Some years ago, I decided that for my birthday all I wanted was for each blessed person in my life to sit down and write a five sentence paragraph of where they were and what they were doing on August 2nd, 1979, the day I was born.
I got a few responses. One of them was practically a ream of paper, written by my Grandma Lazenberry. One was a terse 3 sentence response written by a distant aunt, which oozed of “are you happy now?” I compiled all of these responses in a book I’ve titled “My hope Chestburster”. I treasure them. I go to that book on nights when the Tequila Rose calls to me, saying “Tequila mockingbird is te-kill-a friend, fatty. End yourself.”
I learned something interesting. Most of the people, including my mom, have yet to write a response. Oh they hem and haw at the weight of it, as if I asked them to donate the next fifty Saturday mornings weaving a tapestry illustrating their final exit. I get it. Writing is hard. You don’t want to fuck it up. But, bitch please, it’s just five sentences.
And that’s what I learned. That “bitch please!” of a thought is what separates a writer from a Real Estate novelist, (consult Billy Joel’s “Piano Man” for the definition). If you’ve ever sat down at a desk and written something, just for the shiz and gigz, then congratulations, you’re a writer. Even if you never get published. And even if you get published up the ass, you’re body will never tire of stories, because everyday we fight to stay alive and in that day there are a thousand adventures to be mined. Stephen King has a cubby hole under his stairs stuffed to the gills with unfinished manuscripts. Gary Larson, who stopped publishing “The Far Side” decades ago, still takes to his “cartoon journal” daily, when he’s not playing Jazz Guitar with Herb Ellis.
Writing. If you can’t shake it, then fake it till you make it. It’s a long con, babey, and in the end, no matter how hard you try, it’s a grift from which you can’t walk away. Why? Because you’ll leave a paper trail that will one day be found. If you win the lottery and get published, your book may end up in the public library where I work. And there are three types of people who frequent public libraries:
1. Students/teachers. 2. Old people. 3. Whack-a-doodle Nutjobs.
Why just yesterday, a lovely Latino lady was trying to acquire her boyfriend’s attention. He was scanning the want ads of one of our newspapers. She screamed at him, grabbed the paper and crumpled it up in a massive ball, throwing it at his face.
“Bitch you need therapy!” he said, getting up to leave.
“You ain’t gettin’ no job now, dummy, ain’t getting’ shit, cuz you AIN’T shit, papi, fuck you, what? What? What? What?”
She followed him out of the library proper and they were never seen again. A few minutes later a grizzled black homeless man walked over to where they had sat. He picked up the ball of newspaper and spent the next ten minutes smoothing out each individual page with his hand. He read the want ads quietly then folded the paper to its original form, pushing it to the edge of the table where it could be easily found. He then got up and went in search of a quiet corner where he could take a nap.
In the end we die and someone has to deal with us and our stuff. Our matter gets re-shelved in the recesses of the planet and our energy will spill out and go wherever the fireflies go when dawn arrives. So why not leave as much crap behind as you can? Someone will have to take care of it and in doing so, will gain a story that they either keep in a jar or release into the ether.
Noah Warren is a writer, blogger, and screenwriting hopeful whose insane and humorous blog The Chronicles of Noahnia can be found here. He's also the most generous and kind soul you'd ever want to meet-generous enough, indeed, to be Blogagaard's roommate for two years at St. Olaf College.