Strap In

This one could get ugly.

To those writers who believe in the perfection of their words, the loftiness of their craft, the calling that is theirs, please, may I have a moment of your valuable time?

Thank you.

Go fuck yourself.

Wait, that’s too on the point. Let me back up a smidgen, if you’ll allow.

Let me start by saying I have the utmost respect for anyone who tries to cobble together a coherent line or two; fusses over syntax; ponders a new paragraph.
Many friends write in many different disciplines. I do so look forward to their latest creations and the glee it brings them. I can sit for hours listening
to them wax poetic, if you’ll pardon the hackneyed cliche, over their reason for a poignant plot choice. I have commiserated over cups of disconsolation
while they’ve mourned their latest rejection notice.

It’s not a life for the thin-skinned.

Let’s try an analogy, shall we?  I truly enjoy them analogies. The late, great Mickey Mantle (so as not to get bogged down in discussion, we can all agree he was great and is currently, and for the foreseeable future, late) was enshrined in the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, NY with a batting average of .298. That means he failed seven out of ten times when he attempted to ply his trade.

Then what makes you think every word, or even every third word, you write is a fucking gem? It’s not. It’s not for lack of trying, The Mick tried every time
(even when he went up there drunk), but it’s the law of averages. Sometimes you’re going to get a vicious curve that drops off the plate and makes you look
like a total doofus.

It’s the same with writing. Sometimes you’re going to write a line that moves your soul to a better place. Your soul. To other souls? You cracked an egg open
on the paper, locked it in your car, let it sit in the parking lot of the biggest mall in Arizona in August guarded by a lactose intolerant dachshund with dysentery.

And do you know who’s right?

That’s right!

Both of you. It’s all due to perspective. That’s why there are so many books out there. You like that one, I like this one, and that idiot over there, who we both find plebeian, just loves that hack. See? There’s no accounting for taste.

The bottom line is no one is wrong. Writing is all about communicating. Getting a point across. Did you notice I didn’t say your point. Although it is your
point, to a point, it’s conveyed through a character and their voice.

So you’ve got to make that point feel alive in that moment for that character.
Sometimes you’ve got to finesse it. Sometimes it flows. Other times you may have to leave your comfort zone. A phrase that’s perfect for one character changes drastically from the lips of another.

” Yippee ki yay, motherfucker.” Sounds perfect in the voice of John McClane. A rallying cry. But in Hans Gruber’s mouth it’s a garbled and gnarled joke. Yet
they both work for that character in that moment.

And that’s why you self-absorbed dweebs had better stop thinking every word that slips out of your holding tank is sacred. If they were there would be no positions in the world such as proofreader or editor.

Words are tools. Nothing more. Words are used to create something where there is a need. A shopping list, a poem about a dusty road, The Preamble to the United States Constitution. And they all started with a single word: Eggs, Rustic, We. And they are all mere tools to communicate a specific thought: Eating, Driving, Liberty.

But none of those things are perfect. What’s this ‘soy milk’? To quote Lewis Black, there’s no such thing as soy milk ’cause there’s no soy titty. Did he
actually try to rhyme ‘rustic’ with ‘busted’? And the granddaddy of all imperfecting, ah, imperfection, ‘. . .in order to form a more perfect union. . .’
It’s sounds like a schoolyard taunt.

“Nah, nah, nah nah, nah. I’m more perfect than youoou!”

So even in something that gets the point across, perfection is a difficult and slippery slope. So use the tools you have or those you can borrow from a
neighbors dictionary. But don’t get your panties in a bunch because people don’t ‘get it’ because if they don’t ‘get it’ the fault is plainly ‘yours.’ In
your pursuit of more perfection you wandered off Get The Fucking Point Across Avenue.

So dig in and get ‘r done. Don’t try to explain why someone is wrong about your work because it’s futile. If you put a door in my house and it doesn’t close
properly you can give me all kindsa reasons it should but if it doesn’t fucking close you. . .fucked. . .up. Don’t try to distract me with the louver windows
which work just fine.

A slight breeze blows the door open so who needs a fucking window?

Words are tools, like a hammer or ladle. Don’t tell me you have be so fustian because words piss diamond and shit gold ingots because that’s bullshit. They
want to be used and abused. They want to get a happy thought across just as well as a vile.

And they don’t care who uses them. Words are the whores of the
tool shed. A hammer cares if it’s used to bash in someone’s skull because it’s going to live out the rest of it’s days in the police evidence locker. But
words? Nig. . .I think we’ll save that one for another time.

I have friends who write lovely and touching prose. Some of them try to persuade me to come to the bright side and ply my trade in a bed of roses. I have
plenty of thorns in my side right now, thank you very much.

I like using words to hammer someone until their skin sags in horror. It’s in my
wheelhouse. I’m the Mickey Mantle of telling you to go fuck yourself. Which means three out of ten of my quips find purchase in the filthiest of soil.

I like ladling gallons of spew down the gaping maw of those who find insipidness in my method of communication. If you give me nothing else, you’re very
seldom unsure of what I am trying to communicate. Although I don’t take pleasure in it, I’m not bothered when the blood drains from someone’s face when I use a word they find offensive.

What ever happened to ‘sticks and stones may break my bones but names will never hurt me’? Have we devolved so far it’s become ‘sticks and stones can break my bones but words can leave invisible scars that will stay with me for life and be the cause of all my future failures and woes’?

Don’t get me wrong, even I can find words offensive. But, although I’ve tried, I just can’t seem to get anyone to stop using that motherfucking word? You
know what that word is?


So please, all I’m saying is words aren’t special and you don’t have magical powers because you can type them. Feel free to use them. Shit, you can even
revel using them. I sure as hell love writing Heineken on the shopping list.

But don’t coddle them. Let ’em out to communicate. Don’t try to impress with
your inspissate that and belomancy this until there’s grandiloquism up the wazoo. Get the words out, get the thought out and stop being a poopiehead.

If you disagree, if you feel every word which floats from that tar pit brain of yours is a gem to be savored and honored, you are delusional and little more
than a lusus naturae.

Oh yeah, and go fuck yourself.


3 responses to “Strap In

  1. Denver Reader

    My favorite line in the blog, “Words are used to create something where there is a need.” I just wrote that on a yellow sticky and affixed it to my computer screen. Thanks for a great blog.

  2. nice one.very different. cool and hell yeah i agree

  3. I just had a conversation on this topic (or, closer to the truth, I had the pleasure of listening to someone express their opinion on this topic): in the age of Melville, literature was an art form, and in the age of Dan Brown, well, less so. I am of the opinion that neither author used the word “poopiehead” enough for my liking (which is why I enjoy coming here).

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