The Image of a Writer in 2012

Ernest Hemingway and F. Scott Fitzgerald ©

To recognize the new year, I want to ask this question: What does a writer look like in 2012?

In my mind, I’ve romanticized Shakespeare and later, the Romantic writers, with puffy white shirts, capes and feather quills. If we look at the Roaring Twenties (like the movie Midnight in Paris did) those writers and artists had a certain look too. Men had their tweed suits and ties, women had their loose, flapper dresses. And typewriters.

No one wants to be a cliché, especially writers. But sometimes, when I walk into Starbucks for example, I see people that I just think look the part. Here are the stereotypes that come to mind:

Thick-rimmed glasses, tee shirts with out-of-print book cover designs on them, converse sneakers, and outfits that just have something edgy–a vintage scarf or skirt, perhaps, or a blazer. Or an argyle sweater. A 2012 writer might be found wearing these things while typing on a laptop in a coffee shop or browsing shelves at an indie bookstore. Am I missing anything?

There’s something I enjoy about this cliché, even though it’s certainly not true for all writers. And I might be wrong in general–maybe I’m just thinking of the modern hipster. But as I write this wearing Uggs, sweatpants from Abercombie and a North Face fleece, I’m wondering if I “look” writerly enough.

The lesson I’m learning is that we (I) shouldn’t idealize the “look” of a writer so much. What really matters is if the writing is occurring. The image of a 2012 writer is unique to each writer, provided we get the writing done.