How to Be a Writing Writer Who Writes
It’s so easy.
Making a shitty living as a writing writer who writes constantly is so absurdly easy. Just follow these four simple steps!
1. Marry a human being who adores you.
You must not skip this step. Find a human animal who thinks that your squat frame is the erotic ideal and your halitosis smells like a gentle spring breeze, then legally bind that animal to you, as in make it financially and emotionally and spiritually impossible for the poor, sad, cornered thing to leave you. Once this animal is sure that there’s no escape, learned helplessness will set in, and soon after that, he’ll not only chuckle dependably when you tell flatly stupid jokes or do a wretched dance in the kitchen and proclaim it your official “Dance of the Day,” but he will also remind you that you are a fucking genius with clock-like regularity. (OK, he might not use the word genius, but when he reads your words and says “This is pretty good” you’ll know that’s what he means. He means you’re a fucking genius and he often thanks his lucky stars for you [that is, when he’s not desperately scanning your dwelling for the nearest exit or, you know, playing dead so you’ll stop talking for a second].)
This adoring, trapped fan-spouse-roommate might make you a terrible writer, but you will be writing. You’ll see the hashtag #amwriting and you won’t even want to gouge your own eyes out with your stubby, chewed-up fingernails, because you will be writing multiple words per day without the help of #binders full of #writingwomen who #amwriting #1000wordsofsummer or #3000wordsofwinter, because you will share a habitat with an animal who often urges you to pour your clumsy words onto the page. Every morning you will wake up next to an animal who, even when unconscious, knows that you are special and talented and it is your calling in life to string awkward words into a fidgety, meandering trail and lead them to non-glory. And when you don’t do the dishes because #writing and you ignore the small animals you made together because #writing, he will understand and accept this and even applaud it, and you’ll let him go play golf which is a stupid sport for worthless idiots.
2. Get up very very early.
This part is exceptionally easy once you are no longer a drunk, and it gets even easier once you’re over the age of 40. Your shifting hormones will command you to wake up at 3 am and 4 am and 5 am and you won’t be able to get back to sleep. But don’t toss and turn for hours, trying to sleep again! What are you, a business executive with a busy day at the office ahead of you? No, you’re a writer who writes and #amwriting always, which means you can go back to sleep whenever you’re done #writing #brilliant #words.
And in those early-morning hours of almost-consciousness, you will discover that your brain is spilling over with random ideas that seem divine at 3 am but later turn out to be pretty goddamn mundane, but by then it’s 8 am and you’ve lathered yourself into a state of frantic masturbatory wordsmithing that lasted a solid 5 hours, you’ve sent those words to one waiting editor or another, and now you’re ready to eat some foods and talk to some of the small animals you made with the cornered fan-victim animal who lives with you.
The rest of your day is for walking your other small animals (the adopted ones who shit in the yard and eat things off the sidewalk) (they also think you’re a genius btw) and for reading books written by people who also probably wake up too early. You have to read during the day, of course, because by the time you drink your singular delicious cocktail reward and speak to your biggest fan-spouse-prey animal (who is legally and emotionally and spiritually obligated to remain your biggest fan until he’s fucking dead), you’re already half conscious. You got up at 3 fucking am, remember? That’s also what you’ll say to your sad handservant animal roommate right before you pass out and drool on the couch and he finishes the dishes.
3. Never get an MFA or even consider getting one.
Have you ever thought about leaving your comfy den and venturing out into the world where other people live, some of whom are pretty sure that they’re way smarter than you and they don’t happen to be legally and emotionally and spiritually obligated to remain your biggest fan until they’re fucking dead? Have you ever thought it might be cool to write words in the company of these self-satisfied skeptics who stubbornly refuse to acknowledge that you are, in fact, the much smarter one, the real talent, the true genius in the room? Have you ever thought it could be useful and informative to surrender your finely crafted strings of words to these naysayers and get their “feedback,” much of which is based on the false supposition that they’re way more intelligent than you are?
Of course you haven’t. Why on God’s green Earth, where you are a self-appointed demigod chugging your own Kool-Aid in your isolated but comfortable cave enabled by your own personal gaggle of insecure support animals, would you consider such a purgatorial path? Do you want to be a writing writer who #amwriting several hours a day (followed by walking, reading, napping, cocktail (1), drooling) or do you want to be a mid-level manager at an organic snack bar company who never writes a word but remembers the halcyon years she was a writing writer among other writing writers with all of the fondness and nostalgia of a Vietnam vet recalling the smell of napalm in the morning?
Even if you dodge the creative PTSD incited by your MFA program and continue to commit words to the page undaunted, you’ll still wind up at AWP each spring, where you’ll be reminded, year after year, that the know-it-all in your advanced short story seminar is now a renowned mid-list novelist whose 88k followers on Twitter love the fuck out of her cleverly captioned photos of her dog Pepe. (Hell, they love the fuck out of her tweets that are just the word “Trump” over a gif of a dumpster on fire.) And that will not do! Because you are the only living writing writer who is a true genius and therefore deserves all of the love, not that Ivy League-educated shit with the bad bangs whose only talent is describing the weather outside through the lens of her protagonist’s shitty mood. I mean give me a fucking break. Get a fucking job already.
4. Get a fucking job at a failing media concern already.
Nothing will transform you into a writing writer more quickly than securing a badly-paid position as a writer at a publication that will fire you unless you write five thousand words a day (OK let’s be honest, they’ll probably fire you either way). Naturally, I’m past this stage of my career, so now I spend most days napping and wandering around in my garden, savoring the infinite mazes of my brilliant mind. But you, a human who wants to #amwriting just like me will require this purgatorial model of enforced productivity. Because even though you would never thrive in the cut-throat realm of overeducated fiction nerds, each of whom believes she is the next Franzen/Tartt/Foster-Wallace/Cusk, here at BlingFad or Breastles.com or BlandBro!, you’ll only have to out-write an office full of hungover hipsters simultaneously recapping the latest episode of Fleabag. You unpack a few adjectives (thesaurus.com) and SHAPOW! You’re better than 98% of the “writers” in the room.
Best of all, your “prose” will elicit “fan mail” from “fan boys” one of whom might just think your squat frame is the erotic ideal. Quickly trap that fan boy / soft target and the rest is literary history!
Wondering how to hunt for insecure support animals in the wild? Write to askmolly at protonmail.com and find out!