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

107 thoughts on “The Odd Writer

  1. Great story. I think we’ve all experienced sales assistants like that. I was once in the market for a new car, and went into my local BMW showroom to look at some models. I was looking at the entry-level one, and the sales guy oozed over to me and said, “most of our customers buy those as a little runabout for the wife.” I left the showroom straight away, and got a Volvo instead.

    I love the way you still have the black cup. I have one big white Ikea cup I’ve had for probably twenty years. There’s nothing unusual about it, but for some weird reason, I’m really attached to it. It’s a lone survivor. I take my morning coffee in it every day, and will continue to do so until it joins its friends in the pottery charnel house.

    Shirley Jackson’s The Lottery was one of the strangest stories I’ve read recently. It inspired me to try introducing more unusual twists in my own fiction.

    Stay weird! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ugh, I would have left the dealer too!

      We do get attached to our coffee mugs, don’t we? The hubster’s favorite is a Christmas mug he drinks out of year round, go figure.

      I read “The Lottery” as a teen, and it STILL haunts me, great story. Good luck with your writing projects, and thanks for commenting, Brian!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Embrace the weirdness and let your freak flag fly, I say. From a young age I figured out I made different choices from most of my friends, and I’m okay with that. And I totally would have gone with the black mug – black is one of my fav colors!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Sometimes a person just needs a good pep talk and permission to keep on with their oddness and they don’t even know it. Like I did reading this. I’ve ALWAYS gravitated to the unusual and unconventional, in myself and others. There are always people trying to push conformity, and sometimes I even find myself giving in momentarily, just to see if it fits. A couple of times it even has. But mostly I like the odd. I find the kindest, smartest, most genuine people are the ones who live by their own odd lights. Also, that black cup is FABULOUS and I’d totally have gravitated to that too!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Wow, I love this message! I’ve been an oddball ever since I was born. My motto has always been “express your individuality.” Learning peoples’ quirks is fun. Makes people seem more real.

    Keep smiling,
    Yawatta

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I have always wished people would stop trying to make me as happy as they think they are… I’d much rather be myself. And I remember (by the way) being young and on my own with such limited funds that one paycheck I bought the spoon, one paycheck I bought the bowl…another the bath towel… At one point in my twenties you could point to any one thing in my apartment and I could tell you when I bought it and how many paychecks it took to get it. And OF those things, the weird, artsy, impulse buys that made me smile are what I treasured most!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Hi Priscilla, I hear you. I was always very odd with my choices. I have always loved the music from Broadway and am know to occasionally burst into song, singing Cabaret with great energy in the middle of drying dishes. It never really bothered me except for 2 years in my teens when I made an effort to fit in.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. It takes us a while, but creative types meander through the aisles of life and find our own at the end! I relate to your story -both in liking what others do not and in others trying to change my mind.

    Liked by 1 person

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