It’s Half-Past “You Should Quit Writing” O’Clock
*wakes up in puddle of spit and vodka*
*glances up at calendar*
It’s that time of the year again, isn’t it?
Whoo. Okay. Deep breath. Deep breath. Do some calisthenics — is that how you spell that? “Calisthenics?” Do people even say that word anymore? Whatever. Focus. Focus.
I’ll power-chug a kale smoothie. Do I want it as an enema? *whistles* Okay, we don’t have time for that. Enemas need a lot of tubing, bagging, all that clean-up. And the registered nurse I keep on my Authorial Payroll has gone and fucked off again to Puerto Vallarta, so.
I’m just going to have to do this blind.
Here we go.
Are you sitting down?
YOU SHOULD QUIT WRITING NOW.
*pant pant pant*
Okay. Okay! There. We’re over the hump. We’re past that part. Like swallowing a horse pill!
Let’s see. I think now it’s time to go through all the reasons you should quit, right? I know I have a list around here somewhere. AH YES, it’s tattooed to this hobo’s back. Hold on, let me flip him over (he’s sleeping, the dear). Ah! Ah. Here it is. WHY YOU SHOULD QUIT WRITING.
It’s not 25 reasons, but fuck it, it’ll do.
Hm, okay –
You’re probably not that good.
Sure, sure, that tracks. I mean, who is? So many great writers out there. What are the chances that you’re among them? Eh. Slim. Are you even fit to lick boots? Mmmm. NO.
The publishing industry is a parade of cannibals eating one another.
Truth. It’s just a circle jerk of zombies — the dead who don’t realize they’re dead yet! Stumbling about, eating each other. Soon there won’t be anything left but a foamy blood smear on the sidewalk. Publishers are basically doomed. We’ve smelled the char on the wind for a long time now, haven’t we? I mean, shit, are books even published anymore? I haven’t seen a book since Clinton was president. Hell, there’s only one Barnes & Noble left. It’s way out on old Route 66 — it’s just a ghost, shimmering in the heat haze. You go in, you never come out again. And if you do, you only come out with — *crash of thunder* — BOARD GAMES AND COFFEE DRINKS.
Your chances are next to nothing.
Might as well be zero. Nobody gets published anymore. I’m not even published. Oh, I know, I know, you think you’ve read my books, but HA HA HA it’s all an elaborate ruse. I just sell bundles of index cards laced with high-test hallucinogens. DMT, ayahuasca, some kind of LSD you have to cook in an E-Z-Bake oven with that little fucking lightbulb. You get this shit on your hands, you’ll believe any of the lies that come tumbling out of my mouth like horse apples.
*goes down the list*
There’s no money in it.
Virtually none. I mean, this guy made it to the Amazon bestseller list and he made nothing. Nothing at all! And by “nothing,” he of course means $12,000 dollars, but that kind of money won’t buy you a sweet-ass hovercraft or a diamond-encrusted poodle, so what the shit is the point? ALL WRITERS USED TO BE RICH and now it’s just, you know, the rain of caviar and supermodels has dried up. The gravy train has turned to a curdled milk wagon. Sure, you might think that $12k on a book put out by a small publisher across a single distribution medium that made the bestseller list for a short week based on some dubious media attention is a good number. NOPE. Dude should be raking in fat cash. What happened to the world?
See? So far, SO QUIT.
*keeps poking the list*
Takes too much time.
Takes like, 10,000 hours to get good, then ten years to write a book, another ten to get published, then another ten to start collecting royalties. Who the hell am I, Yoda? Fuck that.
Super-tough. It’s like, putting one word after the other — ? And then making them make sense? And then using those words and that sense to invent some story about some blah blah blah fake people who blah blah blah get into some imaginary predicament — oof. I’d rather be shoveling animal feces. Or taking fire in a hot zone. Is that what they call it? A “hot zone?” Whatever. I’m just saying, tangoing with terrorists would be HELLA EASIER.
Yep, you’ll be rejected. IN THE FACE AND GENITALS AND SOUL.
Your heart won’t just be broken, it’ll be run through the irritable bowels of a literary agent.
*flips through the rest of the list*
I mean, you know all this, right? It sucks. It’s hard. It takes fucking forever. Low advances. Zero respect. Self-publishing is for shlubs. Traditional publishing is for slaves. Amazon is eating everybody and everything. You’re probably getting worse, not better. You’re sad. You’re old. Best days are behind you. Or you’re young and you’ve got no shot. You’ve got nothing to say and no one to say it to. It’s hopeless. Who cares? *poop noise*
This is where I sum up, right? I tie it all together? Say something pithy? Offer you some kind of choice as if that’s meaningful? That sounds right. It’s been a while and I’ve been drinking.
Like I said, you should probably just quit.
If you read that and there’s some part of you that’s nodding along, great. Hey, listen, go be happy doing something else. Writing isn’t here to make you miserable. Why do that to yourself? Why do that to the rest of the world? Not everybody gets to be everything they want to be. I once thought I could be a radio DJ, a rock drummer, a cartoonist, a sex god, whatever. But as it turns out, my general sluggishness combined with an overly active imagination and paired with a propensity to a) drink and b) avoid pants seemed to add up on the Aptitude Test that is my life to one thing: writer. It may not add up like that for you. Maybe you’ll be a sex god. Or a monkey wrangler. Or the owner of the world’s only cat rodeo. Hell, maybe you just want to stay home and sit on your couch-imprinted ass and play video games all goddamn day.
Find your fucking bliss, dudes and dudettes.
If, on the other hand, this post fills you with a magma spout of rage that sears the back of your throat, good. Maybe you really are a writer. If your response to this is to shut down the browser, punch social media right between the 1s and 0s and open up your word processor and write the best fucking thing you’ve ever committed to paper, awesome. Hell, even if you open it up and write a relatively mediocre piece of crap that can be improved with effort, that too earns you a freeze-frame high-five because that proves that this is a thing worth doing. It’s not about talent. It’s about possessing the desire to do it and then the discipline and diligence to back it all up. You’re not born a penmonkey. You choose to be one.
So, make your choice.
Whatever happens, stop blaming other people for your failures. Stop complaining. Stop dicking around. Start doing that thing you want to do and do it with all the love you can fling into it.
If you’re a writer, you’ll write.
If you’re a quitter, you’ll quit.
And if you’re some other thing, find that other thing and be that.
Follow your path. Know your truth. Ride your spirit animal into the supernova or some shit.
*checks the hobo’s back*
I think that about covers it.
*looks back at the hobo list*
Oh, wait, goddamnit, I did do 25 reasons on why you should quit writing!
Never mind. Go read that instead.