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"Suffering is a key essential to great writing. But there’s probably enough suffering in your life already—or suffering will come on its own."
April 2, 2012 8:42 PM   Subscribe


 
Actually, one of the best reasons to write is because it WILL absolutely get you laid.
posted by unSane at 8:44 PM on April 2, 2012 [3 favorites]


After looking at all the multitude of reasons to write that never motivated me to write, I finally hit upon the one that worked: I need to write because I'm dying. And I need to hurry.
posted by shakespeherian at 8:46 PM on April 2, 2012 [19 favorites]


unSane is right. There are songs that have gotten me laid. Absolutely laid.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 8:47 PM on April 2, 2012


Best line: "Even the greatest writers died horrible deaths terribly alone. Try to enjoy it."
posted by Peach at 8:54 PM on April 2, 2012 [1 favorite]


Huh, who the hell is Jim Behrle?...
Those two whatstheirnames would be like, “Aw, Katniss, but I love you so much.” And she’d be like, “If you truly loved me you’d make out with each other.” And then they would and then everything would be awesome.
...and I'm sold! A genius grant for Jim Behrle, please.
posted by en forme de poire at 9:25 PM on April 2, 2012 [1 favorite]


I was prepared to hate is but honestly I can't disagree with a single one of this dude's points. All that bland stuff set in the real world about real world problems? Snoresville. Gimme collapsing realities. Gimme dragons, gimme monsters. If you must write about a serial murderer then make him have clawed his way back to the real world for vengeance after being sent to Hell or something. Gimme the heads falling off. Gimme vampires whose plague slides freely between the blood and the Internet.

Surprise me.
posted by egypturnash at 9:27 PM on April 2, 2012 [7 favorites]


I was prepared to hate is but honestly I can't disagree with a single one of this dude's points.

Yeah, especially;
5. STOP WRITING BOOKS TOLD FROM THE POINT OF VIEW OF CHILDREN
10. NO MORE ANTI-HEROES
posted by bongo_x at 9:30 PM on April 2, 2012


I think I might assign this as advance reading for every writers workshop I teach from now on.
posted by twsf at 9:31 PM on April 2, 2012


What happens at the end of your chapters? Someone doesn’t reply to your email or something. Or, like, 9/11 happens. I’m so fucking riveted.
Okay, I'm going to stop pasting things from this article in the thread now, but: amazing.
posted by en forme de poire at 9:31 PM on April 2, 2012


10. NO MORE ANTI-HEROES

I have this idea for a Showtime show. It is kind of like “Dexter” except the main character is a child molester. But wait, it’s OK because he only molests really bad kids who deserve it.
*spit take*
posted by sixswitch at 9:40 PM on April 2, 2012 [10 favorites]


7. WE NEED MORE NOVELS WRITTEN FROM THE POINT OF VIEW OF CATS

There was a bookstore in manhattan kansas, and in a pile of books I found a book written from the POV of a cat, where he went to cat-hell to fight cat-demons and get his cat-girlfreind back. The greatest tragedy of all is I never bought it, and I'll probably never find it again :<
posted by hellojed at 9:41 PM on April 2, 2012 [6 favorites]


unSane is right. There are songs that have gotten me laid. Absolutely laid.

man even my best songs have only ever gotten me relatively laid ixi
posted by en forme de poire at 9:50 PM on April 2, 2012 [2 favorites]


There was a bookstore in manhattan kansas, and in a pile of books I found a book written from the POV of a cat, where he went to cat-hell to fight cat-demons and get his cat-girlfreind back. The greatest tragedy of all is I never bought it, and I'll probably never find it again

Miaowara Tomokato, Samurai Cat?
posted by zippy at 9:51 PM on April 2, 2012 [1 favorite]


There was a bookstore in manhattan kansas, and in a pile of books I found a book written from the POV of a cat, where he went to cat-hell to fight cat-demons and get his cat-girlfreind back. The greatest tragedy of all is I never bought it, and I'll probably never find it again

It has been a very long time since I read it, but Tailchaser's Song?
posted by brennen at 9:59 PM on April 2, 2012 [5 favorites]


Also promising - How To Write A Love Poem:
Poetry occupies a cultural space in Contemporary American Society somewhere between Tap Dancing and Ventriloquism.
posted by brennen at 10:03 PM on April 2, 2012 [2 favorites]


Those that can write, write. Ultimately, I suspect, Mr. Behrle knows that we can't all be Suzanne Collins.
posted by noaccident at 10:05 PM on April 2, 2012 [1 favorite]


YES brennen! it's vaugly 70's and the plot summery seems to have the same vibe. Time to hunt down a copy.
posted by hellojed at 10:35 PM on April 2, 2012


I was also prepared to hate this - and perhaps I should - but this is hilarious even for someone who doesn't live in Brooklyn. It's guilty of everything it skewers and it doesn't care. Delightful.
posted by kavasa at 10:36 PM on April 2, 2012


Author is right on. This stuff is boring:

a) Stories about writers writing. Stephen King barely gets a pass here, just because he's a great storyteller. But no one else does.

b) Stories featuring booze or drugs as if its something magical. As the author of this piece points out, boring as hell to read.

c) Stories about the ennui of being a privileged white 20- or 30-something. Blergh.
posted by maxwelton at 10:39 PM on April 2, 2012


but what if the booze in your book is like, literally magical?

I'm asking for ...a friend.
posted by The Whelk at 11:06 PM on April 2, 2012 [1 favorite]


I think what someone needs to do is make a laptop that, no matter what you do, you can't connect it to the internet. The distraction free PC. Perfect for writing or creating stuff. With the cost of hardware getting cheaper and cheaper, I'm surprised no one has made this. If they can make computers designed to do nothing but read books (like the kindle) why not make one that's designed to do nothing but write books.
Now then, dudes. No one cares that you want to cheat on your boyfriends, girlfriends, wives or dogs. No one gives a crap. ... Even if you are not physically cheating on someone you are probably writing novels in which the character is you and they are cheating and so getting away with it and it’s just totally lazy writing. The best novel of the last few years is called "Mad Men” and it’s on AMC Sunday nights and he is handsomer than you and when he cheats I am somewhat interested but not much.
Heh.
I have this idea for a Showtime show. It is kind of like “Dexter” except the main character is a child molester. But wait, it’s OK because he only molests really bad kids who deserve it.
Hahah. I haven't seen the show, but the whole concept of "Dexter" annoys me.
The really great novelists don’t review books or even read anybody else’s stuff. They are too busy counting their money.
posted by delmoi at 11:21 PM on April 2, 2012 [3 favorites]


I think what someone needs to do is make a laptop that, no matter what you do, you can't connect it to the internet.

Oh, FUCK, I'm all over this. I have a brainiac compsci kid I know who I'm trying to persuade to write a singletasking OS for his dissertation. Can you even imagine? Like Mac before Multifinder? Can you even speculate about how fast that motherfucker would be? Riches await.
posted by unSane at 11:26 PM on April 2, 2012


Dexter's well written. But a one-trick pony. If you were going to be a serial killer, you'd want to be Dexter. But it's one of those procedurals where the procedural is much less interesting than the other stuff. You never actually give a shit about whether he's going to catch/kill the killer.
posted by unSane at 11:28 PM on April 2, 2012


Oh, FUCK, I'm all over this. I have a brainiac compsci kid I know who I'm trying to persuade to write a singletasking OS
Single-tasking isn't important, the problem is the internet Eventually you'd run out of interesting stuff to look at on that machine. You might want to use other tools along with your text editor, like a spreasheet or flowchart software or whatever.

Or you might want to use this system for something other then writing, like working on graphic design, putting together video games, whatever.

You might want to put something in that would allow the system to do wireless backups, but not a 'real' internet connection, it could be one way: just sending out diffs of your drive image.

And you'd want to make it as cheap as possible. Something like an Ubislate/Aakash tablet with a physical keyboard.
posted by delmoi at 11:42 PM on April 2, 2012


I think what someone needs to do is make a laptop that, no matter what you do, you can't connect it to the internet.

Didn't Jonathan Franzen do this with the computer he worked on? I'm sure I read an article where he explained he squirted glue into the ethernet socket.

Very funny piece, though.
posted by rhymer at 12:17 AM on April 3, 2012


yeah but he wrote Johnathan Franzen novels so it's a trade off.
posted by The Whelk at 12:30 AM on April 3, 2012 [5 favorites]


PowerBook 150 has no network ports and runs Word 5.1. Job done.
posted by fightorflight at 12:58 AM on April 3, 2012 [1 favorite]


Punchy prose. I like it.

Also: I have never gotten laid because of my writing. For my drunken off-the-cuff monologueing, hell yeah.

So what did I do? Moved to a place where nobody around me speaks my language well enough to care. Keeps me honest, I guess.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 1:53 AM on April 3, 2012 [1 favorite]


There are so many reasons not to write. But few are any better than because you are going to get laid. That is a good reason. Everything else, all these other distractions are meaningless.

I'm going to make this into a sign and stick it over my TV. (Because that's what my biggest distraction has been lately.)
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 4:15 AM on April 3, 2012


And yeah, I gotta say, sex > writing is about where my priorities are too...
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 4:16 AM on April 3, 2012


Single-tasking isn't important, the problem is the internet Eventually you'd run out of interesting stuff to look at on that machine. You might want to use other tools along with your text editor, like a spreasheet or flowchart software or whatever.

I actually learned to program because I ran out of other things to do on my first computer.
posted by sonic meat machine at 4:37 AM on April 3, 2012


man, now that i think back on it, i can't actually remember i time i didn't have awl fatigue
posted by This, of course, alludes to you at 5:46 AM on April 3, 2012


I think what someone needs to do is make a laptop that, no matter what you do, you can't connect it to the internet.

I have one of these. I call it a notebook. You can get one with all the peripherals for four or five bucks at the drug store. (Ten or twenty if you must have the fancy moleskine upgrade.)
posted by octobersurprise at 5:56 AM on April 3, 2012 [3 favorites]


I think what someone needs to do is make a laptop that, no matter what you do, you can't connect it to the internet.

They'd still have their cell phone.
posted by jscalzi at 6:07 AM on April 3, 2012


They don’t base movies on sonnets, otherwise Ted Berrigan would be the most famous writer of the last 50 years.

Not sonnets, but I'd pay to see a movie made of The Changing Light At Sandover.

So the drunkenness in your books or your real life really doesn’t amount to much. Except to slowly chip away at you until you cannot write anymore.

As William Faulkner once said, "Between scotch and nothing, I will take scotch."
posted by octobersurprise at 6:25 AM on April 3, 2012 [1 favorite]


Huh, who the hell is Jim Behrle?...

Has Jim Behrle not been FPPed yet? Weird. He's terrific, though it helps if you know the poetry world he's part of.
posted by Casuistry at 6:26 AM on April 3, 2012 [2 favorites]


My writing shack was an old camper trailer parked under a tree in the back yard; a combination of distance and a metal exterior meant no wi-fi. I arranged with my boss to work four 10 hour days - Friday I stayed home and wrote.
posted by 445supermag at 6:28 AM on April 3, 2012 [1 favorite]


7. WE NEED MORE NOVELS WRITTEN FROM THE POINT OF VIEW OF CATS

I read a mystery novel told from the POV of sheep a couple of months ago. I thought, hey, this cannot fail to be interesting! Which... it almost did, actually. The novelty of sheep narrator was enough for me to finish it, but it was a near thing.

Come to think of it, I'm pretty sure I picked it up because it was recced here on Mefi somewhere.
posted by marginaliana at 6:30 AM on April 3, 2012


Sheep, hell. We need more novels written from the point of view of inanimate objects.
posted by octobersurprise at 6:34 AM on April 3, 2012


PowerBook 150 has no network ports and runs Word 5.1. Job done.

Hope you like floppy disks.

Honestly, an iPad with the wifi & 3G turned off, with a decent bluetooth keyboard is pretty decent for capturing text. 10-hour battery life and a much nicer screen, too.
posted by Wild_Eep at 6:47 AM on April 3, 2012


Turn off the wifi on ANY computer. You're done.

(He said, on the Internet, while on deadline for a column.)
posted by jscalzi at 6:51 AM on April 3, 2012 [2 favorites]


How to Write the Great American Novel

1. Invent a time machine.
2. Go back in time at least 30-50 years to when the American novel was still a broadly relevant category of literature.
3. Be American; write novel.
4. Also, be male.
posted by overeducated_alligator at 6:58 AM on April 3, 2012 [2 favorites]


That article was awesome, though.
posted by overeducated_alligator at 6:59 AM on April 3, 2012


Sheep, hell. We need more novels written from the point of view of inanimate objects.

To start: The Collector Collector by Tibor Fischer, a novel told from the perspective of a bowl. Fischer is hilarious, and somehow it works. (Though I lean more towards his earlier novel about philosophical bank robbers, The Thought Gang. The "neoplatonic bank robbery" gag is still a favorite, as was the narrator's discovery that having a handgun pointed at someone is like being on the right side of a Socratic dialogue. It's erudite, foulmouthed, and a hoot.)
posted by Harvey Jerkwater at 7:52 AM on April 3, 2012 [2 favorites]


Huh, who the hell is Jim Behrle?...

Believe it or not, a friend and former coworker of mine. He's a good writer. He's also a huge fan of Boston sports franchises, but I forgive him for that.
posted by jonmc at 8:24 AM on April 3, 2012 [1 favorite]


Dexter is one of those shows I can't stand. And I like anti-heroes. Man Bites Dog is one of my favorite movies.

No one has any idea what they’re doing.

I don't totally agree, but my corollary would be that "no one method is right for everyone" - even among your favorite pros, you'll find the workmanlike sorts and the inspirational sorts.

There is LOTS of advice out there and lots of people willing to give (or sell) you advice. The best I could give is that there are no rules and you can do whatever you want, however you want. Write your novel in 140-character bursts on Twitter; write it in long-hand on a steno notebook (I do actually have to recommend writing in long-hand); plot your outline with detailed notes or just dive in; who cares? Try as many approaches as possible to see what works for you.

I only agree with like 1-2 of these. Comme ci, comme ca.

I need to write because I'm dying. And I need to hurry.

Yep, that's always my m.o. as well. It works. I just re-wrote Chapter 1.

And yeah, I gotta say, sex > writing is about where my priorities are too...

I had a theory (possibly a highidea) that the most successful people through history had low sex drives, so they were less distracted when doing what they need to do over and over 10,000 times. But then [pick any pro athlete] sorta blows that theory away, and I realized my theory was mostly a justification for my sex addiction and lack of success. :S
posted by mrgrimm at 9:23 AM on April 3, 2012


Sex is the only authentic reason for doing anything.
posted by deathpanels at 9:26 AM on April 3, 2012 [2 favorites]


I had a theory (possibly a highidea) that the most successful people through history had low sex drives, so they were less distracted when doing what they need to do over and over 10,000 times.

I have this theory too. Kant is always my go to example. Don't leave your hometown or even masturbate and you can churn out the Critique of Pure Reason.
posted by Lutoslawski at 11:58 AM on April 3, 2012


Don't leave your hometown or even masturbate and you can churn out the Critique of Pure Reason.

Or Tome of Pure Hate and Total Destruction.
posted by bongo_x at 2:19 PM on April 3, 2012 [1 favorite]


I have this theory too. Kant is always my go to example. Don't leave your hometown or even masturbate and you can churn out the Critique of Pure Reason.

For all the not-getting-laid I've been doing the last few years, I ought to at least have a couple of fat genre manuscripts in a drawer somewhere.
posted by brennen at 3:52 PM on April 3, 2012


but what if the booze in your book is like, literally magical?

I'm asking for ...a friend.


Tim Powers says "It's cool."
posted by Amanojaku at 5:37 PM on April 3, 2012


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