Mirror, Mirror…

Mirror, mirror, on the wall, who’s the weirdest of them all?

tim sherman-chase via flickr creative commons

Writers are a strange bunch. Individually, writers tend to exhibit the personality quirks of a lone wolf terror suspect. They are introverted, often under the influence of mind altering substances (coffee and/or booze), are observed talking to themselves, and have an end game focus.

Writers often congregate in small groups, more accurately named,  cells. These Writer Cells meet and plot bad things- very bad things. The members of these secretive groups devise methods to overthrow governments, infect citizens with exotic, viral diseases, and entrap innocent unbelievers in slave camps. They tend to feed off one another and devise new and increasingly twisted dark plans.

That person with the laptop, the one you notice sitting alone at Starbucks; they aren’t sipping on a cappuccino whilst catching up on email. No, that person, my friends, is the front guard of the Writer’s Terror Network. They are trying out their nefarious plans on you, or worse, stealing your very words and mannerisms for their stories. Once they bring you alive on the page, God only knows what evil they have in store for you.

w10 via flicker creative commons

w10 via flicker creative commons

Once separated from their support networks, writers are easily trapped and captured with a simple lure of book reviews or the whiff of an agent interested in their Whack a Mole Word Art. They breakdown quickly and often. Seasoned interrogators (critics) probe the open wounds of self doubt with one-star reviews and complaints about  story structure.

Careful interaction is a must with these sensitive creative types. Offend them at your own risk. They will write you into their next novel and your character will meet a painful, violent death.

Where One Star Reviewers Go...

Where One Star Reviewers Go…

The Web browser histories of the captives are chilling. Weapons, dirty bombs, inner city metro maps and Netflix streaming videos of the lost episodes of Manimal. The NSA is performing a linked pattern analysis of bad television and unreadable fiction.



Writers expect black helicopters with jackbooted gunmen to swoop down at any moment. Ted “Unabomber” Kazinski, The Zodiac Killer, Son of Sam, – writer, writer, writer. The space between psychopathic crackpot and fiction writer is a slim margin, a unicorn whisper at best. So when you gaze into that mirror, what do you see? And can you explain your browser history when “they” come to take you away to the “farm?”

JCwriting motivator

JCwriting motivator

Among the last few items on my browser history, I swear upon a stack of Stephen King novels, they were all for research are:

  • Airport maps
  • Temperatures needed for Cryogenic Suspension
  • The value of a human kidney on the black market
  • Mexican drug cartel smuggling routes
  • Counterfeit pharmaceuticals
  • Homemade wifi sniffing surveillance drone
  • Charlize Theron (research, remember)

So, fellow writers, it’s time to come clean.  What are the last five items in your browser history that you will have to explain to the authorities?  Fess up!



  1. Well, on mine you will find share a link….share a link on Google+… share a link on Twitter. You get the picture. I am addicted to sharing.

    1. Sharing is caring right?

  2. stephanie710 · · Reply

    LOL…al true. A good friend of mine, a writer of course, said if anyone ever confiscated her hard drive, she’d be arrested. Sadly, we all fit the profile you’ve outlined. Right down to the mind-altering substances. *Note to self: Xanax and coffee create a nice balance* Great post, as always.

    1. We need to develop and market a Xanax coffee creamer. That would take over the market – in a very calm way!

  3. This is great James! I’ve often wondered what one would think stumbling upon my own browsing habits. Being the kind of CYA person I am, I’ve made sure to document the research in a manner that at least gives some sort of plausible deniability.

    1. I’m sure the NSA will take your plausible deniability into account when they choose your cell at Guantanamo.

  4. Hi James,

    This is a terrific post. You are right. You never know what us writers are up to when we are behind our laptops or are writing in our notebooks. Be mean to us and you may end up in the cemetery next to one of my characters!

    ok, please don’t judge me but here goes:

    1: Who made the first facial composition?
    2: When was the first facial composition accepted as an investigative tool?
    3: can you die from drinking mouth wash?
    4: how long does it take for a synthetic fiber to deteriorate?
    5: When was the coffee mug invented?


    1. Great list! I love the whole idea behind the “can you die from drinking mouthwash,” line. And the inventor of the coffee cup is a mad genius.

  5. The only thing that might save me from NSA scrutiny is that the guns I research are historic! 🙂 Great post!

    1. If you hear the whir of a helicopter over your home tonight, you’ll discover that a black-powder blunderbuss is frowned upon in certain circles. Thanks for dropping by the blog!

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