Occupational Hazards

by Pari

Writing is a dangerous profession. Neither Kevlar nor Teflon, fire retardant nor bubble wrap, can keep us ink-stained wretches from harm.

In spite of the peril, Dear Reader, we pursue our craft because we must . . .
and because we love you.

Over the years, I've maintained a private catalogue of a few of the potential hazards of this deceptively sheltered job. I hope, by mentioning them here, that I can in some small way make the world a safer place.

Papier Slitus
You've heard the expression, "blood, sweat and tears." Well the blood comes from folding, grabbing or pulling a piece of paper too quickly. The sweat and tears are self-explanatory if you're dripping all over a full manuscript or galley.
Prevention:  Wear gloves. Latex works better than wool.

Lingus Slitus
Who knew that licking envelopes could be fraught with danger? Lingus Slitus is always painful. The fact that so many agents still insist on snail mail queries is a crime. It puts would-be scribes at peril every day.
Prevention:  Wear a condom on your tongue. Even this isn't 100 per cent effective; abstinence is the only sure way to prevent this injury.

Scrivitori Spasmaticus Minorus
A spasm of the wrist or fingers wherein excruciating paralysis inhibits motion for brief moments of time. A secondary feature of this injury is numbness.
Prevention:  Rotate wrists and wiggle fingers for a few minutes during each hour of writing.

Scrivitori Spasmaticus Majorus
A more serious condition than its cousin above. This is a spasm of the writer's creativity: A.K.A. deep brain freeze, writers' block, creativity interruptus. Often accompanied with groans, moans, posturing and dwelling past successes, this injury can also result in extreme head banging against hard surfaces.
Prevention:  Show up. Write through the spasm, but take the pressure off. Remember, not everything you create must be brilliant during the first, or even eleventh, go round. Poe and Doyle had their bad days too.

Lardus Butticus
From lithe to pear shaped, writers' glutteuses become maximus from sitting long hours each day.
Prevention:  Get up, damnit! Take a walk. Dance. Jog. Pace in your living room. Just do it for at least 30 minutes daily.
(Caution: Worry is NOT a form of exercise.)

An excessive attachment to blogs, social networks, computer games, virtual worlds, email, iPhones (and other telephonic devices), text messaging, websites, internet research, listservs — resulting in diminished creativity, literary lack of resolve, paltry productivity.
Prevention:  Turn off the f*cking electronics! ALL of THEM! Go ahead. Be inaccessible. It's all right.
Relish the quiet. Give your mind the peace to hear its own music.

Ego Bombasticus
The pernicious condition of being self-impressed.
Prevention #1:  Read other writers.
Prevention #2:  Read all of your reviews.

Ego Inthepitsticus
A potential side-effect of the above-mentioned preventions for Ego Bombasticus. This condition results in a total lack of confidence in one's own abilities.
Prevention:  Get over it and WRITE. If you're right and your work is crap, the only way to get better is to keep at it. If you're wrong and your work is good, you'll find out soon enough.

Today, I implore you. Please do your part.
Help identify other hazards so that all writers may benefit from your experience.

Forewarned is forearmed.


Happy New Year to all of you who've made my experience here at Murderati such a tremendous joy. May 2009 surpass your highest hopes and never descend to your deepest fears.

20 thoughts on “Occupational Hazards

  1. J.T. Ellison

    Pari, this is brilliant. I’m rolling…

    Osmosisitius – the act of not submitting your work in the vain hope that an agent or publisher will find your website, request your material and get you a six figure deal.

    Prevention: Submit, submit, submit. Learn that a rejection letter isn’t a rejection of you, and keep submitting even when you get one or two. Don’t let a stranger derail your hopes and dreams.

  2. pari

    Oh, this is a good one, JT!

    I’m trying to pronounce it . . .

    Actuall, I’ve really wondered about osmosisitius. I do know people who believe that agents and editors are out there searching through sites to find new writers/clients. I haven’t met an agent or editor who has that kind of time or inclination.

  3. joylene

    Ignorance is bliss, Pari. Now I can’t live with my head in the snow, which was proving difficult in -15 C. Better than last week when it was -30 C.

    The fact that you did all this research is inspiring, kinda.

    Happy New Year Everyone.

  4. pari

    Joylene,Well, ya know, research should never go to waste. Alas, I’ve personally suffered all the documented hazards.

    The good news is that I seem to have survived.

    Would you please send us some of your snow? NM can always use more water.

    And Happy New Year right back at you!

  5. pari

    Louise,”Thrilleritis” is a true hazard and the number of sufferers is only growing.

    I bet there are related afflictions as well: YAitits, noiroma.

  6. pari

    J.D.,Thanks for finding the more common name for Inthpitsticus. I appreciate it.

    And the hazard you mention is the worst of all.

    May none of our Murderati readers suffer from it in the new year.

  7. J.D. Rhoades

    “noiroma”–HAHAHAHAAAAA! Thanks, I needed that.

    And in the interest of full disclosure, Itotallysuckitis isn’t original with me. I think either Alison Gaylin or Lori G. Armstrong coined it.

  8. R.J. Mangahas

    Thank you for the warning lists Pari. I had no idea writing was such hazardous work.

    Oh you might want to add:bibliomaxoverloadus — when one reads too much when they should be writing (particularly dangerous near deadline times)

    Prevention: Put down the book and WRITE!!

    By the way, According to the play DEATHTRAP, “Thrilleritus malignus” is that “fevered persuit of the one-set five-character money maker.”

  9. Karen Dyer

    Thanks, Pari! I’m not even a writer and I could identify with a lot of these “ailments”. It’s nice to read of these things in a way that makes one smile–even on a Monday morning (the true test)! –KarenD.

  10. pari

    Zoe,Oh, yes!!!!

    I’ve got a case of that right now! But I’ve got to say, I don’t like the “prevention” at all. It just makes me feel worse 😉

  11. pari

    R.J.,Great and very real hazard. I’m sure ALL of us suffer from it to some extent.

    The recommended prevention is succint and effective.

    I had no idea about “Thrilleritus malignus.” Great minds, no?

  12. Fran

    Isn’t “supernaturitis” becoming a big item too? The need, either from peer or editorial pressure, to write some sort of otherworldly or urban fantasy type novel?

    What a fabulous post, Pari!

  13. pari

    Fran,You nailed it. I think we’ll be seeing many many more authors suffering from supernaturitis in the coming years thanks to Charlaine Harris, Stephanie Meyer and JK Rowling.


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