marginalia || You Know You’re A Writer When, by Adair Lara

You catch yourself patting your laptop when you close it down.

So guilty of this.

When I got off from work last night (barely making it to catch Glee, haha), I stopped by the BookSale for some good-natured spelunking. Wanted a quick read to keep me company while I munched on my shawarma sandwich. And yay I found this book: You Know You’re A Writer When, by Adair Lara. It did keep me company. But it also had people looking my way whenever I giggled. As though I were a weirder sight than the show band trying to cover Lady Gaga. Huh. Anyhoo. It’s a cute little book, one that I want to hunt down so I can give it to every writer I know. It’s a small book, and I think I could slip it in my laptop bag, so I could pull it out whenever I need some bolstering.

The entries are funny, but they are also true. Which is meta-funny, in my world. So. You know you’re a writer when:

Your pet peeve is people who use the word “literally” wrong–such as “I literally cooked each recipe in my head.” Such errors make you see red–figuratively.

I really could strangle people who do this. I, like, literally died. Wouldn’t you want to try?!

At parties, you check out the bookshelves the way other people snoop through medicine cabinets.

When I walk around the neighborhood at night, I try to look into lighted windows to see whether they have bookshelves, and whether I can recognize the books. That’s not illegal, right? It’s creepy, yes, and my boyfriend has yanked me away several times–but I don’t think it’s illegal.

You fell in love with a man because he used “frisson” and “palimpsest” in cocktail-party conversation.

No comment. Then again, when I met The Boyfriend, we were in a writers’ workshop, and he had to use “juxtaposition” and the hated “entropy”–I think he fell in love with me because I staunchly defended the use of objective correlative in a story, haha. /dork

Your driver’s license reads, Eyes: shifty. Hair: windswept.

HAHAHAHAHAHA. Ahem. But there are those quiet moments within the book–you know when your laughter’s just trailing off, and you read something, and you go, Hmmm, and take another bite out of that sandwich? Yeah. That.
Writing is the only thing you do that doesn’t make you feel as if you should be doing something else.

That is all. Back to my job. Which is, uh, writing. Sort of. La-dee-dah.



  1. Wonderful! This book is so you.

    And: You fell in love with a man because he used “frisson” and “palimpsest” in cocktail-party conversation.

    Been there, done that my friend.

    1. Hahaha, thank you! And there is nothing wrong with liking someone because he uses words you’ve never heard used before (beyond the page). Haha, but the frequency could be a problem! :)

  2. Hee hee. I have this one too: it really is delightful!

    1. So cute, no? :] I love that it’s such a tiny book too.

  3. That’s so funny. I especially like the point about checking out people’s bookshelves. I totally do that :)

    1. I like that point in the friendship when you’re allowed to go straight to the bookshelf and spelunk, haha. That makes me a bad friend, I think.

  4. “At parties, you check out the bookshelves the way other people snoop through medicine cabinets.”

    Indeed. I have to force myself to be social.

    “Writing is the only thing you do that doesn’t make you feel as if you should be doing something else.”

    I bought my first Moleskine pocket journals this year and discovered how much I’ve missed it. I started journaling in 1st grade and stopped regularly writing last year. Now, I enjoy laying on the floor, listening to a good cd and writing.

    1. In particularly droll parties, I tend to forget being polite and pull out a book. Augh. Bad Sasha. Then again–I think it was Stephen King who said something like, “When you want to be a writer, being rude is the least of your worries.” He said that about taking notes in gatherings or events or just when people are hanging out, but I like to think it extends to reading; writers must write when they read, don’t they?

      So glad you’re liking that Moleskine of yours. Keep writing though, with or without the magic juju of the Moley. :)

  5. I love this post! I think I need to read the book, too, I agree with everything that’s here, particularly the one about the bookshelf–a person’s bookshelf says way more about them than their medicine cabinet.

    And misuse of “literally” drives me insane. (Figuratively, of course.)

    1. On “literally”–I have the unfortunate habit of having the TV on when I’m alone in my place, and if it’s not turned to Discovery Channel or the History Channel (yeah, I’m a dork), it’s usually in no-brainer US reality shows. The ones were “literally” is, like, literally dropped, like, literally every ten seconds. Like, OMG, literally. Yeah. :}

      I’m proud to have this little book; I’m thinking of scribbling in some of my entries too, haha.

  6. Jennifer · · Reply

    Writing is the only thing you do that doesn’t make you feel as if you should be doing something else.
    Most definitely!

    1. And when writing isn’t going well, I have this dreadful realization that I’m not worth much at anything else, haha. Definitely a flipside.

  7. Speaking of the “literary” thing: I love xkcd :D

    1. Ooops… “literally”!

    2. That’s classic, and all sorts of awesome, hahaha. Thanks so much!

  8. stilettostorytime · · Reply

    I loved the one comparing snooping bookshelves to medicine cabinets…that is so me…I snoop books…it’s like I have a radar as soon as I enter someone’s house.

    1. And, as with medicine cabinets, I judge people by the books in their shelves, haha.

  9. Did Lara write this book for me? Peer into my soul and find the secret bookshelf scanner and bookshelves coveter? Find my secret guilt factory where all my non-writing activities fill up with guilt-producing stuffing?
    Great post. I will add this to the wishlist.

    1. Then, Nathalie, you know you’re a writer! :] Please get this lovely little book when you have the chance. And we’re allowed to scribble in our own criteria, haha.

  10. […] At a birthday-barbecue, I, quite typically, spent a lot of time looking at my hosts’ bookshelves. Consider the Lobster and Other Essays […]

  11. […] You Know You’re a Writer When, by Adair Lara. […]


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