Writing is a mysterious thing that doesn’t happen all at once, and it seldom happen in the right order. Writing is a process of digging through your knowledge and life experience in an attempt to discover what it is you actually believe. In fact, writers often don’t even know how they think about their subject until they have finished writing about it. And most writing happens when you are rushing out the door in the morning, driving home from class at the end of a long day, or washing your hair in the shower. So always keep a notebook nearby to jot down your genius ideas before they evaporate back into dust they came from.
It takes a special kind of person to write the blues.
They can feel it when they wake up in the morning.
The bunions they will have from walking in their shoes.
They couldn’t sleep the night with their wife up snoring.
They are often times more than half hung over, too.
It takes a special kind of person to sing the blues.
Their job is on the line, and it has taken their health.
Their dog was killed last night like an old country song.
Their wife is on their mind, and she has taken their wealth.
Their sorrow’s burning bright, and you all sing along.
It takes a special kind of person to play the blues.
Their fingers are curled from long days and guitar strings.
Their backs are broken from toting their own stage gear.
Their voices are gnarled from the wailing notes they sing.
They only earn a token playing their pain for beer.
It takes a special kind of person to write the blues.
I’m always bright and bushy tailed in the morning.
I typically don’t need to walk a hole in my shoes.
My words almost always leave the people snoring.
And I seldom ever drink more than one or two.
If you’re still reading this, that’s why I can’t write the blues.
And if you’re still reading this, you can’t write the blues, too.
Have you ever had
One of those days when every word
You write is wrong?
Christmas trees and
Jingling bells a writer’s
Shorthand for everything.
Don’t expect your family and friends to care about your writing. They are the wrong people to ask. They love you, and they know you. They won’t read your writing because they can talk to you in person if they want to hear what you think. And reading is hard work. Now, you can force your husband or wife to sit down and read your writing, and possibly a good friend who you don’t mind alienating. They will only do this begrudgingly.
And if you are looking for feedback, don’t expect any of that. Think about how much effort you put into your writing. They have been there to see that even when you think they haven’t noticed. Good, bad, or in between, they will say, “It’s good. I liked it.” This will sound like they are only being polite because they are. Could you even imagine the depths of despair you would be in if your valued loved one said, “This is shit! You should burn it before anyone else sees it.”
Of course, they never would say that even if they felt it. They might say, “It’s good, but you need a comma here, and this sentence is unclear.” And you will hear them say, “This is shit! You should burn it before anyone else sees it.” You will think this because you are a writer and overthinking things is the price you pay for doing a good job.
When they tell you, “It’s good. I liked it.”
You will say, “Yeah, you say that, but it’s not my best work. I need a comma here, and this sentence is unclear.”
And they will say, “Why are you always so hard on yourself?” And this will slowly drive them away from your writings. They will assume wrongly writing it is having a negative impact on your life. Secretly, they will no longer want to read your writings. Secretly, you will no longer want them to read your writings. This will be a secret you even keep from yourself. You will think, why doesn’t anybody want to read my writing? Don’t they love my writings? Don’t they love me?
They do love you. You Goddamned idiot. But they will not love your writings. And not because your writings are not good. They will not love your writing because your writings are not you, and they love you. And your writing is your sidepiece. Your writing is taking you away from them and driving a wedge between you and them.
Your writings want you to themselves. Your writings think they are you. And you think you are your writings. But you are both wrong. You are a writer, and the paper is your toilet. You crap these things out and flush them down. Your writings were in you, but they were not you. You should hold onto and love and share with your loved ones your writings like you should hold onto and love and share with your loved ones the crap you just took. Flush your writings out onto the internet where all the other crap is kept and see what floats to the top.
When people notice it and tell you it is beautiful say ‘thank you’ and nothing else. You will know that you ate peanuts and a bowlful of corn that day. But for some reason these other people didn’t notice. It could be that your digestion was rather good that particular day or anything else. Don’t let that distract you. Just keep writing.
If you want to hone your skills, you can join a writer’s group if there is one near you. But they will not give real feedback because they know that all writings are crap. They will not want to tell you that your writings are crap because they are afraid that you will tell them that their writings are crap. Feelings could get hurt.
Your best bet to get real feedback and to get people to read your writing is to pay out the nose and go to a university fiction or poetry writing class. Here they are not afraid to get crap all over their hands and they will break your writings apart and tell you exactly what you had for dinner and what you should have eaten instead. This is brutal and you will hate it. But it will teach you valuable skills to evaluate your writings on your own.
And while you are around the university, after you finish crying about how they desecrated your writings, find out when and where the local poetry and fiction readings are and sign up. These are places where they will let you throw your crap at the walls. You might even get a smattering of polite applause. Now, none of this will get people to sit down and read your work. I am still trying to figure out how to do that myself.
The best advice I can give for getting your writings read is not mine. (Forgive me. I am about quote a particularly controversial comedian and cage fighting commentator, but Joe Rogan said it. And I believe he is right) “Be undeniable.”
I don’t think there are any tricks. Just grind. Going viral is a lottery ticket. Somebody wins, but it is never you. And when you do win it’s thirty thousand views from Germany in 2016, and all they wanted was to see the picture of Macaulay Culkin that you put up on your page without permission. And they left your page the second they realized their mistake. No new readers. No new views. And no idea how to make it happen again.
Just stick with what you already do and write. Write until you go blind. And if you know how to touch type, continue writing until your fingers fall off. Then, get a loved one to take dictation. This doesn’t count as making them read your writings because they are now part of the process whether they like it or not.
You better get them practicing now. You want them to be able to type as fast as you can think.
Dark room, recliner
By the fireplace, the laptop screen
And just my thoughts.
Toss a hand full of feed corn
From the red coffee bucket.
Watch the chickens rush in.
The goats will come, too.
Chickens flap a little and cluck,
But they get along fine.
Toss them your leftover vegetables.
They like that, too.
Let them at it
Pecking away at your keyboard
Writing your next favorite poem.
Give me a length
And a word and I will give you
A line you don’t like.
Burning books of one’s free words.
A big bunch of these bad boys swept in their own ink.
Oozing ink like sap from a green log ablaze.
They smoke like weeds of bad taste.
Like nicotine teeth from green wood flame.
Burned on wet clay hills suspended as fat forest fires.
Violent mineralized meaning burning bright
The dirty dotted chunks of information.
Is the wrong way to elicit
Boredom through writing.