You Might Be a Writer

You might be a writer if...Arguably Jeff Foxworthy’s most famous bit, “You might be a redneck” singlehandedly defined a certain subset of Southern American culture for an entire generation of Americans living to the north and west of the Mason-Dixon Line.

The first time I heard one of Foxworthy’s famous one-liners, I was sitting on a plywood board in the back of a beige Ford Econoline heading north on the New Jersey Turnpike. I was nine.

My cousin Steven, aged ten, was sitting opposite me on another plywood plank. An hour before, we’d been having a ball with waffle fries and pinball at the Dave & Buster’s in Philadelphia, and my eyes were near to closing as my uncle and his girlfriend drove us home to Toms River, New Jersey. Steven handed me a set of yellow headphones attached to a Sony Walkman.

High above the humming of the highway and the jostling of wrenches inside the old Craftsman toolbox, a voice that sounded like a twanging steel guitar sounded in the headphones.

If somebody yells “hoedown!” and your girlfriend hits the floor, youuuuu might be a redneck.

Intrigued, but not yet amused, I sat up in the van and pressed the headphones to my ears. It was my first brush with a Southern accent.

If you missed fourth grade graduation because youuuuu had jury duty, you might be a redneck.

Jeff Foxworthy was able to cannily define rednecks, and built himself a comedy empire.

There’s a certain kind of joyous solidarity in belonging to an oft-skewered group, a bemused bonhomie when you recognize the parts of yourself in others that may’ve gotten you beat up on the playground. Or worse.

So, how do you know that you might be a writer?

If you frequently catch yourself narrating your everyday life…

What? You’re just sharpening your scene-setting skills. Show, don’t tell, amirite?

If you’ve ever wished for a more risky or dangerous day job…

I work in a hospital, but not as a clinician. There’s not a week that goes by where I don’t hear about a surgeon or a nurse doing something absolutely amazing, reported in a ho-hum, all-in-a-day’s-work sort of way. Like this heart surgeon, who performed a live-saving bypass operation on a retired obstetrician—the same obstetrician who had delivered him as a baby, 44 years earlier.

If you’ve ever experienced writer’s arse and profound exhaustion at the same time…

Sometimes, sitting and thinking about your work-in-progress is as much of a workout as, well, an actual workout.

If your Google search history contains phrases like “juvenile poison ivy,” “Molotov cocktail recipe,” “cast of The Goonies” and “electrostatic speakers”…

And if you try and temper the searches that could land you on the no-fly list with things like “IKEA baby furniture” and “videos of pug puppies,” well, that just makes you paranoid. Or a multitasker.

You might be certifiably insane… or you might be a writer.

What bizarre unique things make YOU a writer? Care to share in solidarity? Put it in the comments!