How to Recognize a Fellow Writer

EMLA gang

The end of last month, Chris and I were lucky enough to attend our literary agency’s annual retreat.  Sixty-some-odd kidlit authors plus the superhuman agents and staff of Erin Murphy Literary Agency took over a historic inn in Brandon, Vermont. It was five days of writing discussions, readings, music, good food, countless laughs, and hugs.

While there, I asked a few questions of the retreat-goers.  Here’s one…


 You can recognize a fellow writer by …

“His/her bad posture and neck pain.” – Anna Staniszewski

“The daydreamy, glazed-over expression.” – Jennifer Bertman

“The number of Beatles songs they can sing.” – Conrad Wesselhoeft

“Disheveled hair, messy clothes, and a gleam in their eyes.” – Courtney Pippin Mather

“Inkstains, anxiety, and a wee bit of joy.” – Kirsten Cappy

“Wide open.”- Liz Garton Scanlon

“Their bookshelves.” – Chris Barton

“The coffee stains and the crazed looked in their eyes. Also, the presence of at least two notebooks.”- J. Anderson Coats

“The way they try to steal the royalties on your brilliant Zombie Chicken work.” – Jeannie Mobley

“Pajamas, coffee cup, cat or dog on keyboard.” – Deborah Underwood

“A feral gleam in the eye. Mistrust of the sun.”- Adi Rule

“Their inordinate love of footie pajamas. Oh, wait — is that just me? Well, I love footie pajamas enough for everyone.”
Tara Dairman

“The way they scribble notes while driving.”- Ann Bedichek

“The fact that they’re smiling and nodding while you talk, but they’re really off dreaming about their next great idea or working out a tricky plot point.” – Christine Hayes

“The words they use in conversation and in their notes, and the stories they tell (and how they tell them).”
Ruth McNally Barshaw

“How they mumble and talk to themselves pretty much all the time.” – Lindsey Lane

“I fear the blank page. But I have the love of other writers to lift me up.  What?  Oh.  You can recognize a fellow writer by the inability to follow directions.”
Janet Fox



  1. Haha, I love how we make writers sound like a bunch of half-crazed wildlings. Which…I guess we are. 🙂


  2. LOVE this. Thanks for sharing–and for asking, Jenny! What a great idea.


  3. Tee hee! I love the similarities in the answers, and yet they’re each so specific and detailed. What fun!


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