A field guide to creative writing students: Part 4

While in the field this week, you may have noticed a change in the air. It is the third week of the tertiary teaching semester, and in universities across the nation, students are adapting to their new routines. The mass migrations of O-Week are long finished. Most students – save, perhaps, last week’s Uselus lazybastardus – have satisfied their academic needs for now.

The earlier weeks of semester are characterised by panic and uncertainty: will they continue this subject after all? Can they persuade that comely member of their preferred sex to become their lecture buddy or lab partner? What the hell is a pedagogy? Now, this friskiness has largely come to an end. The attentive scholastibiologist will instead spy expressions of resignation and creeping existential dread upon the faces of the university wildlife. It is too late to change subjects, too late to defer the course. The student must complete the unit of study, or perish. Perhaps both.

It can be difficult to come up with a decently developed piece of creative writing by Week Three, which has led to the evolution of this curious creature…


The Bootlegger

Imitor imitor



Can be difficult to identify in the field: Imitor imitor lacks the distinctive features of Megacranius annoia and Midlyfcrisus autobiographiiand may be easily confused with any number of similar-looking species. However, the keen spotter will note two subtle key characteristics in both sexes:

  1. Fandom paraphernalia. A sign of loyalty to a famous intellectual property, worn on the chest, or accessories in females. May also appear on backpack or stationery.
  2. Shifty eyes.



Normally a hesitant, querulous call: ‘Um, Hunger Games? Never heard of it, haha.’



To pass the subject without anyone noticing they stole their ideas from better, more successful writers.


Writing habits

Imitor imitor diligently reads both the prescribed readings and the student piece of the week. She may love reading and watching, but upon finding herself in a writing class, she discovers she has made a terrible mistake: she is a fan, not a storyteller, and she has no original work to submit. Realising that she cannot offer her fanfiction for assessment, she changes the characters’ names the night before, gender-flips the protagonist, adds a new detail to the existing property’s universe and hopes to her chosen deity that nobody will notice.

If anybody calls her on it – ‘This reminds me of Doctor Who‘ – her workshop class will be the last time anybody sees or hears of her again. Many scientists propose that Imitor imitor changes classes, courses or universities, following such an unmasking. A fringe theory holds that one of the moons of Jupiter is populated entirely by Bootleggers who ran away from writing classes. However, it is most likely that Imitor imitor simply applies her talents to her own body, rather than her writing, and turns up to all subsequent classes cunningly disguised as a pot plant.

A gentler approach is required for this flighty species, such as, ‘Paranormal mystery is a really interesting sub-genre; your concept is a lot of fun.’ She may then admit that she was ‘going for a kind of, uh, Dresden Files thing. Homage. But with lesbians. Heh heh.’

This hybrid description will, in fact, match all the feedback she gives others in class: ‘It’s a bit __________ meets ________, with a _________ twist.’

Nevertheless, it is worth being kind to the Bootlegger. If you ever get published, she’ll be one of the few who actually reads your work. (And then copies it.) Join me next week when we dive into Part Five!



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