Are Writers Rude, Seclusive Addicts?

When those who don’t write think about those of us who do, many stereotypes may come to mind. They might view us as “hermits” who never leave their homes and sit in front of a typewriter (or today a computer) jamming away at the keys and cranking out words. They might think that we’re drug addicts and drink alcohol like a fish drinks water. They might think that we’re lonely, depressed, miserable souls who hate the world and live in our own. They might think that we are rude and that we are sex addicts. We as writers, know that this is far from the truth as many of us are still trying to make it; we have day jobs, we have families to take care of and we go to college. These stereotypes are as old as the written word itself as the issues of Hemmingway and others always seem to come to mind, and TV and Hollywood as of late have embraced the stereotype of the writer and used it as the basis of its plots. I will provide a couple of examples.

The FXX show You’re the Worst depicts the life of British-born writer Jimmy Shive-Overly, living in Los Angeles who wrote one semi-successful book titled, “Congratulations, You’re Dead” and hasn’t written much since, aside from pieces for various magazines at the request of his agent who is simply trying to ensure that Jimmy has an income. Jimmy drinks constantly, sleeps around, and is downright rude, he excuses his behavior by claiming that he “tells it as it is” and has a phobia of committing to relationships after his prior engagement was called off. His fear of commitment does change however when he meets Gretchen, a PR rep for a local rap group who is almost the mirror image of him with her own alcohol and drug problems and anxiety and depression issues. Together, they make each other happy in a miserable sort of way and keep their relationship going, based on the fact that they both know that they can bail out at any time. The show will be entering its fourth season later this year.

Californication aired on the Showtime network from 2007-2014 and revolved around the life of novelist Hank Moody, played by David Duchovny. After writing four successful novels, Moody is plagued by alcoholism and writer’s block. For several years Moody hasn’t written a word aside from blogs, especially one that is owned by the fiancé of his former partner, Karen. Moody also sleeps around, in some cases, with a different woman in every episode. This is do-in-part to his lack of the ability to say “no”. These and many other things, he blames for his inability to produce new material. Despite his flaws, he is a good father to his teenage daughter Becca and is still a reliable partner for Karen who has some of her own issues. Moody also holds onto the hope that one day, he and Karen will get back together.

The 2000 film, Finding Forrester starring Sean Connery, focuses on the reclusive stereotype of the writer. Connery plays William Forrester who wrote one successful novel and retires into seclusion. Living in a Bronx apartment, Forrester spends his days watching the neighborhood teenagers play basketball on the court below. When the teens take notice, they dare Jamal Wallace, sixteen-years-old to sneak into the apartment and steal something. When Jamal takes up the bet, he is surprised by Forrester and leaves his backpack behind. The next day, Forrester drops Jamal’s backpack out of the window. When Jamal retrieves it, he finds that Forrester wrote notes in his notebooks. Jamal returns and asks to read more of Forrester’s work and asks for advice on his own writing. After some hesitation and refusal, Forrester eventually agrees and the two form a relationship where Forrester helps Jamal improve his writing abilities. Eventually, Forrester does leave his home, walking into an empty Yankee Stadium with Jamal. There’s much more to the plot, but since I am focusing only on the stereotype of the writer in the story, you will have to read the plot or watch the movie for yourself.

These are just a few examples of how stereotypes of writers are ingrained into the minds of the general public, in the minds of those who themselves, are not writers. When Hollywood and TV focus on only these aspects of what a writer is and fail to look at the reality that the majority of writers are actually normally functioning people, with no addictions, healthy families, and relationships; who work days jobs because we haven’t sold the number of books that Stephen King has, people, will always have the wrong impression of what and how we truly are.

My advice for those who think all writers are rude, seclusive, drug and sex addicts, is to get to know a writer. It’s really the same as learning to understand a person of a different ethnic or religious background, you can’t judge a book by its cover (pun intended) just the same as you can’t judge a person by their appearance or by what you’ve heard about the group from which they come, the same goes for writers. Get to know us and realize that the negative viewpoints that have been placed on us pretty much since the written word was invented, are false, they are not always true and remember we in our own right are artists. Imagine how boring the world would be without music, without literature, without creative minds to entertain you with words, whether it is on the pages of a book or on the screen. Stereotypes do hurt, they don’t so much bother me, but when the view of my profession is always negative, it does become slightly bothersome.

I’m not telling you that you shouldn’t watch the shows and the movie I referenced above. I have watched them all and they are very good. They are worthy of your time, just remember that the images of the writers depicted in them are not always true.

-Brett T. Mazzoni

Photo retrieved from



Trying to Figure it Out (Confused)

One of the hardest things about life is, trying to figure out what it is you want to do. You grow up hearing, you can be anything you want, but that isn’t always the reality. It’s getting harder and harder to get ahead these days and finding manufacturing jobs these days is very difficult as many of those jobs are being lost to automation or are being shipped overseas. The days of finding a good paying factory job and being able to buy a home and support a family on your wage are gone. A high school diploma doesn’t hold water anymore and a Bachelors’ degree is beginning to spring leaks of its own as a Master’s degree is increasingly becoming the standard in order to find a job.

This is the problem I’m running into. I have a Bachelor’s degree in Justice Studies and Political Science and despite three internships and extensive research throughout my college days, I’m having a difficult time finding work. Every type of job I want to hold requires either a Master’s degree or five plus years of experience or both and my experience doesn’t add up to enough. I’m currently working a job that is sort of in tune with my fields of study but the pay is fairly low and there is a lack of work/life balance and upper management doesn’t care about your needs outside of work all that much. I would still like to get my Mater’s in Public Administration but recent trends show that the job outlook for people with such a degree is shrinking. I’m asking myself, do I want more debt in student loans if I’m not guaranteed a good paying job to pay off that debt and live on? The shrinking job market is why I decided not to pursue journalism which was my childhood dream, because the need for journalists is shrinking and is projected to continue to dwindle away, and the odds of landing a high paying job with a major network are pretty rare and getting anywhere as a freelance journalist is much more difficult than some make it out to be.

I always told myself that no matter what happened, and no matter how many of my goals I failed to accomplish, the one dream that I refuse to fail at is being a writer. Writing has been my dream since I was eight years old which is when I picked up a pen for the first time and wrote a story. Ideally, I would have liked to have some things published by now, but life and college got in the way. I’ve thought about getting another degree in creative writing but again, is the extra debt worth it? And what kind of job outside of a low-paying job will I find with that? I’m better off sticking with my current degree or pursuing another one that will earn me a decent paycheck and continue to write and work towards publication.

I often think, how great would it be to be able to be a stay at home dad when I have children? I would do the housework, take care of the kids and spend the rest of my time writing. It’s 2017, gender roles don’t or at least shouldn’t exist where it’s unacceptable for the man to stay home. The problem is, I have my own debt, student loans especially. I can’t expect somebody else to pay that off if I’m not making a good chunk of change off of my writing. There’s self-publishing yes, but even that, even with more affordable outlets, it takes time to get a name for yourself and start making enough money to live on. Not everybody will sell as many books as Stephen King even though that is the dream of every writer.

This is what I’m trying to figure out. What would you suggest if you were in my shoes? What are you trying to figure out for yourself? Are you in a similar position? If so, please share in the comments. I hope you figure it out. Let’s figure it out together. In the meantime, I’ll keep job hunting and continue to write and hope to have something ready to go for publication this year, even if it’s a shorter work that is self-published.

-Brett T. Mazzoni


Sometimes, you just have to risk it all and go

I live life by three quotes and they are; “Never give up”, “There is no progress without and struggle and sacrifice” and “Sacrifice everything or accomplish nothing.” I’m not sure where exactly I heard that last one, or if I simply made it up, regardless; I think it is relevant to all of our lives. Now, I have big dreams in life, the ultimate dream, only a few know about. The rest of you will have to wait until the day comes to learn what that ultimate dream is. But in order to get there, the third quote comes into play.

Ever since I was young, I’ve wanted to be two things, a writer and what the ultimate dream if it came true, would make me. My first sacrifice was putting off college for a few years so that I could figure out what exactly I should study and the path I should take to get to where I want to be. This decision led to my double major in Justice Studies (a focus on social justice issues) and Political Science with an emphasis on American Government at Northeastern Illinois University. I sacrificed my time, my social life, and relationships, dedicating my time to doing an extensive amount of writing and research that most students don’t bother doing. This meant undergoing an independent study along with four other classes one semester. The independent study was worth three credit hours and graded like a typical class, for it; I wrote a thirty page paper on US immigration policy from the early 1800’s to the present day. At times, I had to sacrifice sleep working my retail job to pay the bills, doing all of the schoolwork, and on top of all of that, carrying a total of three internships on my back when only one was required. “Never give up” came to mind when I struggled with my college math courses and refused to let the material beat me. In the end, my GPA was high and put me on the Dean’s List for my final two years.

I graduated in December of 2015 and now I am sacrificing everything to accomplish my dreams and my goals. A while back, when I was still completing my Bachelor’s, a good friend whom I have known all of my life offered me a room in California where he had settled after being discharged from the Navy. At first, I turned it down because I was in love and in a relationship of four years. As that relationship entered its fifth year, the woman I loved felt that we needed to go our separate ways, as hard as it was to hear those words, and for as long as it took me to get over the breakup, I came to realize that it was for the best, for the situation in Illinois with the budget impasse and the financial and education crises that the city of Chicago is facing, has had an impact on college graduates looking for work in their respected fields of study, I being one of them and I did not invest the time and the money in college to stay in retail and stock laundry detergent my whole life. The political mess in Illinois is also taking its toll on the state’s public universities which operated for some time without budgets, and are currently running on temporary budgets, this is not good for somebody like me who seeks to obtain their PhD. With all of that said, I asked my friend in California if the offers still stands as I seek opportunity and a badly needed change. He told me, “Yes of course, the offer still stands.” Now onto why this is a huge risk and a sacrifice.

I am headed to California at the end of July with only my car which I am still making payments on, and my few belongings which consist of my clothes, and two storage totes, one filled with DVDs and the other filled with books. There is also my laptop and my cat. That’s it. I’m headed to California without a job, but at least a place to stay. I’m putting a dent in my life savings to get ahead on some of the monthly expenses so that I don’t have to worry about them for a few months as I look for work, and I am certainly putting a lot of hope in getting a job where my friend works which he says, there is a 99% chance that I will in fact get a job, but I am prepared for that 1% chance that I don’t. I am sacrificing it all in order to accomplish my dreams and my goals. I am confident that things will work out, for I always seem to find a way to make it, for I persevere and Never Give Up. I intend on taking a risk and self-publishing some of my works of Science Fiction under my own brand, even though some authors have had great success in doing this, it’s risky, for I will not have the representation and promotional resources of an agent or a well known publisher. I’m taking a big risk and making a big sacrifice, and will make further sacrifices when I attend graduate school and work towards my PhD. Once graduate school is complete, I hope to teach college for a while, research and publish within the fields of Political Science and Social Justice, to continue to write and self publish other works until the day comes to pursue that ultimate dream.

“Sacrifice everything or accomplish nothing.” certainly comes into play here, as well as the other two quotes I live by. But I’ve overcome a lot and I have been offered a golden opportunity in the Golden State of all places, ironically enough, and I must sacrifice it all in order to make my dreams come true. I realized that sometimes, you just have to pick up and go and that is what I am doing. I hope that you will do the same if it means happiness and making your dreams come true and accomplishing your goals. Nothing good comes without sacrifice and struggle. We must not fear those two things as individuals or as groups if success is lying on the horizon.

The Job search of a Recent College Graduate

Like many of you out there, I have worked hard to get to where I am today. I’ve endured setbacks, hardships, and even heartbreak. I had to work and make my own money in order to buy my car, pay for my cell phone, and buy my clothes. Of course, I had help from family along the way, but very little financially. That’s not to say that my family did not lend money to me when I needed it, but it was never for large amounts and expecting help in paying for four years of college was out of the question, my family simply did not have that kind of money, so like most American college students, I had to rely on loans and work near full-time hours while going to school full-time.

Now that I have been out of college for a month, I graduated in December of 2015, I begin the much dreaded job search. I can say that my luck might be a little bit better than some of those graduates who have come before me in recent years, as the job market and the economy has greatly improved these past few years however; there is that one little word that discourages me. That word is “experience”. Now, I’m not the type of person who gets discouraged easily, I always believe that the grass is greener on the other side, but as I browse jobs postings on the numerous employment websites and find something that I might be interested in or falls inline with the two subjects I majored in (Justice Studies and Political Science), I see that word, experience. The employer wants you to have ten years of experience doing this, and seven years of experience doing that. How exactly does a college graduate get “experience” if nobody is willing to give them a shot and allow them to prove themselves.  As far as I’m concerned, I have a lot of experience and there’s not much that I can’t do. I interned for a U.S Senator, worked on a gubernatorial campaign, interned for a nonprofit organization made up of community lawyers who advocated and fought for First Amendment rights in the Northwestern region of Illinois, and have worked in retail for eight years. How’s that for “experience”?

The discouragement on the other side of “experience” are the jobs that are open to you no matter what you studied or how good or how poor your GPA was, and those are sales jobs. I can’t even count how many of these jobs I see everyday, or how many emails and phone calls I get from recruiters for such jobs. I must say, that these jobs postings sound good; they promise good pay, and all of these benefits and perks. You think it all sounds peachy, then you go to a website such as, read the reviews, find out that not only is the pay commission based, it’s also door-to-door, putting wear and tear on your car, and getting doors slammed in your face. There is of course, those reviews about how terrible management is and how poorly they treat you. In my opinion, such employers think you’re an idiot and they set this trap to lure college graduates who have hopes of earning money and going somewhere in the world to their crappy sales job. And all of those marketing job postings you see, most of the time, those are the same thing. The truth is that the concept works like this; you’re a college graduate and you want to make money. You take one of these positions most likely because a recruiter sweet talked you, made it sound like the greatest thing ever and you accepted. While you’re miserable and not making any money, the recruiter just got paid! They’re in it for them, not for you.

Finally, I want to touch on these so called “staffing” agencies. I don’t think they’re a bad thing even though most of the jobs they have to offer you with various employers are temporary, they are a good resource for somebody who has been out of work because they were laid off or for whatever the reason might be, but in my view, this is not practical for a recent college graduate. The reason I say this is because a new graduate is not looking for something temporary, they are looking for something permenant which they can do for many years or in some cases, for the rest of their lives. Recently, I spoke to a woman from one of these agencies, she was very nice and of course was trying to sweet talk me into taking a temporary position with one of the many employers they work with. She told me that many of the people who work for the employers they interact with get hired on after several months of temp work, but how is this practical for a college student who has loans to pay off and can’t afford to be without a paycheck for any given amount of time? And this is what I told the lady, I simply cannot give up the retail job that I have been working throughout college to take a temporary job which might not turn into something permanent and be without a paycheck.

My search of course will continue. I’m looking to get into nonprofit or government, work for a while and publish some writing, which has always been a dream of mine before going back for my Master’s and hopefully getting into politics to help make a positive difference for all, another dream of mine. Before I wrap this up, I want all of you college graduates out there who are in this boat with me, to get two things into your head. One; never give up on your job search. Your first job may not be your dream job, but it will be a step in the right direction. Your first job and your dream job will come, and don’t be afraid to call and follow up on your application. This is not taboo, in fact it is just the opposite and most people will tell you so. Following up, shows enthusiasm and interest for the position. Second; never give up on your dreams, in my opinion, one only fails if they give up. You may not succeed right away, but keep trying and you certainly will succeed. I have not yet found that stepping stone job and certainly not my dream job, but be optimistic with me and we will not fail. Best of luck and may 2016 be your year!