(But don’t think I’m not still giving you people the Milky Stink-eye.)
I’m here to bring the news. Seriously. It’s a newspaper wrapped around a fish, and in the fish is a bunch of stinging insects, and you open the newspaper up, and you’re like, “Oh, goddamn, this fish stinks,” and then the fish’s mouth opens, and all these stinging insects fly or crawl out, and next thing you know they’re on your hand, and they’re stinging the shit out of you, and then you you don’t even smell the fish anymore, because you’re like, “No! Holy shit! SNAARGH! Why were there angry insects inside the fish! Who did this to me?”
And then you realize. I did it. I did it to you.
People who call yourselves writers — I’m talking to you on this one. I’ve got three things I’d like to say. Actually, I’m going to yell them. Just imagine me yelling them at you. Flecks of spittle and all. I’ll spare you by not writing all in caps and using an unholy fistful of exclamation points, but don’t think I don’t want to.
Number One: You Might Not Actually Be A Writer
You fake writers have really fucked it up for us real writers. Yeah, I said it. I go and I tell most people I’m a writer, and they give me this kind of lame half-nod, this tiny curl to the lips, and part of me always wondered why that is. Their eyes laugh like I have a stain on my shirt. Do they so easily dismiss the profession? That’s probably part of it (even though writers are in all corners, writing ad copy and toaster manuals and shit), but the other part? There’s too many people out there who call themselves writers, when they’re no such thing. Oh, I know, we want to be huggy-feely-cushy-kissy blah-blah-blah, “Oh, everybody can be a writer, some people are hobbyists, some people are just unpublished, they’re all under our tent.”
Eff that ess, em-effers. This is my tent. Get out! You’re stepping on my comic books and you knocked over my drink. Seriously, when did we let hobbyists of this particular stripe call themselves writers? We need to put our boot down, Real Writers. We need to tell these people what’s what. We need to take their cookies and eat their cookies in front of them, with crumbs all falling out of our mouths in wasteful mockery! I don’t mean to rain on your parade, no. I mean to wildly urinate all over your parade, like an epileptic peeing mid-seizure. God’s Great Golden Shower.
Here’s the thing. I love playing with Photoshop. I’m getting pretty okay with some parts of it. I play with it for many an hour a night. But I’m not a graphic designer, and I don’t call myself that.
Last couple summers, I helped put up our fence, and helped cut and build our deck walkway. Am I a fucking carpenter? When someone comes up to me on the street, and asks me what I do, do I say, “I’m a fucking carpenter?” No, I do not, because if I did that, a real carpenter would pop out of a manhole cover and bury his hammer in my skull. (I had originally written, “bury his hammer in my ass,” but I didn’t want anybody to mistakenly assume I meant he got gay with me. Nothing wrong with getting gay, but I really wanted to be clear about violence, and not intimate that my carpentry poser maneuver earned me gay love.)
My wife and I played Frisbee the other night at the park. Maybe we’re now both Frisbee Champions? I mean, we both won. You can’t really lose at Frisbee. We’re Champions! At Frisbee! Fuck yeah!
No. No, we’re not Frisbee Champions. I’m not a carpenter. I’m not a graphic designer.
But writer gets some kind of namby-pamby wishy-washy artist-flavored miasma floating around it, like it’s a social identifier similar to “hippie” or “cat-lover.” Listen, I’m not saying the only qualifier for “writer” is, “I get paid to do it.” Except, it is. See what I just did there? Hah! Suckers. Seriously, you at least have to have aspirations to do this professionally, aspirations that you back up with exploration of the craft. Then, feel free to call yourself an “amateur writer,” or an “out-of-work writer,” or an “aspiring writer.” Fine. Okay. Yay for you. But don’t insult me and all the other writers who have scraped their knuckles raw climbing to our (admittedly meager) heights. Stop watering down our heady brew! Writers work really hard to be writers. Stop pretending you worked as hard.
You might be good. You may be great. You may deservedly climb higher. But do it first before you go claiming you’ve already done it. Dig? Dug.
Okay. I’m all tapped out. My faux-rage is waning. But I’ll be back tomorrow, blockheads. Tomorrow, I’m going to go against popular convention and tell you why Number Two: Shame Is Awesome. (No, not Shane. Though, that movie is pretty awesome. I’m talking “shame,” like, “I prematurely ejaculated on my date’s sundress, and now I feel a soul-crushing burden of shame.”) See you tomorrow!