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Saturday, January 8, 2011

The Definitive Writer's Guide to Writing

1. 9 out of 10 times, you can replace the word "nostrils" with the word "nose" and you'll instantly sound like less of a creeper.
2. A quick-n-easy definition of "mucus" is "gelled waste." However, there's really no need to do anything with that information.
3. Please! No--more--footnotes--in--fiction! Here's a short story: when I first read The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao I was like, "gah, footnotes, that's so genius!" A year or so later, I read some David Foster Wallace (and then my boyfriend became a complete and utter DFW fanatic) and I was like, "gah, footnotes, that's so DFW!" Last night, I started rereading The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao (I mean, I know I'm supposed to be reading Nausea, but ummm...I can't make myself do it), and I was like, "Ew, footnotes, that's so DFW!" The moral of this brief story is that things that are genius but that are also kind of gimmicky JUST CANNOT BE DONE MORE THAN ONCE. I don't know who started the footnote trend: my homeboy Junot or my bf's homeboy David or--could it be?!?!--that incredibly annoying kid Max in my writing class who thought he was God's Gift to Experimental Fiction, but it's just not working anymore.
5. A piece of super-useful advice that Naeem Murr gave me: "Just because you acknowledge that something is a cliche doesn't make it not a cliche."
6. A super-incredible fictiony word that Stuart Dybek taught me: frisson
7. If you can't write, name-drop!!!! Fo' free!
8. META IS OVER.
9. THE BEAT POETS ARE OVER.
10. Can we all get back to the grand old tradition of infusing our writing with a little humor? (I really need to do this...ugh.) My theory is that if a person is under 25 and writing really dark, sad, introspective, fraught-with-meaning, humorless pieces, the most likely scenario is not that this person is a genius with depths that will never be plumbed despite centuries of intrepid biographers and sleepless academics, but that this person's work is just kind of depressing and uninformed. Here's a similar situation: have you ever dreamed of playing Lady Macbeth? (Only every day of my life!!) If so, one day you probably realized (aka "someone crushed your spirit by telling you") that you can't really play Lady Macbeth until you're at least 40. Because there are some depths of the human psyche that you just cannot comprehend as a 25-year-old, no matter how awful your life has been. I don't think you can really be classy and humorless until you're old and experienced (here's looking at you, Joyce Carol Oates).
11. Doling out advice is a great way to avoid staring into the infinite abyss of death, alcoholism, and failure!

I HAVE GOT TO SPEND LESS TIME ON THESAURUS.COM AND THIS STUPID BLOG AND MORE TIME WRITING!!! WHAT AM I DOING WITH MY LIFE?!?!?! WHY IS YOUTH PASSING ME BY?!?!?!?!?!?

By the way, I read this hilariously defensive preface to The Great Gatsby where the reviewer literally said, sans caps, "Yes, Fitzgerald was an alcoholic AS WERE MOST OTHER AMERICAN WRITERS!" 

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You are truly great.