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Thursday, 6 May 2010

Hardknock Life lesson: Volume I

I don't claim to have some kind of universal, Zen-like wisdom toward writing. I can't remember all of the exact rules and proper uses of things, I just know what looks good on a page. I have a journalism degree but in the real world, it's a glorified piece of toilet paper. The ink might stain your cheeks if the thick stock of paper didn't slice it up first.

But, what I can say is there are a few things I think everyone who has a thirst for writing should know. I think of these as my uncommon rules to live by as someone who wakes up daily and hates his life because he's punching a time clock.

1. You shouldn't even THINK about writing till you've read a lot of books. I mean, really. A lot. Like, over 200. I'm not kidding.

If you sit down and existentially immerse yourself into someones world that many times, you know what it feels like to be truly lost. You learn more from retention of how a master crafts an idea, a sentence. Things you'd never think about flow out of your fingers like water. Editing becomes easier and all of the weak crap you thought was killer, will likely be 86ed by the second pass through. All the different voices you can stumble into can and will shape your mind to catch odd little details that later on, when you're punching away at your story about a homeless man's struggle for acceptance in society, you'll remember a descriptive line somewhere and the light bulb will turn on. Read a lot of books. I cannot stress this enough.

2. If you're writing just to sell something that's currently popular, you're totally a fake and no one likes those kind of people. They're like sleazy car sales men who think you're too stupid to catch on to the game they're playing. Art comes from passion and the people who are just trying to cash in are most likely the first person to get the rejection and if they are so lucky to get published, they're the first ones in the bargain bin @ the chains. Don't be that guy.

3. Write stuff. Just because you've got writers block doesn't mean you can't mess around with a poem or a short story. Hell, there a bajillion avenues for writing on the internet. I write about music and pop culture as a means to escape when I want to throw my computer out the window or my focus just isn't there. In the end though, I'm writing and my words get slicker, my ideas are sharper. I'm not a great journalist, but I'm trying and that makes me a better writer when I want to sit down and paint a picture and my words aren't flowing that day.

4. GET OUT OF THE HOUSE. If you're going to write about life, you need to have one. If you write about a guy with a drinking problem, you had better know what it feels like to wake up in the trunk of a car or vomiting in a strange, dirty bathroom. Again, people can smell a fake.
Go for late night walks, get weird. Stare painting and go deep into your own mind and wonder about stuff. That's how the world goes round. Video games are evil. Tv shows usually suck, well, aside from like 5. Get out of your house. Sleep with strangers, steal stuff, hug puppies, eat odd food, put your pants on backwards! Life is meant to be lived, not written about by people with no lives. That's like if Van Gogh used magic markers on Starry Night instead oils...the outcome would look like a bad porno.

5. Don't be a writer dude. Most writer people totally suck. All they want to talk about is really stuffy boring crap. No one in the universe wants to actively sit for hours and discuss how a paragraph made them feel. That's lame pretentious crap. You can re-read a book fifty times because it makes your panties creep in places otherwise unknown. Totally cool. When you get all cordory jacket with elbow patches and a beard on me, I lose my cool.

Books are awesome. Why? Because it's escapism, not a place for you to try and explain to me what I'm feeling when I can say, "WOW, that book was amazing. Something clicked along the way and I can't thank the author enough for giving me that story. I'm sad it's over."
If you are going to be the guy to act like Stephen King is so lame and corporate and tell me I'm an idiot for not reading Crime and Punishment, I'll seriously beat you with a bike chain. Don't be a writer guy. Be a sweetheart who likes to drink TaB and enjoys sunsets. People like people with hobbies that do not include shopping for books that one guy in Russia also enjoyed. I like talking to people who happen to write and enjoy a good beer, maybe a nice steak.

6. Lastly, this is my most personal rule that I live by and some people understand it and some don't. Obsess and obsess and obsess some more. I chose writing as a means of my existence. I suck at most things. I can't do math to save my life ( this is not an exaggeration), I can't fix cars, I hate offices and I really am not good at small talk. I had to pick something to do with my life and I chose to pick up everything I owned and moved away from all of my friends and family because I wanted to be in the place that inspired me the most. I had $300 in my pocket and all of my stuff in my car.

I covered myself in tattoos to remind myself: YOU CANNOT FAIL.

I have to obsess about it. If I'm not at work, I'm thinking about how to better my life, how to be a better artist.

When I'm not reading (See no.1), I'm working on a blog, building "platform" something to know that I can sleep at night. If you're not obsessed and bloodthirsty, how are you supposed to convince the general public that you're the baddest dude/duddette to ever touch a key and put some stuff on paper? You've gotta want it like it was the best piece of sex on the planet and that moment was going to define you as your eyes close and the world fades into nothingness and it's over.


Ps. Dear Brits, can we give BP back? They're F'in up my coast and it's making me very unhinged.

1 comment:

  1. Excellent advice! I found this entry very insightful =)