Are You the Trickster or the Martyr?




Years back, when I was still in my “I want to write, but I don’t know if anyone will ever read it” phase (and believe me, that was a very, very long phase) I asked a friend of my husband’s to read a manuscript I had written. I think that he probably instantly regretted sending me her way because he realized she was a “high lit” type and might just be merciless.

I don’t write “high lit” – I write YA, dystopian, hopefully suck you in and keep you swirling about in the muck literature, nothing high brow to see here.

And while she wasn’t merciless per se, what she did have to say slowed my writing down to a crawl for about a year.

In the end I realized that I didn’t write for her, or for “high lit” minded folks in general. I wrote what I wanted to read – adventure, drama, dystopian “the shit is about to get real” kind of writing. And if you are looking for love forever, heroes always win and everyone goes home happy, yet again, my writing probably isn’t for you.

A few days ago I mentioned Elizabeth Gilbert’s interview with Marie Forleo. In it, she discusses the trickster and the martyr, stating that these are the two dominant writing types out there.

The Martyr lives and dies for the art. They weave words like others carve statuary or an artist paints a landscape. They agonize over each word, placing it just so, perfectly positioned for meaning, depth, and the art of it all.

The Trickster is far more likely to bum a smoke, tilt back in their chair, or even wander off to handle whatever else needs doing at the moment before wandering back to toss a few more words on the page.

Martyrs speak of writing as “their life’s work” while Tricksters grab a pen at odd times, jot a few notes and give you a smile and a wink. Martyrs dream of their work surviving them and becoming popular years after their sad demise, gin bottle in hand, in a gutter, unappreciated for their ultimate postmortem genius. Tricksters prefer for people to just read their work already, damn it.

Any guesses about who I might be?

What about you?!