Behind Every Great Writer

Behind every great novelist - grant snider

I saw this comic on Facebook (thanks Sandie!) and found that it came from “Incidental Comics,” the website of Grant Snider. Grant has this to say about it:

“This illustration appears in the New York Times Book Review alongside a review by Christopher Benfey of John Sutherland’s “Lives of the Novelists.” Sutherland’s book profiles a long list of notable writers and the personal events that may or may not have influenced their creative output. I tried to distill the typical experience of a literary icon into nine small panels. I’m certain that many of our great writers have worked in a coal mine and owned a small poodle.”

So my question for you today is, how do you complete the sentence?

Behind every great writer is…

Leave it in the comments, and have a great weekend!



  1. Melissa says:

    the realities of life to the fullest!

  2. Tycie says:

    … a secret they’re trying to share.

  3. Mary Sheridan says:

    A barista holding a fresh, extra-large mochachino with whip, cinnamon and a shot of espresso along with a bag of chocolate covered coffee beans, a chocolate chip muffin, and three tiramisu cake pops.

  4. M. Wilde says:

    …someone whose inner world is so rich with scenes, characters and plot lines that reality has no choice but to take a back seat to creative impulse.

  5. Ann Bracken says:

    A blog they follow along with other great writers.

    A real friend who isn’t afraid to be honest about their writing.

    A family that provides a bounty of characters.

    Hmm, I have piano wire right next to me, but I’m pretty sure my husband will object to me hurting his piano!

  6. A prolonged period of unemployment followed by boredom with the regular old hobbies.

  7. Terri Weldon says:

    an awesome God!

  8. Nancy Petralia says:

    an overflowing wastebasket.

  9. Brendan Podger says:

    … an editor who won’t let you get away with c**p.

  10. Betsy Thompson says:

    …a pancake butt.

  11. An over-active brain that seems to come alive at midnight.

  12. J E Fritz says:

    I tiny voice, whispering “write”.

  13. A pile of prayers and tears that I’m hoping God’s saving up for show and tell someday.

  14. The desire to ask the important question: What if? Draw on a factual situation and expound on it with your character who will answer that question.

  15. Sheila Brodhead says:

    Behind every great writer are books that inspired him or her…

  16. Kelly Long says:

    I didn’t read all the comments, so some one might have already said this, but a constant is a bushel basket full of crazy. Yes, the absurb, the quirky, the unexpected, the unimaginable, and unforeseen make up life’s glitter ball.

  17. A butt-load of chocolate.

    And I mean that literally, cause we’re sitting on our booties way to much and that chocolate just naturally collects there…

    Must. Exercise. More.

  18. Peter DeHaan says:

    …is a God-given compulsion to create using words and a patient and tolerant wife who lets me do so.

  19. …a love of words and stories and a lot of hard work.

    Those are the only things that are universal.

  20. Heather says:

    …a stack of inspiring books.

  21. A love for creating new worlds with unusual people and a glass of good wine.

  22. …a helpful librarian and a great public library.

  23. Marie Cauley says:

    I thought of another… the ghost of Ernest Hemingway whispering in her ear, “Now you know why writing drove me to drink.”

  24. Beth Browne says:

    Omg, ROTFLOL! Love the neglected spouse and the piano wire. Too good. Love the cartoon too. You so rock, Rachelle. I needed cheering up today, recently lost a friend to a horrible murder/suicide domestic violence. This gave me the first good laugh I’ve had since Monday. <3

  25. …an obsessed person who is slightly OCD and who has difficulty managing inspiration.

  26. Linda says:

    …is the joy of stringing words together, whether they’re ever published or not.

  27. naureen says:

    Fixed income and a room of one’s own. Virginia Wolf was right.

  28. …a sleepless night.

  29. Didi Nicely says:

    Stacks upon stacks of unfinished AP Statistics homework.

  30. Lori says:

    Lots and lots and lots of caffene.

  31. Behind every great writer is a professional editor, and/or an understanding agent.

    That use to be the case, but with the few Indie authors doing well, I’m not so sure now. πŸ™‚

  32. Tim Klock says:

    …a burning desire to be like Mark Twain who said once he got published, he never had to work again a day in his life.

  33. Donna Pyle says:

    …Starbucks on speed dial and loyal friends leaving daily chocolate fixes on the front porch. πŸ™‚

  34. …the love of story.

  35. Deanna says:

    a group of family members and friends wondering if they are THAT character!

  36. J M Cornwell says:

    I always find it interesting that people think writers are all drunks or alcoholics or both. I agree with most everything else, especially the hard boring work that is the day job (or night job) in order to afford to write, but I’d add a job that sucks the creative juices and life right out of you while still trying to write.

  37. J.M. Bray says:

    A novel that was put on the rack and given time to age. Sometimes it even turns out to be the one that’s published.

  38. Beduwen says:

    … the shadow of a doubt!

  39. Joanne Kraft says:

    A better writer with MUCH better stories. Except she values her relationships more than her successful career.

  40. The desire to fix people – the only way you can fix people is through fiction.

  41. …a massive pile of HORRID manuscripts threatening to escape into the wild and embarass you to death if you stop writing.


  42. Donna Fentanes says:

    a lot of books.

  43. … an enormous stack of great books read deliberately by the writer.

    Write on!

    • J.M. Bray says:

      πŸ™‚ I have every book I’ve read since 1985. Maybe this bodes well?

      • LOL! That’s amazing, J.M. Bray! Could be, considering that much of what we know about our craft comes through a process of literary osmosis. I’ve realized of late we can learn also about excellent writing though works that fall short of that high mark.

        Write on!

  44. Dana McNeely says:

    A grueling day job, which teaches her she must write the same way she works – HARD!

  45. Heather says:

    A really bad wardrobe because we never socialize anyway.

  46. Samuel says:

    many stories he knows he cannot tell…

  47. Sarah Thomas says:

    . . . the Holy Spirit whispering ideas and massaging her shoulders.

  48. Behind every great writer is…

    …a great big, well-used coffee pot, of course.

    ‘cept that mine’s beside me, not behind. Is that what I’m missing? Would I be a great writer if I turned just so….

    …yeah, I need a disclaimer: never mind the strange musings of this half-asleep writer who needs more coffee before going in to do his day job.

  49. Mardi Link says:

    A sore back and a stiff neck!

  50. Leah Good says:

    …even better characters.

  51. …a door through which they want to escape.

  52. Vero says:

    …a critic rolling his eyes.

  53. The determination to succeed on our own merits.

  54. Debbie Watley says:

    A well-used library card.

  55. Isabella says:

    Every great writer has an even better friend. Someone who pushes and say, “Not only can you do it. You will do it, and it will be amazing.”

  56. Sue Harrison says:

    …someone who believes in her.

  57. Katy McKenna says:

    ….is the feeling that there are still some words out there that have never been put in this exact order…yet.

  58. Jerry Eckert says:

    a shy, quirky kid who never had any friends and thus developed this great fantasy world in which he lived.

  59. Bill says:

    …a lot of mistkes mistakes.

  60. Jerry Eckert says:

    A yearning to be something other than mundane.

  61. People who understand what “I’m in a groove” means and walk away slowly.

  62. Angela Brown says:

    S.T.E.A.M. – Something That Encourages And Moving.

  63. Otin says:

    …a stack of unpaid bills.

  64. Gael Lynch says:

    A pair of worn-out writing pants!

  65. A great editor of course! And critique partners! And maybe a father who bought them lots of books as a kid. Love all the answers here and love the cartoon. Thanks for a laugh!

  66. Alice DiNizo says:

    someone who believed in you when no one else did.

  67. Bo Henley says:

    …that annoying relative waiting to say: “I told you so.”

  68. Gwyn weyant says:

    All the imagination that as a kid made you the weird kid.

  69. a great editor who said YES! (Thank you to Alison Barr, Malcolm Stern, Philip Law, Su Box, Rebecca Winter. I simply couldn’t have done it without you.)

  70. Marina Sofia says:

    … is an optimistic belief that the world is ready and eager to hear your story

  71. A story that absolutely insists that it has to be told, and won’t set you free until the job is done – even if it takes twenty-five years!

    • I can relate to that,I have been unable to work due to a accident,so I am trying to get this Book that I’ve had inside me,trying to learn the craft…even if it takes all of my time and energy…which it

      • Anthony, what I did was just write the story that I needed to tell and as I did, I learned so much about the craft of writing. When an editor from a publishing house said that I hadn’t told “the whole story” I began rewrite after rewrite, which has gone on for twenty years. During the rewrites I not only found the “whole” story, but I also learned the craft of writing. Now I am finally onto the final rewrite.

        So may I suggest that it might be best for you to get your story out first, and then in the process of rewriting to polish it up, you learn the craft of writing as you go. That way your story will be fresher and won’t get bogged down in technique, allowing you to be freer to express what you so obviously need to do. Best of luck!

  72. Mel Henry says:

    …an empty liquor cabinet and a good therapist.

  73. Addy Rae says:

    A mom/sister/friend who loves your work no matter how little she/he understands it or how bad it is.

    Also, that neglected spouse? Totally saves my bacon on a regular basis.

  74. Christine N. says:

    … a husband who understands when I talk to myself.

  75. Camille Eide says:

    …a ginormous pile of dirty laundry & dishes.

  76. Camille Eide says:

    …a ginormous pile of dirty laundry and dishes.

  77. Alicia Cooper says:

    A really strange brain and trauma from being a middle child. I think the best writers were probably middle children. If Jan Brady were real, she’d be a best-selling novelist!!

  78. A sore backside from sitting at a keyboard and at least one person who mentored them at a turning point.

  79. A passionate desire, which at times is misinterpreted – both by others and himself – as need.

  80. … is a passionate soul and the fearlessness to risk exposing it.

  81. Teresa R says:

    family drama

  82. Brian says:

    Someone who writes.

  83. Dan Friedman says:

    A jealous, less-great writer, holding a loop of piano wire.

  84. Marie Cauley says:

    …a mother-in-law who wants to know why you can’t just get a “real” job.

  85. A ready supply of M&Ms πŸ™‚

  86. A husband with a “real” job who doesn’t mind doing dishes at home.

  87. Josh Olds says:

    …the hard, unfeeling back of a chair.

Site by Author Media © Rachelle Gardner.