The Terribleminds Disclaimer

Last week, you may have seen a little post of mine called, “Turning Writers Into Motherfucking Rock Stars.” The notion behind the post was, hey, you know what will save publishing? If writers start acting like petulant rock stars, replete with destroyed motel rooms, phatty cribs, and kitten-eating.

The post went viral. The blog mentions Neil Gaiman and was in turn retweeted by Neil Gaiman, which was awesome in all senses of the word. I watched my page count spike like the heart rate of a guy who just chewed up a bag of meth crystals like they were Cheerios. I was waiting for the fabled #neilwebfail, wherein he turns his gaze toward your website and followers pour out of the woodwork and the website tries to lurch forward but instead collapses from a deep vein thrombosis and needs to take an hour-long dirt-nap just to cool off. Thankfully, this old gal held steady and stayed on course despite the battering of many Internet waves, and came out stronger for it (and, of course, I appreciate the retweet by Mister Gaiman and all others who shared the love). The post seemed to get a lot of good attention and lots of folks thought it was fun.

Because it was a joke.

Of course it was a joke.

When I said:

Rock stars get the ‘concept album.’ We should be able to have the ‘concept novel.’ “This novel’s not just a bunch of words, man. All the chapters form together into a single story. Yeah. It’s pretty revolutionary.”

…I was not actually suggesting the creation of a concept novel where the chapters form a single story. That’s what a novel already is. It’s not revolutionary. That’s the joke. Maybe not a funny joke. That’s between you and your own personal flavor of Jesus. But I would’ve thought that its status as tongue-in-cheekiness, as satire, as me-just-making-shit-up-to-attempt-to-be-funny was as clear as the pealing of a bell if the bell were ringing inside the bone cavern of your own skull.

But then I saw a whole lot of folks taking my post seriously. And arguing against it. As if I had attempted to make a serious point, as if I were really saying, “You know what we need, we don’t need good books, we need more Snooki.” *rad guitar lick*

On Metafilter, on Twitter, on Fark, I saw a surprising handful of comments that actually took my bullshit seriously. For a moment, I wondered: did humor die? Assassinated by a lone gunman? Was irony shot in the face on a hunting trip, left to bleed out in a ditch? Was I not obvious enough? Did I need to pepper my post with a dozen smiley faces? Should I have drawn a bunch of hastily-scrawled dicks across my post, the dicks jizzing little pee-pee bullets from the ink-smeared tips?

The thing is, this is not the first time this has happened. I write at least five blog posts a week, which even I consider to be marginally insane, and once in a while one of those posts really catches fire and draws attention. Inevitably, whenever this happens, I get a round of people — commenters, e-mailers, Redditors, what-have-you — that end up taking the post way too seriously.

So, it seems high-time for a disclaimer.

I am full of shit.

I’m usually just fucking around.

I just make stuff up.

I do it to be funny. I do it to yell at my 18-year-old self. I do it to yell at dilettante writers. I do it because I’m happy, sad, cranky, churlish, cantankerous, or drunk.

I often say things, then change my mind.

I contradict things I said a year ago, a month ago, ten minutes ago.

I curse like a motherfucker. My father cursed. My mother cursed. It is in me.

I often adopt the tone of a coked-up penmonkey drill sergeant.

Am I really like this? Ehhh, sometimes.

I’m certainly blowhardy and buffoonish, but here at the site I definitely crank the volume. Most people who meet me find that I’m ultimately more serious when traversing the physical plane of reality.

What I’m trying to say is —

Do not take me too seriously.

If you find value in the things I say, whether it’s as a laugh or as a snidbit of writing advice you feel like you can adopt and take to the bank, then I am aglow with pleasure, the cilia and spore-pods that comprise my beard twitching and writhing in blog-addled bliss. If you find no value in what I say, then I’m not mad at that. Don’t like that I curse? Don’t like my dubious writing advice? Can’t see past the self-deprecating tongue-in-cheek ‘tude? Feel like I’m insulting you? Then be on your merry way. And I don’t say that with anger. I don’t say that like, “Then get the fuck off my lawn, you damn dissenters! Take your disagreeable turd-cutters elsewhere!” I mean to suggest that it’s okay. Don’t hang around here if what I say bothers you. Life’s too short to let me bludgeon you over the head with my blog-hammer, my word-cudgel.

Do I sometimes try to be serious? Sure. Do I take writing seriously? You betcher sweet swirly nipples I do. I take writing and storytelling — art, craft, and business — quite seriously. And I do like serious discussion and I do enjoy real communication and conversation. But nine times out of ten, my posts shouldn’t be enough to get you riled up. I don’t want to get you riled up. It’s not worth your time or mine.

So, that’s it. That’s my disclaimer. I’m just over here squawking into the void. I’ve said this in the past but my goal here is first to enlighten. When that fails, it is to entertain. And when that fails, it’s to dazzle you with creative profanity so you at least feel like you got something out of the whole experience.

(“Cock-waffle.” “Vag-badger.” “Fucksluice.”)

(See? SEE?)

I want you to enjoy your time here and maybe learn something. I know I learn something every time I post about writing because it’s me sorting out the sticks and pebbles of my own brain.

If you’re not enjoying it, if you’re not learning it, then don’t sweat it. Relax. Take a deep breathe. Pulverize some Lorazepam in a mortar and pestle and stir it around your Tang then take a big ol’ hefty drink.

Because, really, I’m probably not as serious as you think I am.

End of disclaimer.

Have a nice day.

*insert smiley face and marker-drawn dick-and-balls*

48 responses to “The Terribleminds Disclaimer”

  1. So, I’m just going to take a moment to warn you that I may be taking you seriously re: that last post as some point in the future. Because there was a glimmer of truth in there about making reading exciting. But it’s just the glimmer that I’ll treat that way, I promise. The rest of it caused me to laugh my ass off.

    Thank you for the hilarity. I needed that last week. 🙂

  2. As always, I love you. Because you are a fucking genius. A genius with a golden, profanity-engraved tongue. Thank you for being so damn awesome all the damn time. That is all.

  3. Happens to me all the time, just not on that scale.

    What I love are the people who write into the newspaper where my column runs, unhappy because a satirical column isn’t serious enough and doesn’t contain “cogent analysis and argument.” I do cogent analysis and argument, but for a hell of a lot more money that the paper pays me. For those prices, snark and mockery are what you get.

  4. I got it Chuck, but then I’ve been struggling with a wildfire outside of Reno. Maybe I don’t have time to balance each word on a gram scale. This is a writing site and a humor site. I let it go.

    That said, I take information from all the comments, and like them.

  5. I had it in mind to make a snarky, sarcastic post in a pitiful attempt to be funny, but honestly I’m too impressed by the brush with #neilwebfail. Plus I’m secretly jealous you got a viral post (that didn’t involve having a complete meltdown).

  6. I’m still laughing at the fact that people have no sense of humor. Seriously, if it wasn’t for Wendig I would have kept the word fuckbat to myself.

  7. If gems of wisdom via creative profanity was a religion, you would be the Super Grand Master Poobah on High Ninja-Slayer Extraodindaire. People would come from everywhere to worship at your blog, intoning the mantra, “Ooohmmmm fuck-knuckle cock-waffle… Ooooohmmm fuck-knuckle cock-waffle…”

    Hold on. Doesn’t that happen already?

    Eh. Haters gotta hate.

    • @Colleen:

      Oh, you betcha.

      One tweet said: “I find this notion that “literary rock stars” will save publishing completely misguided – celebritization not the answer.” Then linked to the post.

      The comments on Metafilter (100+) range from getting the joke to totally, tooootally not grokking the satire.

      Earlier someone took me to task for being insulting? (Admittedly regarding another post, my most recent “25 Ways” post.)

      I figured it was high-time for a disclaimer. 🙂

      — c.

  8. Jesus H Monkeyfucking Christ. I am so sorry that this was necessary.

    I know there are a bunch of idiots on the internet, but come on. This is satire that’s about as subtle as getting hit over the head with a haddock.

    I weep for humanity.

  9. I hope you’re not taking a drink of something as you read this, Chuck. I’m about to compare you to Jesus, and I don’t want you to spew your Tang across the table.

    Jesus spoke in parables so his followers would get it and outsiders wouldn’t. All your wisdom about cock-waffles and motherfucking rockstar writers aren’t supposed to be understood by those who sport broomsticks up their asses.

    These same idiots will probably pee their pants because they’ll actually think I’m putting you in the same league as the Messiah — which I am.

    🙂 🙂 🙂
    B— B— B—
    (happy faces & dick-and-ball pics — means I’m joking)


  10. Welcome to the internets.
    It’s also a good reason never to write your newspaper a Letter to the Editor, unless you want Space Hitler’s manifesto mailed to your home address.

  11. Dave Barry did a great column about people who just don’t get the joke, which, while funny, is also sad in a way because it’s so true. I think it might be because some people take anything written down as being serious. Maybe?
    Anyhoo, the Dave Barry piece is here if you’re interested:
    (Warning: This column includes jokes about Richard Nixon. If you do not know who Richard Nixon was, do not attempt to fill that void in your knowledge. Ignorance, as they say, is bliss.)

  12. One tweet said: “I find this notion that “literary rock stars” will save publishing completely misguided – celebritization not the answer.”

    Waving madly. Oh, Oh! I know this guy. He was in a creative writing class with me. Only guy I ever met who could braid his beard with one hand. Never did find out what he did with the other one.

    Celebritization? Really. Wow. That’s a word, right? Last used around 1985? I know about fuck bats and cock waffles, (you’ve trained me well) and I’ve just added turd cutters and pee pee bullets to my lexicon, but celebritization? I can’t even say it without an hour of practice. Hey, maybe it’s a turd cutter.

  13. You’re not doing satire right unless you’re truly fucking with people’s heads. Which means some of them won’t see the satire and will expose themselves as a ripe target for satire. if Swift wrote today he’d have to deal with clueless tweets saying stuff like: “This monster wants us to eat Irish children! Why haven’t the cops arrested him?” Colbert has conservative fans who think his talk show host persona is sincere, for crying out loud.

    This is one reason why I’m rather earnest on the internet. I care too much what others think. It’s not a virtue. I’m working on it. But don’t let them squash you, Chuck. Stick to your funny guns.

  14. Wait, you mean you really were joking about being literary rock stars? Er, I knew that. Right, right. *Gets on the phone and begins returning the thousands of dollars worth of David Bowie glam rock make up*

  15. I hate to be the one to rain even more guano on your parade, but the way the world works these days, I wouldn’t be surprised if one of the humorless dolts who takes your posts seriously decides to act on your insane advice, and someone ends up suing you for inciting the resulting damage. Isn’t that a cheery thought?

  16. “The ancient babies slept inside the coal-warmed corpses of white stags, sucking on river pebbles, their fists clenched around the puffy gloved fingers of the alien astronauts who founded the first civilization in Catal Hayuk.”

    You’re saying…you’re saying that was all just LIES?! *weeps* Chuck, how could you!!

  17. Dude, some people simply won’t get you. Ever.

    Besides, you’re a writer. And writers are misunderstood in the extreme. And that’s why they swear, and drink, and make asses of themselves.

    I thought you knew that. Wow.

  18. Wait. The post was a JOKE?

    Oh shit.

    *begins typing*

    “Dear Barnes & Noble of Manassas,

    Please forgive my deplorable behavior at my recent book signing. I’m sure the manager will recover from his spanking, and the bite marks will fade. With time. Also, please bill to my Paypal account the broken storefront window. And also bill to that account damages to the espresso machine. And the Nook display. And the torched copies of Twilight. And….”

  19. “Should I have drawn a bunch of hastily-scrawled dicks across my post, the dicks jizzing little pee-pee bullets from the ink-smeared tips?”

    Okay, I admit it, this is sort of what I imagine a long-hand first draft of a Terribleminds post might look like, if you’re at all like me and tend to doodle while mulling over a turn of phrase.


    Not that my doodles are wangs.

    Shut up.

  20. Irony died when a bunch of idiot nerdy kid decided to create a whole style out of it, so they could act snobby and reject everybody else, thus denaturing the complete idea. As Tommy P. points out, it’s also a question of the internets. You’ll get a lot of crap from basement dwellers who get reality and computers all confused. Don’t apologize man. Give them more shit. This way, maybe you’ll help breathe new life into irony.

  21. What? You were kidding?

    *Puts down can of gold spray paint (used to paint nekkid self to look like a female Oscar), sighs, and looks around ruined hotel room (Motel 6, chaos on a writer’s budget).*

    Well, crap.

  22. I think we can safely assume that people who take a post seriously that threatens to R. Kelly everyone if they don’t add their writer-as-rock-star ideas to the comments section are humorless fedora clad hobos comparing the merits of Neil Gaiman to the lesser known Christopher Wooding. Yeah, you’ve probably never heard of Christopher Wooding (because he’s so underground). ::Sips PBR::

    Screw them! BTFO!

  23. I’m sorry, this just makes me laugh! The mere fact that you have to explain yourself proves that somewhere out there, an assasin is systematically killing humor and satire. Oh, and that people need to lighten the hell up.

  24. A Joke. I scoff at your joke. I am not returning the Rat City Roller Girls. They are my Writing Rock-Star prisoners. And the whiskey, well it is almost gone. Time for a resupply.

    Those without humor — go lay a turd egg and eat it.

    (BTW, congrats on the Gaiman retweet. /swoon).


  25. Chuck,

    “One tweet said: ‘I find this notion that “literary rock stars” will save publishing completely misguided – celebritization not the answer.’”

    I’m sorry, but had that guy intended satire, it would have been funnier than the actual post.

    I’m still not canceling the Fuck Each Other Fuck Each Other Over Tour. I’ve already rented the bus. However, I won’t be inviting that guy. He seems unfun.

  26. I guess I knew you were joking. I thought there was a particle of truth to the blog. Writers don’t get parades. Without us stellar geniuses to write the… but I digress. But I still think you had a valid point.
    I included peeing, and not the good kind, in the story I had been writing, b/c of your blog. I had thought about it, dismissed it, then allowed it. I’m too modest to provide the link here. No I’m not. Well, yes I am. Does that mean I’ll never succeed as a published writer?
    The sum of your blogs has made me think that one of the messages you’re trying to get across is that we are sometimes too kind to our characters. You’re telling us to roll around in the dirt, get our hands dirty. And slimey.
    That’s what I see, anyway.
    Will try to remember you are usually joking. As I’ve found on twitter, it doesn’t always translate. I’d be more energetic in this comment, but my comp crashed last night and I’m still picking up the pieces.
    Keep doing what you’re doing. : )

  27. dude . . . i loved that blog so much i tweeted it DIRECTLY TO Neil & his lovely rockstar bride Amanda. i really hope that’s one of the many ways they caught on to your writing. you are one of the last true vulgarians, and i appreciate the new swear words—it’s the last frontier of compounds we can slam together to reach new heights of profanity. it’s actually a little game i play with my friends: one dirty, one clean, just to see what we get. “snatchbasket” “fuckpocket”, etc.

    but all filth aside, as this is not a stellar first impression, your writing has inspired more laughter and more desire to write than most of the supposedly well-written guides to on “the craft” as they are so often labeled. and sometimes, it IS like witchcraft, trying to conjure something good and spooky and heady and dangerous and blasphemous and wicked and beautiful from the void and the sparse tools of symbols, but you sir, do fine work.

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