March Is The Month Of “Penmonkey Boot Camp”
(I don’t really think you’re maggots. You’re all lovely people. Well. Most of you. There’s a few of you out there, with your squirrelly eyes and your sweat-slick palms. Fiddling with your pockets. I know you’re up to something. Be advised: you’re being monitored. Weirdos.)
Fellow penmonkeys: each of you, stick out your chin.
Open your mouth a little. Smile. No, really. Smile!
Because it’s time for me to punch out your baby teeth.
This is the month of no-holds barred writing advice. I will rant. I will rave. My spitflecks will land in your eyes and you will need to blink them away and as you’re blinking them away I will jam my wingtip up your pooper and cram a fountain pen in your neck and I’ll suck up a draught of your neck-blood and then together in your blood we shall write a list of our failings as writers so that we may overcome them.
Or something like that.
Fact of the matter is, we writers are our own worst enemies: so much of the time it feels like we’re in our own out-of-control minecart, speeding toward an uncertain resolution. Fuck that shit, George. No more of that. It’s time to get control of the minecart. It’s time to stop dicking around. It’s time to learn where our failings might be. It’s time to call out our worst excuses so that they may be trampled under foot. It’s time to gaze ahead and find purpose and plan. You will improve your craft. You will dispel illusions. You will discover the kind of writer you are and the kind of writer you want to be.
Okay, I don’t know that any of this is really true. You might not learn shit from me. But by god, that’s not going to stop me from gargling meth and screaming in your faces for 30 days, will it? Woo!
So, you’re on notice, compatriot penmonkeys and ink-badgers. It is time to shit or get off the pot.
Ah! But! I need something from you. I need you to tell me where you feel like you’re falling down. It’s time to evaluate your shit, hombres. I have some posts already percolating in the septic bubbler that is my brain, but I need some of you to step into the firelight and say, “You know what? This is where I’m sucking hind tit right now. I want sweet milk, but all I’m getting is a mouthful of rancid brine.” Feeling like you can’t muster the discipline? Got plot problems? Don’t grok structure? The rewrite burning your short-and-curlies? Plagued by self-doubt? Throw it out there. Whatever it is, I’ll paint it on the back of my hand and slap the problem out of your skull. Because that works, right? Violence and rancor solve everything!
I don’t promise to address everything. I am only human, after all. Well, okay, I’m 12% cannibalistic humanoid underground dweller and 7% insane spam robot. But I’m also 0.03% Cherokee, so that gets me all kinds of sweet-ass motherfucking tax breaks.
So. You. Go. Comments. Now.
Before I conclude this post, a quick word:
I reiterate this a lot but given the sometimes cranky attitude toward writing advice and the dubious dispensers of said advice, I feel like it bears repeating: none of my advice is sacrosanct. It is not Penmonkey Law. It is not the Word of God. The issues I address are issues that I have myself dealt with and what you read here are generally my own personal solutions. You are free to examine them and deny them at your leisure. You are free to disagree with me, and in fact, disagreement is good. When you receive a piece of writing advice and you hold it up and gaze into its unblinking eyes, you make a decision: “I totally will dig on this,” or, “You know what, this just isn’t for me.” And at that point you’ve done what you need to do as a writer: think about your craft. You’ve made an evaluation and have come to terms with what kind of writer you are and, more importantly, why you are that way. Self-examination leads to self-determination, which in turn leads to… well, I think it leads to pie. Or maybe cake. See, even there, you’ve made a critical distinction: do I prefer pie or do I prefer cake? Answer honestly, because it will determine if your name goes on the list for the next pogrom.
That being said, tomorrow I welcome you to the Penmonkey
Reeducation Boot Camp.
Please sit still in the barber chair as we shear your head so that the tinfoil cap may sit as close to your brain as possible. Here, too, is your
cyanide packet Kool-Aid drink mix.
See you in the comments, and catch you tomorrow.