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Thursday, August 12, 2010

Instead of a Short Story, I Give You This


Ahh...writing about writing. It feels so comfortable, like a well-worn pair of jeans or a joke about homeless people. It feels so safe. No one can reject THIS writing. I'M LOOKING AT YOU, MCSWEENEYS! I'M LOOKING AT YOU, PERSON WITH A FOREIGN-SOUNDING NAME WHO CAN'T EVEN USE PROPER LINE BREAKS BUT HAD THE NERVE TO TELL ME MY STORY WASN'T RIGHT FOR YOUR "MARKET!" WTF DOES THAT MEAN, YOU SELLOUT? YOU'RE AN ONLINE LIT MAG WITH NO ADVERTISING. THERE IS NO MARKET. NO ONE EVEN READS YOU. I DIDN'T WANT TO GET ACCEPTED ANYWAY. I WANTED YOU TO REJECT ME. SO THANK YOU. I'M HAPPIER NOW. REALLY, I AM. I'M BETTER OFF WITHOUT YOU. WHY DON'T YOU LOVE ME?

Over the past vaguely significant-sounding period of time, I have realized a few things about myself and my husband, Fiction, and I would like to share them with you all. Shall we begin?

1. I can't take criticism. I think I might actually believe I am smarter than everyone else. Isn't that awful? If the New Yorker rejected one of my stories (not that I've submitted there, I'm not that delusional), there would be a small part of my soul that thought, "Whatevz. What do they know." UGH. However, sometimes I am smarter than people, and sometimes I do know better. Like the boy (I'M LOOKING AT YOU, LOGAN) who told me that the character of the Devil, in my story, was underdeveloped. IT'S THE DEVIL. You don't develop the Devil's character, I'm sorry. The Devil just is. He Is. That's what makes it all so creepy. But whatever. Maybe he was right. Maybe I should go back to being a car mechanic. Maybe I do look cute with grease smeared under my nose so that in some lights it looks like I have a mustache. I must learn to be humble if I ever hope to be the greatest person alive.

2. To be an artist, you gotta be a little indulgent with yourself. I don't mean that your art should be self-indulgent-- because then everyone will vomit on you. (And pee on you.) I'M LOOKING AT YOU, CREATIVE NONFICTION. But you need to find out what works for you--the optimal situation for producing your best work--and then let yourself do it. For me, the only time I will write is on my lunch break. When I get home at night, I just want to make my boyfriend take me out for dinner and read Vogue. On the weekends, I just want to see my friends. But I will write on my lunch breaks. Now, that requires spending approximately $40-60 a month on COFFEE. I know, it's like having a child or something. But it's just something I have to do to write, and so it's worth it. I also need--this is pretty embarrassing--I need people to compliment my writing or I lose all faith in myself. (That's why I'm an "E" in the Myers-Briggs personality test.) Thankfully, I have you, oh mysterious ghostly blog readers, and I also have my best friend STUART DYBEK. So find whatever makes you produce and spring for it. I'm sick of people telling me what a lonely, rocky, haunted, vulture-filled, body-pieces-lying-around-in-unexpected-places journey it is to be an artist. I'm not ready to concede that that has to be true.

3. Writer friends are THE BEST. Find out why, right after the break!


  • Just like me, writer friends are extremely susceptible to depression about the innate tragedy of the world around them. Normal friends won't understand when you say you almost cried seeing a woman's face light up about cookie samples, but writer friends will.
  • Writer friends are budding alcoholics. Couple this with a tendency for depression, and you get phenom.gov ideas like "drink-till-you're-happy hour." You can also say things like "let's drink until the black oblivion of our lives is but a mere whisper in the Eustachian tube of the angels" and they will compliment you on your poetic genuis. (No they won't. Writer friends don't really let you get away with things.)
  • Writing friends are smart, but love to gossip. It's the best of both worlds, like having a hot man who can cook, or finding that rare type of homeless person who's also a masseuse.
  • Writing friends are funny. It's not unusual to find a brilliantly-written parody poem in your inbox. (I'm looking at you, Chelsea.)
  • Just like me, all writer friends are/will be poor, so there's none of that awkwardness when you go out to dinner with some biddies who work for the stock market and they're like "waiter, bring over the Dom," and you're like "I'll just have water" but in your head you know you're extremely susceptible to depression about the innate tragedy of the world around you and this, coupled with your budding alcoholism, requires a stiff drink...no, your writer friends will order the fries, and then sneakily get everyone to pay (I'm looking at you, Chris). 
  • Writer friends give the most amazing compliments (which, as you know, I need to survive).(I'm looking at you, Lisa!) Take, for example, what my friend Chris scrawled on top of a recent short story of mine: "You are a triple-G: genius, goddess, gangster." I MEAN!
Now that I've complimented myself by innocuously posting someone else's compliment, I think it's time for me to fix my husband, Fiction, some dinner. He likes to eat the souls of young writers, seasoned with the slightest hint of idealism and terror. He resents the implication that he is dead.

6 comments:

  1. Me and my creative non-fiction blog think you are a self-indulgent ninny who cannot take criticism. We have elected you our collective mortal enemy.

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  2. I, on the other hand, think you are brilliantly hilarious, and officially offer to get you drunk, in true writer-friend (and Russky) style, on Saturday.

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  3. Willy, you are the best thing to ever happen to CNF. Never change! (Except into a fiction writer.)(And I'd love to be your mortal enemy!)

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  4. Tori! Why are we not together in a hippie tree in the deep forests of California with the homeless people?

    More importantly, why aren't we together buying bottles at cheap liquor stores and getting stranded at taco places in the heart of Chicago during random hours of the night? ...All the while going to multiple gay bars and posing as a lesbian couple?

    I mean...just kidding. :)

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  5. ps, this is not an addendum to the "budding alcoholism" and "innate tragedy of the world around you" remark.

    and pps, i hope you're well

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You are truly great.