A field guide to creative writing students: Part 2

Welcome back to my field guide to the unique and delightful creatures of the university creative writing faculty! Attentive scholastibiologists will remember last week’s spotlight on Megacranius annoia, and its distinctive habits. Perhaps you have encountered this species in the field. Perhaps you have even spotted him fitting into some other ecological niche – reading Nietsche   Neitzche  Nietzsche in the corner of a train carriage, or cheekily masquerading as Barista superior in that cafe down the street which serves everything, even sandwiches, in a jar.

This week, we’re continuing our exploration of the family Scripturae with…

The Second-Identity Seeker

Midlyfcrisus autobiographii



Hair greying at the roots. Expressive lines about the face. Females sport long wing-like shawls, and assert dominance and wisdom by ornamenting themselves in bright, musical jewellery.

Males more commonly appear in earth camouflage hues, favouring cardigans older than the mean age of the rest of the class. Encroaching baldness does not preclude the wearing of a ponytail.



In general, a pleasant cooing: ‘I thought your piece was just lovely.’

Strange, discordant use of slang: ‘a mem I saw recently on the web’.

Individuals of genus Midlyfcrisus always have a story to tell about their wealth of life experience, whether or not this is relevant to the class. M. autobiographii is also highly inquisitive, and helpfully clears up confusion for any other students by questioning lecturers and tutors often and rigorously.



To write their memoir.

Alternatively, to write the next great Australian novel.

Minor subspecies Midlyfcrisus autobiographii obnoxius: to write and self-publish her memoir, which will be the next great Australian novel, because oh boy, she has been around the block and let her tell you, kids, she has got some amazing stories. Once, she bought Neapolitan ice-cream, only to find it was all vanilla! So she took it back to the shop and exchanged it for a new tub, but this time when she opened the lid, there was an actual tiny Italian man hiding in there!

And that was how she met her second husband.


Writing habits:

Most Second-Identity Seekers have spent the majority of their time on this good earth doing something they hate, and turned to writing in order to find themselves. And good on them. Better late than never, M. autobiographii chuckles, with just the barest sparkle of panic in the bespectacled eye.

Unfortunately, members of this species often draw the wrong conclusion when they observe the proportion of successful writers that are around their own age. They are prone to equating life experience with writing experience, often failing to realise that years lived does not automatically equal years practising a rather difficult art form.

Second-Identity Seekers are likely to have rusty grammar, and to struggle with the concept that a plot is not just a bunch of stuff that happens. Their work is at high risk of being twee.

However – with the exception of subspecies M. a. obnoxius – they are often kind reviewers. They diligently read the workshop material and dispense warm and earnest (if entirely nonconstructive) feedback. Maternal females of subspecies M. a. generus bring cake on the last day of the class.


Share your field observation of this species in the comments!



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