Wednesday, December 21, 2011
the patron saint of donuts
I am in that benevolent online Writers' Conference type of mood today.
You know the drill.
It's Christmas and Hanukkah, after all, so drop your cash and feel better about giving and generosity, and shit like that.
I will tell you some things.
I get plenty of questions from writers who hand me great heaping stacks of stuff, which they ask me to read and then tell them if I think their great heaping stack is any good or not.
Why would you ask me?
I am insane.
I do not know whether or not your great heaping stack is any good, because it is 50 pages long and appears to be a solitary, single-spaced paragraph. With dialogue in the middle of it.
I am not making this shit up. I have seen this more than once.
Since you, apparently, are not Octavio Paz, I must begin by telling you that you do not know how to write.
I am going to buy a van and paint a clever message on the side of it. I will also paint a picture of myself on it. I will have a slogan, too, as soon as I think of one.
I am going to use this van and travel around the country. Then I will set up one of those folding card tables outside the entryways to expensive Writers' Conferences where people get to speed-pitch and schmooze, and all kinds of other shit that have nothing to do with writing words.
My slogan will be something like: Save money now, ask me how!!!
People will hand me their great heaping stacks and I will tell them to go home and learn how to write.
Do you think that is mean?
Do you think that is meaner than taking money from someone who doesn't indent a fucking paragraph and imbeds undecipherable dialogue within its body?
Somehow, someone has pitched the idea that it is all about the story.
That is a lie.
It is a lie that people who watch too much television and play video games assume to be true.
Writing is about writing.
Writing is about the words.
Ideas do not come before words.
Aristotle was stupid.
You don't get an idea and then make it real with your words.
Words must exist, in all their precision, before an idea can be anything. Your idea comes to you in words. If it did not, you wouldn't know it was an idea.
Here is a lie that people who take your money will tell you:
"Show, don't tell."
What the hell does that mean?
Especially when they tell you that.
They tell you to show. They can't show it, because they need to have words.
All writing is telling. That's what words do.
You know who shows and doesn't tell?
When you hear that said to you, you have obviously signed up and paid for a Mime Conference.
Writers are all about telling.
But I will show you something: