The Image of a Writer in 2012

Ernest Hemingway and F. Scott Fitzgerald © MailOnline.com

To recognize the new year, I want to ask this question: What does a writer look like in 2012?

In my mind, I’ve romanticized Shakespeare and later, the Romantic writers, with puffy white shirts, capes and feather quills. If we look at the Roaring Twenties (like the movie Midnight in Paris did) those writers and artists had a certain look too. Men had their tweed suits and ties, women had their loose, flapper dresses. And typewriters.

No one wants to be a cliché, especially writers. But sometimes, when I walk into Starbucks for example, I see people that I just think look the part. Here are the stereotypes that come to mind:

Thick-rimmed glasses, tee shirts with out-of-print book cover designs on them, converse sneakers, and outfits that just have something edgy–a vintage scarf or skirt, perhaps, or a blazer. Or an argyle sweater. A 2012 writer might be found wearing these things while typing on a laptop in a coffee shop or browsing shelves at an indie bookstore. Am I missing anything?

There’s something I enjoy about this cliché, even though it’s certainly not true for all writers. And I might be wrong in general–maybe I’m just thinking of the modern hipster. But as I write this wearing Uggs, sweatpants from Abercombie and a North Face fleece, I’m wondering if I “look” writerly enough.

The lesson I’m learning is that we (I) shouldn’t idealize the “look” of a writer so much. What really matters is if the writing is occurring. The image of a 2012 writer is unique to each writer, provided we get the writing done.

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3 Comments

  1. Tahara

     /  1.22.2012

    I see writers the way you see them, too! The thing that I enjoy about the cliche of writers – how they look, where they write, etc – is that it gives me a warm, comfy feeling inside, reassuring me that I AM a writer and should continue to grow as one. I also agree that each writer is unique, coming forth with their own take on/view of the world and that although things have changed/are changing (e-books?!) I’m glad we’re still writing 🙂 Thanks for making me think about this!

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    • Stephanie

       /  1.26.2012

      Hey Tahara! I feel the same way–usually cliches annoy me, but not this one. I get that same warm feeling. I’m glad we’re still writing too! Though I’m definitely not doing it as much as I should lol. Oh e-books–yeah, they are a real thing now, and becoming way less controversial. I’ll have to do a post about that! Thanks for reading and commenting!

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  2. Rae

     /  1.24.2012

    Steph.

    This is so true. And the sad part is… Sometimes those focused on image aren’t even writing as well as they could or should be. The time they take to project themselves steals away from the time they could be using to perfect themselves – perfect, as in getting better at their craft.

    I think it’s important for writers (and for anyone) to be comfortable in their own skin-with their own fashion and their own style.

    That comfort, however is different, or at least should be different, from this idea of trying to portray a certain image.

    I can’t help but think of J.K. Before she was published.

    Now there’s a writer, focused on words, not “looking a part.”

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