A satirical look at a small community
|I have always contended that most writers go through at least one period of insanity. Some never recover from their first bout; others settle down and piece together a family. My first period came in three stages. The first stage was the overwhelming desire to write something. Not sure what, but some product. Hating the world as I generally do, there are many ideas on which to write. Should I write about the slow decay of American democracy, or is that better left to the so-called experts? How about a soul-searching memoir? No, not nearly interesting enough. How about a fictional tale regarding the struggle of the blue-collar worker? No, too Marxist. Although you don’t have to be communist to realize that, the middle class is largely underrepresented. You don’t want to hear more political garbage, though do ya? I didn’t really think so. Most books written these days concerning that subject are lost and placed in liberal or conservative literary camps. No, that just wouldn’t fucking do.
The second stage was the need for my work to be criticized preceding its completion. This I don’t recommend. I wanted people to tell me how bad or good they thought it was, with little regard to how much it might just piss me off. When you’ve been drinking, and one of your accusers drinks with you, you get unwillingly miffed at their dissection of your gift to the world. And you know what, they’re right a lot of the time. But fuck them, anyway.
The third stage, the one that disturbed me the most, was the constant changing of fonts, indentions, word sizes, chapter titles, and grammar checks. Some sick people in this world use the word editing, but I’m more cynical. It draws you in so that you begin not focusing on what story it is you’re trying to tell, but the way it looks. The way it looks for Christ’s sake! When people had naught but a quill pen and dried up parchment, I doubt their chief concern with the writing was cosmetic. Why is this a stage of insanity? Well, writing isn’t as much about look as content. Trust me, its no toasted onion bagel with cream cheese. I know that makes no sense, get used to it.
When I first read Great Expectations, I discovered a truly evil practice in the world of literature. With a book so old, many people are familiar with the story, so much so that it's already found its way into countless plays and movies and had procured a place in early pop culture. So I should have known the entire story before I even picked up the book, right? Wrong, but whoever wrote the foreword
didn’t see things that way. This guy decided to give away the entire story in the cloak of summarizing its theme, plot point by plot point. By the time I reached the first chapter, I was so well informed that I didn’t even need to read the book to know its outcome. What, I ask you, kind of shit is that? I eventually, to my surprise, read the book, finding solace in the fact that at least the dialogue was new to me. A small miracle, but not enough so that I was happy with this fucking know it all who couldn’t shut his trap long enough to let someone enjoy the one book in the world he was well versed in. That being said, I believe no author should allow unsanctioned writing in his works, lest it shit all over his original intent.
I had a professor in college who gave me what I thought then was the greatest advice an aspiring writer could ever receive. It was a rule of thumb she used that I’ve already violated seven times before this passage. Her rule was never to use the word was, believing it an easy way out. Wow, I thought when I put it into practice, she’s right. It's an amateur device that forces you to be more descriptive. I soon discovered that the only people who could possibly benefit from this bullshit are those born without the natural ability to write. In essence, any rule that makes you deviate from your original thought is just a hindrance, something that breaks up the flow of the way you write your story, or essay, or Penthouse Forum letter. Writing rules are for Journalists, most of whom aren’t true writers anyway, but puppets of some agenda driven organization.
In short my wish is to have nothing but my words between the covers, no matter how relevant (I’m sure that you’ll agree that this miserable drivel is anything but relevant) it seems. My advice, use the word was. Use it early, use it often. Abuse it like a Thai whore. Was is a beautiful word. What else can tell you how great things used to be, and how they’ll never be again?