Dangerous. Extreme. Call it what you will. Just watch out.
[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Of2HU3LGdbo&w=700] Cat, dressed as a shark, chases a duckling while riding a Roomba vacuum cleaner.
Colin Nissan wrote this for McSweeney's. It's bang on. He also wrote an excellent "Step-by-Step Guide to Building a Tiny Fucking Ship Inside a Tiny Fucking Bottle", which I haven't read, but really enjoy its title. You can read it here.
THE ULTIMATE GUIDE TO WRITING BETTER THAN YOU NORMALLY DO. - - - - WRITE EVERY DAY
Writing is a muscle. Smaller than a hamstring and slightly bigger than a bicep, and it needs to be exercised to get stronger. Think of your words as reps, your paragraphs as sets, your pages as daily workouts. Think of your laptop as a machine like the one at the gym where you open and close your inner thighs in front of everyone, exposing both your insecurities and your genitals. Because that is what writing is all about.
Procrastination is an alluring siren taunting you to Google the country where Balki from Perfect Strangers was from, and to arrange sticky notes on your dog in the shape of hilarious dog shorts. A wicked temptress beckoning you to watch your children, and take showers. Well, it’s time to look procrastination in the eye and tell that seafaring wench, “Sorry not today, today I write.”
FIGHT THROUGH WRITER’S BLOCK
The blank white page. El Diablo Blanco. El Pollo Loco. Whatever you choose to call it, staring into the abyss in search of an idea can be terrifying. But ask yourself this; was Picasso intimidated by the blank canvas? Was Mozart intimidated by the blank sheet music? Was Edison intimidated by the blank lightbulb? If you’re still blocked up, ask yourself more questions, like; Why did I quit my job at TJ Maxx to write full-time? Can/should I eat this entire box of Apple Jacks? Is The Price is Right on at 10 or 11?
LEARN FROM THE MASTERS
Mark Twain once said, “Show, don’t tell.” This is an incredibly important lesson for writers to remember; never get such a giant head that you feel entitled to throw around obscure phrases like “Show, don’t tell.” Thanks for nothing, Mr. Cryptic.
FIND YOUR MUSE
Finding a really good muse these days isn’t easy, so plan on going through quite a few before landing on a winner. Beware of muses who promise unrealistic timelines for your projects or who wear wizard clothes. When honing in on a promising new muse, also be on the lookout for other writers attempting to swoop in and muse-block you. Just be patient in your search, because the right muse/human relationship can last a lifetime.
HONE YOUR CRAFT
There are two things more difficult than writing. The first is editing, the second is expert level Sudoku where there’s literally two goddamned squares filled in. While editing is a grueling process, if you really work hard at it, in the end you may find that your piece has fewer words than it did before. Which, is great. Perhaps George Bernard Shaw said it best when upon sending a letter to a close friend, he wrote, “I’m sorry this letter is so long, I didn’t have time to make it shorter.” No quote better illustrates the point that writers are very busy.
ASK FOR FEEDBACK
It’s so easy to hide in your little bubble, typing your little words with your little fingers on your little laptop from the comfort of your tiny chair in your miniature little house. I’m taking this tone to illustrate the importance of developing a thick skin. Remember, the only kind of criticism that doesn’t make you a better writer is dishonest criticism. That, and someone telling you that you have weird shoulders.
READ, READ, READ
It’s no secret that great writers are great readers, and that if you can’t read, your writing will often suffer. Similarly, if you can read but have to move your lips to get through the longer words, you’ll still be a pretty bad writer. Also, if you pronounce “espresso” like “expresso.”
STUDY THE RULES, THEN BREAK THEM
Part of finding your own voice as a writer is finding your own grammar. Don’t spend your career lost in a sea of copycats when you can establish your own set of rules. If everyone’s putting periods at the end of their sentences, put yours in the middle of words. Will it be incredibly difficult to read? Yes it will. Will it set you on the path to becoming a literary pioneer? Tough to say, but you’re kind of out of options at this point.
KEEP IT TOGETHER
A writer’s brain is full of little gifts, like a piñata at a birthday party. It’s also full of demons, like a piñata at a birthday party in a mental hospital. The truth is, it’s demons that keep a tortured writer’s spirit alive, not Tootsie Rolls. Sure they’ll give you a tiny burst of energy, but they won’t do squat for your writing. So treat your demons with the respect they deserve, and with enough prescriptions to keep you wearing pants.
[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_O1hM-k3aUY&w=700] Hercules reads his scipt entirely wrong (reads the word disappointed, when he was supposed to sound disappointed).
[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dYhf3_9BgDE&w=700] From the collected speeches...
By Dan Kennedy in the unparalleled McSweeny's. I enjoy reading, travel, and the outdoors. Let’s see, I do vision boarding, I like housesitting for people more successful than me, I’m an avid fan of winter sports (snow wandering, sad phone calls). I search eBay for cut-rate mascot costumes, and I laugh at them then get sad. Rattlesnake videos on YouTube, I enjoy magazines and cigarettes, watching television is still a big thing with me. I also do a hobby sometimes where I can see the truth about everything, it’s hard to explain, but I picture a situation, like the movie business, and I can see the truth of the whole thing; I just stand and stare and think about something until I can see the whole truth of it. This started after I did something like three grams of mushrooms in one night in the late ’90s; I’m probably literally retarded from that night. I’ve never sailed, but I feel like maybe I would like that. I like photography; I tried to take a picture of this pimp on 10th Avenue who has a tarantula that he’s always got walking around on his arm, but he physically threatened me so I just turned a little bit and acted like I was trying to take a picture of something to the left of him, and then he called me a quiet little bitch, whatever that was supposed to mean. Softball, camping. I know a guy named Tic Tac who was a martial arts assassin for the Marines, like a freelance killer basically. My main hobbies involve high stakes situations, motherfucker. LOL!—just kidding around, a little. Let’s see, I don’t know, how long is this section supposed to be? I guess I have the same hobbies everyone else has; fishing, jogging, whatever, you name it, I’ll do it. I’ve been pretty lonely, so lately I’ll try just about anything—if someone says they love to go antiquing, I’m like, “Not so fast, when are you going next, because I’m coming with you so I stop climbing the fucking walls over here.” Anyway, I have tons of hobbies. I’ll put eating candy on here, just because, you know what, why not? You’ve probably seen weaker shit than eating candy in the hobbies section of someone’s résumé. Certainly someone has put something like “Spending time with my kids” or something like that, so I’m playing the candy card, chief. You know what, I’ll tell you what my biggest hobby is, my biggest hobby right now is getting my shit back on track. So, let’s get real about how we’re going to make that happen, because I’ve been on a lonely stretch of medium luck for about six months. Also, I am bankrupt and not allowed to trade stocks, securities, futures, or annuities for twenty-five years in North America and its territories, including Guam. I can make sleeping pills and bottle rockets. Those last two aren’t really hobbies, I guess, more like special skills.
I would win this race. [vimeo http://vimeo.com/42827276 w=700&h=390]
A competition by Esteban+Vinciguerra & Remy Cayuela Director: Remy Cayuela Writters: Esteban+Vinciguerra & Remy Cayuela Dop: Martial Schmeltz Editor: Edouard Mailaender Label: Cinq7 Production company: Frenzy paris Post-production: Circus SFX: Jean Miel Stylist: Bylitis Nicod
[vimeo http://vimeo.com/40999482 w=700&h=400] Oh that's very clever. Am suffused with a sort of warm envy and admiration. Wish I could say that I'd thought of this, but it's actually the work of Lernert & Sander. Wonderfully done.
2035 hours: Engine of Zodiac is cut as Navy SEAL unit arrives at rendezvous point, 16.2 miles off coast of Somalia where pirates have commandeered private American yacht. In abrupt silence, suddenly feel self-conscious and stop singing 20-minute rendition of “Wavy Wave Wave” song.
2038 hours: Commander recaps rescue plan for unit: don swim gear, approach captured American yacht by stern, board vessel, discharge small explosives, disable Somali pirates by lethal force, rescue two hostages below deck, rendezvous with helicopter support. Commander calls for questions. Complain that no dolphins have yet been sighted, as promised.
2042 hours: Put on flippers but refuse to insert snorkel. “It’s spitty.” Commander repeats order. “No, it’s yucky. I’ll puke.” Commander issues menacing threat. Insert snorkel while making exaggerated gagging sounds.
2043 hours: Sulk in corner of Zodiac.
2047 hours: Waiting for deployment, Ens. Klemphorn talks quietly and nervously about mission, how he’s prepared for death but is more worried about disappointing comrades and never being able to tell his family that he tried his best; wonders if it was all a mistake. Reply, “I’m going to kill smelly pirates! Look: duck feet!”
2050 hours: Commander gives “go” signal for unit to begin dive. Slowly descend feet-first into water because getting bellybutton wet is the worst.
2051 hours: Begin surface swim towards stranded yacht. Quickly suffer fatigue. Remove icky snorkel and ask Klemphorn if he’ll piggyback swim. Climb on teammate’s back. Ask Klemphorn to dive to bottom like a whale.
2103 hours: Unit glides silently to stern of yacht. Night is still, save for lapping of waves against hull and muffled sound of music from radio on board. Make bum bubbles in water. Try to suppress giggle. Fail.
2104 hours: Commander looks over, makes circular motion around eyes, points forward. Wave back.
2106 hours: Controlled military assault begins on captured yacht. SEALs scale side of boat. Ask for boost.
2108 hours: Manage to get on board. Flashes, screams and explosions punctuate the darkness. Feel all drippy. Yell “I’m wet!” to no one in particular. Conveniently find towel lying on deck. Sound of running and gunfire. Tie corner of towel around neck. Announce, “I’m Batman!”
2115 hours: Commander rushes over with sidearm drawn. Screams in face about focusing on mission and retrieving hostages below deck. Notice commander has boogers. Reply, “You’re a grumpypants.”
2118 hours: Descend cabin stairs on bum. Open door to find hostages cowering in corner. Hostages ask, “What’s happening? Who are you?” Reply, “I’m a SEAL. But not like a seal at the zoo. I went to the zoo once and there were this many seals.” Hold up both hands. “They swimmed fast. I can swim fast but I get tired. I know what ‘seal’ is in French. It’s ‘phoque.’ Phoque, phoque, phoque, phoque, phoque, phoque. We’re killing the smelly pirates. Is this where there’s treasure?”
2121 hours: With captors eliminated, hostages scramble above deck as helicopter support arrives. SEAL team straps hostages into rescue harness. Tug on commander’s jacket. Ask where the treasure is.
2133 hours: Return to base in helicopter. Tell Klemphorn, “This is two times I’m in a helicopter!” Assuage disappointment over lack of pirate treasure with well-chilled juice box. Stare out window, scanning ocean for dolphins. Mermaids will also do. Feel excited because commander has mentioned something about a courtmarshmallow.
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Read more of these here.
[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DvHOXiP9O_Y&w=700] Clement Freud has perfect timing.