Writer Girl

When Writer Girl gets up in the morning, she brushes her teeth and takes a shower. Then she gets dressed and puts on makeup (not too much, not like some other superheroes – she wants people to take her seriously). Finally, she brushes her hair. And she’s ready to go for the day.

You probably know what Writer Girl looks like. I’m sure you’ve seen her, at book signings or, you know, just generally fighting crime. The black spandex, sort of like a black turtleneck with leggings. (Did you expect Writer Girl to fight crime in something that looks like a swimsuit?) The black boots. The black utility belt, slung low on her hips, holding her tools: pens that are mightier than swords, erasers that really erase. Vials of poisonous ink that she throws like hand grenades. The glasses with thick black frames that she wears when she wants super insight. And the hair, pulled sensibly back, but flame red.

Writer Girl is really professor Sylvia Sutherland. Sylvia was ekeing out a miserable existence as an adjunct professor at Metropolis Community College, teaching composition courses for a couple of thousand dollars each and living mainly on canned soup, when she came into contact with a book that changed her life. It was hidden behind a copy of The Complete Poems of Edna St. Vincent Millay, and when she pulled it out, a green light shone on her, giving her the superpowers we’re all familiar with. She does not know where the book came from, but she’s hidden it in a safe in her apartment. She’s still trying to find a way to decipher the alien writing that has had such a profound effect on her life.

First, she has a writing workshop to teach. She looks so sensible in jeans and a black turtleneck, with her hair pulled back. Her students adore her – who else at Wayne University has a perfect five on RateMyProfessors.com? But when class is over, she notices a message on her communicator. It’s the police commissioner, who has a direct line to Writer Girl. The Editor is back, and he’s wreaking havoc at the headquarters of The Daily Planet. Writer Girl slips into the bathroom. When she comes out, she’s ready to fight crime, to – if you’ll excuse the pun – write wrongs. Writer Girl knows that’s a terrible pun, but what can you do? Crime fighters have to put up with clichés, you know?

I’m not going to write about her fight with The Editor in the newsroom. Who knows how he escaped from Arkham Asylum in nearby Gotham City. The important thing is that when Writer Girl gets done with him, he’s going back there.

“Don’t worry, Commissioner,” she says. “He won’t be changing commas for a while, where he’s going.”

The commissioner shakes her hand vigorously, and newsboy Jimmy Smithers sighs. He’s got a poster of Writer Girl on the door of his closet. “Writer Girl! Over here!” yells Newt Newman, the photographer, and Writer Girl turns with a flip of her hair. The next day, there will be photographs of her all over the newspaper.

She’s going to be late for a faculty meeting, so Writer Girl crosses the city by cab, riding on top of whichever one seems to be going her way. When people see her, they say things like, “Hey, look, it’s Writer Girl! Ma, get a picture so we can show the folks back home!”

Writer Girl’s most dangerous weapon is WiteOut. She keeps it in a pen on her belt. Today, she used it on The Editor. It wasn’t pretty. Suddenly, he started babbling, not making sense. It was as though all the words in his head had been erased. Who knows how long he’s going to be like that. WiteOut takes a long time to wear off.

Writer Girl makes her faculty meeting. Imagine if the other faculty members knew she was Writer Girl! But she keeps her identity carefully hidden. The writing program at Wayne University is very prestigious. Writer Girl has published three books of poetry, and she’s a regular commentator on NPR. Still, there are parts of her life that need work. Like, she hasn’t dated for a while. Who’s she going to go out with? Batman? The Green Lantern? Superheroes are crazy, she says. But who else is going to understand her? So she goes home, foiling a heist at the Metropolis Library along the way, and sits down to watch Masterpiece Theater. Sometimes she wishes she lived in a Jane Austen movie. But don’t we all?

Afterward, she posts on her blog. What, you think superheroes don’t blog? Tonight she’s blogging about a book she just read that she thought was really good. “Check out The Lighthouse, guys,” she says. “You’re going to like Virginia Woolf, I promise. And don’t worry, The Editor’s back in the asylum. Metropolis is safe for one more day! Signing off, Writer Girl.”

She goes to bed with her large black cat, Shakespeare, curled beside her. Better get plenty of sleep, Writer Girl. You never know who’s going to break out of the asylum tomorrow!

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8 Responses to Writer Girl

  1. Gardner Dozois says:

    Curse you, Writer Girl! I’ll win yet!

    –The Editor

  2. Nick Mamatas says:

    Is she single?

  3. Emily Gilman says:

    “Still, there are parts of her life that need work. Like, she hasn’t dated for a while.” I think that means she’s single.

    Although, in our Facebook conversation Dora established that many different people can be Writer Girl simultaneously, in which case I think it depends which Writer Girl you mean.

  4. Keith Glaeske says:

    Thank you, Writer Girl! I feel more secure, knowing that there are people like you keeping the world safe for literature. Just think if the Bowdlerizer or the Censor ever got loose!

  5. Writer Girl is single. No matter who is Writer Girl, she is always single. All girls get to be single when they are Writer Girl. (Otherwise, what would we do for romantic complications?)

  6. Writer Girl says:

    I’ve written you into a corner, Editor. A corner of your cell in Arkham asylum, to be exact! Say hello to The Censor, and send The Bowdlerizer my best! If you get out, I’m going to be here, waiting for you.

    Writer Girl

  7. Sarah says:

    Charming, Dora. I can see this developed into a graphic novella.

  8. Oh, that would be fun! If anyone wants to draw Writer Girl, I’ll provide the writing. 🙂

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