Columns > Published on October 31st, 2017

The 15 Best Costumes for Writers

Halloween is my favorite misunderstood/commercialized "holiday," and dressing up is a big part of it. I know saying people take off their masks and show the world their true selves on Halloween night is a cliché, but it's a good, accurate cliché. In any case, writers are a special breed, so I decided to create a list of cheap costumes for those who plan to go to a party or go ask strangers for free candy. Let's get started.

1. Douchey Magazine Publisher

Dress like you usually do, but whenever someone talks to you, put out your hand and say, "There's a $5 listening fee."

2. Bukowski Zealot

You'll need a cheap suit from Goodwill and a white-ish button down shirt. Slick your hair back and don't shave for a few days, or paint on a few days' growth if you're a woman. Show up with a large can of beer in hand. Talk about horses, snarl at people, vomit on the floor, and scream "Bitches!" before you leave.

3. Poetry MFA Hustler

You'll need chinos and a t-shirt or a long, flowy skirt and a t-shirt. Carry a stack of your MFA's journal with you and hand them out to people at the party. Make sure the journal cover sports a photo of a bird or a cloud.

4. Typewriter

Sure, you're gonna need some foam, a bit of paint, and a decent amount of time and artistic talent, but if you show up to a party dressed as a typewriter, everyone will know what you do with your time.

5. DFW Fan

You'll need a colorful bandana and round glasses. Tell everyone who will listen (and scream at those who won't) that David Foster Wallace is the greatest author in the history of literature. Recount boring stories of what you did at your party celebrating the 20th anniversary of Infinite Jest's publication. Before leaving, make sure you get everyone's attention and explain how that summer in Europe and DFW's work are responsible for shaping your sensibility.

6. Instagram Poet

Take a large, square piece of paper (preferably white) and write a short poem on it. It doesn't even have to be a poem, it can be whatever comes to mind. Hell, write about what you had for breakfast. The important thing is that the font resembles a typewriter. There's a ton of sites you can go to get typewriter fonts, so don't despair. Walk around the party in silence. A second variation of this is called the Misogynist Instagram Poet. It only works for men. It's the same thing as the regular one but you have to insult and belittle all the women at the party, all of whom are more talented than you. 

7. Very Important NYC Agent

Just don't show up to the party.

8. Freshly-Agented Writer

Dress casually, but start every conversation with, "Well, my agent..."

9. Thomas Pynchon's Against the Day

Wear purple pants, a green or yellow shirt, a Viking hat, one tennis shoe, and one sandal. When folks ask who you are, answer in English, Russian, and French. Pretend to fly around the room, but mention you're flying underground. Be the last person to leave, and make sure you confuse the fuck out of everyone.

10. The Name Dropper

Wear jeans and a hoodie. With your hands in your pockets, make sure that you name at least three famous writers you supposedly know every time you open your mouth.

11. Southern Grit Author Wannabe

You'll need old boots, somewhat dirty jeans, and a baseball cap. Try to talk like you were born and raised in West Texas or somewhere in North Carolina. Talk about hunting, fighting, fishing, and how tough it was growing up with nothing even if everyone knows your parents are loaded and have allowed you to "do the writing thing" for the last half decade.

12. Writer Who's Been Working on a Novel for Eleven Years

Wear a nice pair of pants, a single-color button down shirt, and loafers (women can substitute the regular pants for capri pants). Talk about your last vacation, the book you're reading, and some popular television show. When the conversation inevitably comes around to what folks are currently working on, talk about the novel you've been working on for the past decade. Mention how great it will be, and then remind them how long it took Tom Wolfe to write The Bonfire of the Vanities. Tell them it's all good. You got this. Cry before running out of the party. 

13. English/Journalism/Writing Lecturer

Jeans and a really old coat. Scarf is up to you. Disheveled hair. Look hungry as fuck and eat everything at the party. Drink as if you can't afford booze. Remind everyone that you published a novel a couple of years ago and whisper something about teaching at seventeen different places in the last six years.

14. Rejection Letter

Take all your rejection letters and staple them to your clothes. Stand in a corner shaking your head and wondering what the hell is wrong with your writing.

15. Unfinished Manuscript

Put on pants and a shirt you were ready to throw out and then cut holes in them. Wear only one shoe. Don't comb your hair or wear makeup, you are, after all, unedited. Stand behind people quietly, but demand attention with your eyes, you damn pain in the neck.

Now tell me which costume is your favorite. What will you go as this year?

About the author

Gabino Iglesias is a writer, journalist, and book reviewer living in Austin, TX. He’s the author of ZERO SAINTS, HUNGRY DARKNESS, and GUTMOUTH. His reviews have appeared in Electric Literature, The Rumpus, 3AM Magazine, Marginalia, The Collagist, Heavy Feather Review, Crimespree, Out of the Gutter, Vol. 1 Brooklyn, HorrorTalk, Verbicide, and many other print and online venues. Y

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