I received a helpful — sorry, “helpful” — email that asked me to, and I quote, “get back to the writing advice, please.” The core idea of the email being that I’m spending too much time on the blog talking about other things (cough cough the bread and circuses of politics) and not enough time on talking to you about characters and commas and how to defeat the bleak unrelenting despair of being a creative human being.
Or, put differently, I am a monkey doing the wrong monkey dance.
So, though I’ve responded to this sort of thing before, I thought I’d take another moment to discuss this request and provide my response to it.
First, this blog is not a writing blog. It’s not any kind of a blog. It’s just a blog, which is to say, it’s a platform for me to squawk and gibber into the void. Further, like with most blogs, it’s free to you — though, be advised, it costs me a pretty penny to run. Free to you, not to me. Now, my books? They’re the opposite. Those are free for me to write, relatively, and cost you. Which is why my books are for you, and my blog is for me.
Second, I am presently wrapping up the writing of a new book (current title which is likely to change: DAMN GOOD STORY). It’s a crunchier, meatier book on storytelling than what you’d normally find here — it’s still silly, occasionally, but it’s a book that tries very hard to make sense of the art of storytelling. And that means I’m expending a lot of my writing/storytelling advice on that book — so, harder to muster it here, because it needs to go there.
Third, and I dunno if you’ve noticed this, but things are really going slippery in this country. We’re all in a tractor-trailer driving across a frozen lake, man. The back end has gone wobbly. We’re fishtailing here and the ice is fracturing underneath us as we rip forward. I don’t open the news and find much good there — it’s hard to say, OH, THANK GOD THEY’RE PUTTING GAG ORDERS ON VITAL GOVERNMENT DEPARTMENTS TO MAKE SURE THEY DON’T TALK TO THE PUBLIC, YOU KNOW, THE DEPARTMENTS THAT THE PUBLIC FUCKING FUNDS WITH OUR PUBLIC FUCKING MONEY. Our president and his press secretary get up there and spout easily disprovable lies (remember: the duck is a dog, you traitor).
I respect you not wanting me to talk about this.
Honestly, I don’t wanna talk about this shit either.
I’d rather talk about literally anything else. Otters! Bees! Cool new sex moves! Books I’ve read, movies I’ve watched, ancient beasts that I have hunted through eldritch wood! I would much rather talk about writing, or cursing, or arting harder, or poop jokes, or pee jokes (though at least there, our current president allows me to pull double-duty). But I wake up every day and I just peek at the news with one half-lidded eye through gently lifted Internet blinds and boom, it’s like that scene in Terminator 2 where the nuclear blast annihilates everything. OH GOD CHRIST IN SOCKS IT BURNS, IT BURNS. The news isn’t good. It’s not, “Hey, Congress did something nice today.” Or, “Wow, Trump gave a kitten some milk.” Instead you get WALLS FRAUD LIES MUSLIMS ILLEGALS TOMBSTONES OBAMACARE CARNAGE SEND IN THE FEDS.
I don’t want to talk about any of this.
I don’t want any of this.
Some of this is normal run-of-the-mill bad. Some of it is a guttering transmission bad.
Some of it is existentially bad.
So, on the one hand, I get what you’re saying. You want to come here, and maybe you want a vacation from the horror show. I grok that. I do. I want to be that port in your storm (wait that sounds sexier than I intend it). I want to be safe harbor from Satan’s Orgy. (Actually, let’s not diss Satan like that. This is much worse, and Satan’s probably pretty cool — after all, he hosts orgies.)
On the other hand, sometimes it feels like when I get these messages, what you’re saying isn’t that you want an oasis in the shit-show, but rather, you want me to shut up about stuff. Because sometimes your emails have that vibe of disagreeability, as if it’s less that you don’t want to hear about politics and more you don’t want to hear my politics. You want me to do the monkey dance you like, not the monkey dance you don’t.
And while I respect that, I gotta do my monkey dance. Not yours.
I’ll make a deal with you.
I’m going to keep talking about this stuff because, c’mon. This affects me and it affects people who are far more vulnerable than me, and it feels right to talk about. We have a Russian puppet Tyrannosaurus Rex barreling down on us — flanked by a Congress of eager velociraptors — and you want me to talk about something else? You’re telling me to shut up about the T-Rex, and I’m trying to warn you about the T-Rex. So, I’m going to keep talking about it — and if that bothers you that much, you are welcome to leap into the maw of the beast and end up as dinosaur shit.
The offer I’ll make is:
Yes, I’ll keep talking about other things, when I have them to talk about. And even when I’m shrieking and freaking out and loading the DINOSAUR TREBUCHET, I’ll still try to be funny or weird or otherwise “me” about the whole thing. I mean, hell, even this post has all the hallmarks of a good Wendig post, doesn’t it? Poop. Satan. Orgies. Dinosaur trebuchets. I’ll try to keep it all at least a little bit funny, because if the laughter dies, our souls die with it.
I’ll get back to the writing advice, relax. The monkey dance will evolve.
But I’m also gonna keep doing what I’m doing, and if you don’t like that, here’s your money back.
*opens pouch, upends invisible and non-existent coins into your open hands*
*last thing out of the pouch is a middle finger*
*so many bees*