recall that ever being the case so we’re good there too. Granted, this photo was taken about eight years ago so it’s not exactly current, but you get the idea.

Maybe one day though, right? Then I’ll know I’ve “made it” as a writer. When the world tells me who I am – I’ll know what I’m meant for. That’s the goal, correct? Well, that answer is no, absolutely not. If the world tells me that I’m to be unclean, a user, and an alienated man – then I’ll know that I’ve lost my focus. However, if I’m called to suffer a few trials then sure, I’ll do my best to see it through (minus all the hygiene troubles, of course). The last thing I’d want is to be just another guy whose selfish rebellion against himself skewed his own perception as to what he was meant for.

At which point I’ll reluctantly put that sweatshirt back on and sit in a pit of despair as I await divine inspiration. Come to think of it though, if I still have that hoodie, I’m donating it to charity right away. That and my hair if it ever gets that long again. No doubt about that.


  1. Fantastic! You are acutely self-aware. That is a writers trait. Anticipating the soon to be next release!

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