The Odd Writer

Image of black stoneware cup

I was 21, about to graduate from college and set up my own household, you know, with a sofa that didn’t come from the curb, ceramic plates instead of paper plates, and real cups instead of the plastic freebies with the school mascot on the side. Bring this cup back for a free fountain drink with purchase of any large pizza.

I wandered into a high-end home goods store. There was no Walmart in town at the time, or me and my mostly empty wallet would have gone there. I chose a black cup from a back corner display. Black dinnerware was not cool at a time when happy graduates picked happy colors or at least safe, porcelain florals. The sales woman (tailored slacks, hair pinned up, an older woman with an air about her as if she was the owner) waved off the black with a flick of her hand. She ushered me to the popular picks.

“I still like the black cup,” I said.

She gave me the look. I know you know the look. It comes with a quiver of the lips, a pursing of the lips, but ever so briefly. For a moment I wondered if I had imagined her facial expression.

Then she said, “Are you sure?” with a smile that didn’t crinkle the eyes.

Clearly, I was doing something wrong, choosing something weird. “Yes,” I said, hating the quiver in my voice.

###

Where am I going with this? I just want to say, go ahead, be the weird person. Embracing your quirks may help you be a better writer.

Iconic horror author Shirley Jackson said this about drawing upon your oddness when creating stories: “The very nicest thing about being a writer is that you can afford to indulge yourself endlessly with oddness, and nobody can really do anything about it so long as you keep writing and kind of using it up, as it were.”

Erotica author K. M. Strange says she was a “weirdo kid.” She has this to say about intelligence, creativity, and humor being disguised as weirdness: “If you, like me, ever feel or felt like you’re not normal—it’s because you’re not, and that’s a really, really good thing. The world might not get you yet, but they will. And when that day comes, make sure you’re ready to show exactly what you’re made of!” It’s no wonder that she chose the penname “Strange.”

Here’s a tidbit from the late science fiction author Ian Wallace: “Why are you trying so hard to fit in when you were born to stand out?”

Author and writing teacher Rebecca McClanahan says that being an outsider is a feeling “that comes naturally to most writers. Many of my students tell me that they often feel they are standing outside their own lives, looking in. ‘That’s the way most writers are,’ I tell them. ‘That’s how we make stories out of our lives.’”

###

It’s years later. I still have the black cup I chose that day. It’s my fave. Just for kicks, I looked it up on Ebay to see if anyone else had these old cups lying around. I found one listed for eighty-five dollars! For ONE cup! Seems like other people have come to recognize the beauty of my long ago, weird choice.

What I’m reading now:
It’s the 2 year bookiversary of my friend Jonathan Pongratz’s debut novella, Reaper. Reaper is a fun YA horror story with a creepy-as-heck monster. It’s a re-read for me, and it’s just as fun the second time around!
I’m also reading Journey 4 from the talented Teagan Geneviene’s serial novel Dead of Winter, a cool fantasy with depth of characters and wonderfully drawn settings.

Jackson quote from Shirley Jackson: A Rather Haunted Life, by Ruth Franklin

Strange’s quote from her post, The Thing About Weirdos.

Mynhardt’s quote from Horror 101: The Way Forward, ed by Joe Mynhardt

McClanahan’s quote from Word Painting, by Rebecca McClanahan

114 thoughts on “The Odd Writer

  1. Wow, what a great story! I love how you stuck to your guns. And kudos on graduating so young from college! I dropped out for three years before going back the first time around.

    Thanks so much for the kind words on my book Reaper. I cant believe it’s been two years! Time flies, huh?

    Liked by 3 people

    1. I haven’t seen it yet. Shh, don’t tell me what happens because I’m actually planning on watching it this weekend! It’ll be interesting to compare it with what I learned about Jackson in her biography by Ruth Franklin. Thanks for commenting, Crystal!

      Like

  2. Loved those quotes. Writing is a lonely journey, filled with imaginary friends that we’re sad to let go… and didn’t that make me sound a little coocoo.
    And Most cups I bought last year have already become dust. Glad you still have yours – it must be nostalgic.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. No, not coocoo, just creative.:-) The first time I cried when I wrote a character’s death, I wondered why the heck I was crying over someone who wasn’t real. Yes, we DO get attached to our imaginary friends! Thanks for stopping by, Jina.:-)

      Liked by 2 people

  3. I love the quotes and I love the cup. I have a few black stoneware cups, too. I bought them in college, and a few survived to this day. I’d drink out of them more often, but I take my coffee in embarrassingly larger sizes now.

    Liked by 3 people

      1. Probably an American thing. We super-size everything. But I’m not complaining. I need the caffeine jolt in the morning, and it saves me from going to the kitchen 700 times. (Sad but true.) 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  4. Awesome words of wisdom, here. To piggy back off of what you are saying – I think a lot of times “weird” has a negative connotation and I think we should all strive to overcome that and embrace the weird and quirky. Let your colors shine through no matter what! All of us being different adds to the color of the world. Excellanto. 😎

    Liked by 2 people

  5. That is such a cool story, Priscilla. I love the quotes you chose, too.
    I have to agree that I always felt “weird” and “strange.” In high school my friends call ed me “Star Child” because of my “oddness.” I fit in when I have to, but that oddness is something I’ve never outgrown. 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  6. What a fantastic story and metaphor, I’m honoured to be mentioned in connection with it. I think we all have a black mug of some sort, something that reminds us and the world that we like who we are, regardless of what stuffy sales-people may think. Great post, Priscilla!

    Liked by 3 people

  7. You know, when we’re young there are times we really want to fit in and be like everyone else. Now that I’m older I’m glad I basically lived up to the meaning of my name, which is ‘strange or stranger’. It’s best to be true to your own self and go your own way. And yes, the first cups I bought for myself were black! Glad you stuck to your guns and did what you wanted, too. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  8. My favourite mug had a spider ON it – I still have the matching plate but the mug, alas, is no more – shouldn’t have moved so much, it was a victim of packing.
    I’ve always been weird but in a ‘doesn’t fit in’ sort of way. Never had a ton of friends but have always been sought out by other weirds……….and not all of them good 🤦‍♀️

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Ah, PB girl, there is such a smoothness about the way you tell your weird-cup story; you have the gift. The grain of the wood beneath the cup radiates out from it like rays of sun, or like unique streams of words.(I had that same salesperson, but it was in a furniture store. Still have that chair that didn’t work with that sofa, also a fav.)

    Liked by 1 person

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