Are You a “REAL” Writer or Just “Harriet The Spy?”


writing-meme-3Remember the children’s book where an eleven-year-old aspiring writer named Harriet carries around a notebook in which she feverishly jots down personal observations about her classmates, (and the moment-by-moment events that happen to her) in the hopes that one day this practice will assist her in achieving a “real” writing career?

In fact, Harriet WAS already a real writer and WE are all Harriets.  Now here’s how to convince everyone else in your life to view you that way, so you can get the respect all writers deserve.

9 EASY WAYS TO BE THOUGHT OF AS A RESPECTABLE WRITER BY YOUR FRIENDS AND FAMILY

  1. Forget that the IRS differentiates between writing as a hobby and writing professionally. Everyone knows that IRS actually stands for “Inside Reality Sometimes.” They should recognize everyone as professional writers — how else are we able to pick up a pen and WRITE down the required information in the blank spots on their W-2 forms?!
  2. When someone says to you (in that challenging voice) “If you’re a writer, prove it by showing me something you have published,” you have three choices. 1. LOGIC. Simply retort, “Prove I’m NOT a writer by showing me something that I have NOT published. 2. PSEUDONYM. Tell them your material is highly controversial (and racy!) and thus you prefer to write under an alias. If they press you for your Pen Name, tell them it’s either “Bic, Papermate, or Sharpie.” 3. ANONYMOUS.  Google famous writings that are not credited to any particular author. You’ll have numerous bodies of work available to brag about penning. Just off the top of my head, there’s The Diary of a U-boat Commander or The Debate Between Bird and Fish or think really big and lay claim to The New Testament, (other than the authentic Epistles of Paul.)
  3. People might ask, “Well you may be a writer, but are you an actual author? And what’s the difference anyhow?”  First look askance. Practice this expression dutifully as both writers AND authors need to be able to look ‘askance’ in just a quick glance. Next sigh under your breath, “Hah. Mere semantics!”  Don’t leave out the “mere” part of this response because their shame in asking the question in the first place won’t be nearly as copious. “Copious” is another word you can bat about. Then pause to jot something important down in the notebook you always carry around with you (right, Harriet??) and never look up again. The something important can be, “Buy fat-free sour cream.”
  4. Talk about working on Rough Drafts a lot. Why are they so rough? Elaborate on that. Boast that after you finish your rough draft, you’ll then need to start on a Tough Draft. Non-writers will nod with empathy, but other writers will see thru this nonsense and call you on it. But you don’t care because you know they’re just furious with you for claiming to have written The Debate Between Bird and Fish before they could.
  5. Put memes about writing on Facebook at least twice a week. Here’s a good one.writing-meme-4Because everyone always knows that real authors create characters that take on a life of their own. And man is that scary! Have you ever had a death threat from a guy you invented who wears a striped hood and goes by “Will Billy Williams?” I mean his first, middle, and last names are all really the same thing! Eek!
  6. Writers earn awards. They may be obscure but nevertheless they can be totally legit. Take my award for example –lots of people questioned if it was actually real.19510369_10155431909612603_8281710292314964876_n That means the opposite will hold true. You can create your own bogus award and nobody will even bat an eye. Just make sure to frame it and have someone hang it prominently. Tip: The more colored mats you put around it, the bigger the frame it will fit into and the more wall space you’ll occupy in your mother’s living room.
  7. If you want lots of people to hire you to write for them, you should give yourself the title of “Freelance Writer.” That means nobody has to pay you to lance their boils while they read your stuff. This is a huge benefit to them. Just don’t go overboard and call yourself “Lancelot” because people will only hire you to write at knight.
  8. Ghost Writer! If there’s still nobody that’s buying that you’re a writer, you need to resort to being a Ghost Writer. First of all, talking about your haunted keyboard will be enough to get you booked on Dr. Phil and when you read your stuff aloud in coffee shops during open mic nights and people “Boo” you — well that will be especially fitting, won’t it??
  9. If all else fails, you can change your name to Louise Fitzhugh, the author of Harriet the Spy and the wonderful woman I owe a debt of gratitude for inciting my lifelong passion for writing as a little girl.

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15 thoughts on “Are You a “REAL” Writer or Just “Harriet The Spy?”

  1. Great post, as usual! It was fun to hear that other people were also inspired to write by reading “Harriet the Spy”. I read that book when I was about 8 and it affected me powerfully. I worried my mom to insanity until she bought me a little tiny notebook. Then I walked around the neighborhood “observing” people. I even wrote in Harriet’s style. I wrote such gems as, “My neighbor is always talking to his dog. Think about this.” I even drew a little picture of it for effect. I had forgotten how much that book inspired me to become a writer. Thanks for the trip down memory lane! And also for the great tips for dealing with non-believers!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Haha, loved the tips, and yeah, Harriet the Spy really struck a chord with me when I was ten or eleven years old and making up my own stories on my electric typewriter. Thankfully now I don’t have to pretend to be a published author, I actually am! It’s been about twenty years in the making but I’m finally having a story published in a literary journal. It’s probably considered a small step by other people but it’s huge for me because I’m my own worst enemy when it comes to letting other people read my stuff.

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