I found this quiz by Mary on a blowhards post about publishing. (See also Blowhard’s post calling for health insurance no longer to be a business deduction). I didn’t write it (and I’m not sure who did), but it’s hilariously true:
A Real Writer has many “special” qualities. Take this test to see if you are a Real Writer. Give yourself one point for each correct answer.
1. You’re in the book store and you’ve just opened your first copy of The Writer’s Market. You:
A. Clutch the book to your bosom and shout, “As God is my witness, I’ll never go hungry again!”
B. Mutter, “$26.99? They’ve got to be kidding.” You ask the salesclerk, “When does this book come out in paperback?”
C. Say to yourself, “I’m going to need a LOT of postage stamps.”
The correct answer is B. A Real Writer can’t afford hardcover.
2. Upon receiving your first rejection letter that isn’t one of those bad photocopies addressed to “Dear Colleague” you:
A. Have it mounted and put into an expensive frame then hang it in a prominent place in your entryway.
B. Go on a huge shopping spree, knowing you will pay off the credit card as soon as you get that advance.
C. Inundate the publisher who sent you the rejection slip with everything you’ve ever written, including your award-winning poem from fifth grade.
The correct answer is C. A Real Writer seizes any and all opportunities because she is not only savvy, she loves to mail stuff. Also she needs as many write-offs as possible (like postage) because, for the last nine years, she has shown a loss on Schedule C of her income tax return.
3. You’ve sent your finished manuscript, a poignant, sensitive piece, (double-spaced, and spell-checked more than once) to an agent who has expressed interest in your work. You do not hear from the agent for 18 months; moreover, she does not return your 23 phone calls. You:
A. Feel certain she is simply a very busy person and will get to your story soon. Nevertheless, you pay a visit to your doctor and begin taking medication.
B. Send her threatening E-Mail under the pseudonym “Drain Bamage.”
C. Chalk it up to her loss and self-publish.
The correct answer is of course A. A Real Writer is neurotic, desperate, and pathetic.
4. A fellow writer in your critique group gives you what you consider hateful criticism on Chapter Five of your brilliant, dual-plot novel. You:
A. Thank her profusely while jabbing a penpoint into the notebook on which you have drawn a caricature of her face.
B. Turn the criticism her way, pointing out that not only did her last book bomb, her dog smells like the men’s toilet in a train station.
C. Thank her for her opinion, but the next day drive by her house and fill the gas tank of her Lexus with teeny, tiny Legos.
The correct answer is A, B, & C. A Real Writer secretly despises all writers, unless the writers are less successful than she is, in which case she adores them.
5. The last book you finished was:
A. The English Patient
C. Your reading primer from third grade.
The correct answer is C. Key word: finished. While you have begun more than 22,345 books, you have not actually finished a book since grammar school. A Real Writer is too busy writing to read. (Also she knows that if she reads a book that is better written than her own, she will become melancholic and succumb to writer’s block– something that is to be avoided at all costs.)
6. You have just finished writing your first young adult novel which you are sure is destined to be a classic, or at least a cult favorite. The first thing you do is:
A. Fax it to Knopf and Harpers and sit by the phone, reading up on bidding wars.
B. Read the manuscript over the phone to your mother, and all your girlfriends from high school who used to call you “Four Eyes.”
C. Go to the mall and buy a new pair of shoes.
The correct answer is C. A Real Writer would never sit by the phone and wait. She would be busy thinking about her next novel. And, as every Real Writer knows, shopping frees the creative spirit, especially shopping for shoes. The Muse loves shoes.
7. You finally publish a book! Yipee! You:
A. Purchase The Unabashed Guide to Self-Promotion and go door-to-door wearing your old girl scout uniform (which still fits, kinda) and sell your books to anyone who will buy them.
B. Donate a hundred signed copies of your book to all the local libraries and schools, nursing homes, children’s hospitals, etc.
C. Mail a copy of your book to your 10 best friends (postage due) and wait for the phone calls of congratulations to come.
The Correct answer is C. A Real Writer craves recognition and approval. The problem is that most Real Writers don’t have 10 friends who are still speaking to them.
8. Upon receipt of your first royalty check, you:
A. Say to yourself, “Goody! Now I can buy that electric pencil sharpener I’ve been eyeing in the Staples catalog.”
B. Hire an attorney to help you decipher the statement.
C. Call the publisher and scream into the phone, “SHOW ME THE MONEY!!”
The correct answer is A by default. A Real Writer is too mousy to call her publisher, and too poor to hire an attorney.
9. You choose a critique group based on:
A. The quality of the writing.
B. The quality of the food being served.
C. The number of members who worship you.
The correct answer is B. A Real Writer never passes up a meal, especially if it’s free.
10. You read Publisher’s Weekly:
A. Once a week.
B. Once in a blue moon.
C. Publisher’s what?
The correct answer is C. A Real Writer never reads any trade books unless they contain a glowing review of her book, in which case she buys 100 copies and puts them on her bookshelf.
11. Your favorite quote is:
A. “Never argue with people who buy ink by the gallon.”
B. “Asking a working writer what he thinks about critics is like asking a lamp-post how it feels about dogs.”
C. “Well, enough about me. Let’s talk about my new novel.”
The correct answer is C. A Real Writer strives to be humble at all times.
12. Your favorite pastime is:
A. Scanning through classics, circling phrases you can “borrow” for future books.
B. Reading over your own manuscripts, laughing your head off at the funny parts and crying your eyes out at the sad parts.
C. Eating large amounts of chocolate in whatever form you can get it.
The correct answer is B. A Real Writer spends waaay too much time alone. Also she is convinced that the world does not appreciate the genius that she is often forced to keep hidden. She is President (and sole member) of her own fan club.
13. You take “medicine:”
A. On a regular basis.
B. Only for PMS symptoms. (See “A”)
C. Only when you need to get the creative juices flowing. (See “A”)
The correct answer is A, B, and C, and your writing reflects it. But hey, you’ve developed coping skills that WORK. You have learned that, when all is said and done, it’s the process that counts and, dammit, you’re tenacious. You will never give up. Because you’re a Real Writer.
Scoring: If you scored a 13 you’re a Real Writer. I feel sorry for you.
If you scored a zero you’re probably a Successful Writer, not to be confused with a Real Writer. Real Writers never associate with Successful Writers unless it’s to borrow money.