Struggling novelist trope July 25, 2013 6:29 PM   Subscribe

I'm trying to find an old AskMe question about the origin of the cliche of the depressed/alcoholic writer, who struggles to type his novel on a typewriter, crumpling one sheet of paper after another.

I'm usually pretty good at Googling old posts, but I've tried a few searches like this and I'm not finding anything. I don't know when the question was posted — probably before this year. Is anyone able to find this?
posted by John Cohen to MetaFilter-Related at 6:29 PM (17 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite

Why are writers people that wad ruled paper?

Search terms: "origin of the" "writer" "trope" site:ask.metafilter.com
posted by cashman at 6:47 PM on July 25, 2013 [2 favorites]


When did I become a trope?
posted by Annika Cicada at 7:00 PM on July 25, 2013 [6 favorites]


Thanks, cashman! That's it.
posted by John Cohen at 7:21 PM on July 25, 2013


I would have found it for you, but I was too drunk and depressed. And I had just wadded up my computer and thrown it in the trash.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 10:27 PM on July 25, 2013 [9 favorites]


Does throwing your laptop out the window count? I've had a shit day.
posted by phaedon at 11:00 PM on July 25, 2013


no you pour your glass of whiskey on the computer à la McReady in The Thing.
posted by mannequito at 12:50 AM on July 26, 2013 [2 favorites]


I'm more of a Zoolander beat it with the phone and jump up and down on it kind of person.
posted by arcticseal at 1:20 AM on July 26, 2013


O wad the page the printie gie us.
posted by dhartung at 1:33 AM on July 26, 2013 [9 favorites]


I have attempted to wad up my iPad in a fit of despair and writer's block.

I'd actually like it a lot if one of the writing apps I use had an actual "wad up this document and flick it to the virtual trash" gesture sequence.
posted by gauche at 5:51 AM on July 26, 2013 [3 favorites]


Related article from the Guardian
posted by Toekneesan at 6:19 AM on July 26, 2013


"Cheatin Bitch"
- McReady

posted by clavdivs at 7:21 AM on July 26, 2013 [3 favorites]


After hyperventilating at the painfully accurate cliches embodied in the Lego Librarians on Parade gallery (scroll down a bit), am now wondering if there are Lego characters that personify writers. Hemingway looking angrily out to sea; Shelley vividly dreaming up Frankenstein; Twain writing a sarcastic riposte while stroking a cat; that kind of thing.
posted by Wordshore at 8:54 AM on July 26, 2013 [3 favorites]


Ok, so for my Lego figurine, it should show a seated woman staring blankly at a computer screen, complete with cat on lap. That's how I do writer's block, bitches!
posted by Lynsey at 10:02 AM on July 26, 2013 [3 favorites]


Annnd now I'm weirded out: as a (former) Lego employee who is a librarian, that's just too weird. Two worlds colliding, two tastes that (actually) really go well together but still...
posted by librarylis at 11:26 AM on July 26, 2013


I hope this doesn't come over as too ploddingly unironic and humourless, but ...

"Writer" is very much a job. Unfortunately most folks who don't do it for a living mistake it for a lifestyle. Even more unfortunately, many folks who don't do it for a living think it must be easy because, after all, they can write, can't they? They can easily write a couple of sentences. So how hard must it be to write a book, which is basically just made out of sentences? Obviously anyone can do it, and then cash in on the buckets-of-claret and a mansion in the south of France author's lifestyle. Oh, and the basket under the table into which to so negligently toss their malformed pages (leaving aside that it probably takes the best part of a quarter of an hour for a speedy typist to type a page of original text on a manual typewriter -- those things are a lot more cumbersome than a modern computer keyboard).
posted by cstross at 2:38 PM on July 27, 2013


It's a job that is conducive to drinking though.

I would also say that "writer" is a job for some. For others it is a lifestyle.

I write because I love doing so. I've done it for money before, but that makes it work and sucks the fun right out of it.

I'm pretty sure I could make a living writing, since I've done it, but it would be a shitty living (and I like to eat). This is an honest assessment of my own abilities and past experience.

I still consider myself a writer, but it's not my job.

There are plenty of writers out there that can't make a living at it or choose not to. They are still writers. They just aren't professional writers.
posted by cjorgensen at 6:24 PM on July 27, 2013


I misread that as "snuggling novelist trope" and I immediately wanted to snuggle a novelist. You write, I read copiously, we all get snuggles.
posted by SakuraK at 11:48 PM on July 27, 2013 [2 favorites]


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