Are You a Weirdo?


Happy Birthday, Brian Clegg.


Not open for further replies.

Paul Whybrow

Full Member
Jun 20, 2015
Cornwall, UK
How do people—friends and family—see you as a writer?

I've been writing since childhood, concentrating on it more at some times than others, needing a regular income from a normal job to survive—most writers do. I followed two career ladders, drifting into librarianship through a love of books, and as I was already working as a library assistant while at school. I went into teaching to be more pro-active, but also to please my family by making them think I was respectable!

Friends' opinions of me as a writer over the decades have varied. I've always been considered weird, imaginative and with a different take on life, so they weren't surprised at my creativity. Having said that, I didn't talk about it much..not out of embarrassment, more that I didn't think it would interest friends and colleagues or that they might feel intimidated by my cleverness.

Also, I've never much cared about people's opinion of me, just tried to do the right thing. If it didn't sit well with my conscience or provided no contentment, then I changed direction. This was easy to do without the commitment of children to raise.

These days, I'm alone, without family, but know that my parents would be proud that I'm a writer. They were both avid readers.

I came across a couple of quotes, which made me wonder about how other members of the Colony get on with their loved ones:

'When a writer is born into a family, the family is finished.'

Czeslaw Milosz

And from the excellent Brain Pickings newsletter, where Ben Shahn is talking about painters, but what he says could well apply to writers too:

The artist is likely to be looked upon with some uneasiness by the more conservative members of society. He seems a little unpredictable. Who knows but that he may arrive for dinner in a red shirt… appear unexpectedly bearded…offer, freely, unsolicited advice…or even ship off one of his ears to some unwilling recipient? However glorious the history of art, the history of artists is quite a different matter. And in any well-ordered household, the very thought that one of the young men may turn out to be an artist can be a cause for general alarm. It may be a point of great pride to have a Van Gogh on the living room wall, but the prospect of having Van Gogh himself in the living room would put a good many devoted art lovers to rout.

(from a lecture titled 'On Nonconformity')

Ben Shahn

So, are you a weirdo, an outsider, an unstable neurotic or more intelligent, even sexier than the average person through your writing?

My family see me as a bit spooky at times, and use that as an extra resource. Will the cat recover? Why didn't they hear from an old friend, and is that friend OK? Etc etc. They also see me as utterly stable, a go-to person, so while they are fascinated, they are not remotely challenged by either my writing or my other activities. I am lucky in my family, very lucky. They are without exception busy doing their own thing and are not easily fazed by others doing theirs, full stop.

ADD My father though, worries that I might one day write a family history autobiography.

What's normal? There is conformism, there are what a dear friend used to rather rudely refer to as 'sheeple' ...people who are essentially, much preoccupied with tribal positioning, being ruled by fear and the need to be with 'like minded' people for self-affirmation (and where is there learning to be had in that?)

There is individuality, there is eccentricity, but true weirdness implies either one is simply a fish out of water, swimming in altogether the wrong pond, needing to find a congenial tribe, or else there is some problem, perceived or actual, with one's functional capability.

I don't like people en masse, but otherwise I do like people; I really do.
Last edited: see, I was an entomologist before I was a writer. So, writing seems rather tame and normal by comparison...I think they're happy I rarely go around with vials of bugs in my pockets anymore. :D
Not open for further replies.

Happy Birthday, Brian Clegg.