Lance Manion's Blog

October 31, 2014

There is nothing quite like the exhilaration of heading out on a crisp October night to do some trick or treating with your kids. Their palpable anticipation is like a live wire running directly from their eyes to my heart, making it flutter as we put the finishing touches on our costumes and head out to visit friends and neighbors. I am dressed as the Grim Reaper, my older son as Walt Whitman and my youngest as a clumsy research assistant from the Wistar Institute of Anatomy and Biology.
Why a clumsy research assistant from the Wistar Institute of Anatomy and Biology you ask? Give me one second to slip in the first Walt Whitman quote and I'll explain.

There was a child went forth every day;
And the first object he look'd upon, that object he became;
And that object became part of him for the day, or a certain part of
the day, or for many years, or stretching cycles of years.

The Wistar Institute of Anatomy and Biology was where Walk Whitman's brain was taken to be researched after his passing. That is until one day a careless researcher dropped it. It broke into numerous pieces and was summarily scooped up and thrown in the trash. No fanfare. Just tossed in the garbage.
My oldest son, Walt, calling me My Captain since donning his disguise, he thought of that himself, and his little brother, clutching their plastic pumpkins, strode through our front door and into the beckoning night. You'll excuse me if I say things a bit poetic, seeing him dressed as Walt gets my literary juices flowing.
At the first door the clumsy research assistant from the Wistar Institute of Anatomy and Biology rings the bell and when the door opens Mr. Whitman says " O me! O life!... of the questions of these recurring!" instead of "Trick or treat" just as we'd practiced. Delighted neighbors squeal their approval and produce handfuls of candy to reward them for their cleverness. Death, in the form of myself, gives a nodding approval from the shadows and shepherds the pair to the next house.

Whoever you are, I fear you are walking the walks of dreams,
I fear these supposed realities are to melt from under your feet and
hands;

This production is repeated dozens of times until their pumpkins are overflowing with all things sticky and sugary. We all sense that the end of the evening is neigh as we decide to visit one last abode before returning to our own, there to spill our bounty on the floor and divide the candy into various piles to be consumed or traded or discarded. Such is our revelry that I put aside the fact that this last house contains an individual that I loathe. A man whom I've had quarrels with in the past.
A door bell is pressed. A " O me! O life!... of the questions of these recurring!" is cheerfully offered up. The man looks down on my sons momentarily then puts down his bowl of candy and departs, to return momentarily holding a package of sandwich meat. He carefully places a slice of bologna into each of the plastic pumpkins and then closes the door a little too forcefully in the faces of my offspring.
Not allowing this to spoil our fun I remove the slimy offenders and make light of it as we depart. I cheerfully walk Walt and my clumsy research assistant home. I was going to say clumsy research assistant from the Wistar Institute of Anatomy and Biology but I feared that you might be a little sick of reading all that so I went with the shorter version out of courtesy. Of course, having explained it you've now read more than you would have originally been required to to begin with so any good will I might have garnered due to my thoughtfulness has now evaporated.
After the requisite amount of giggling and tomfoolery I put my two happy children to bed. Despite the enormous amount of sugar no doubt coursing through their system they drop off to sleep quickly after a prolonged evening of physical activity and I'm free to once again don my costume.
I return to my bologna-dispensing neighbors house. Except this time I have hopped over the back fence and entered through rear door. When he sees a dark figure clutching a scythe standing in his kitchen he knows instantly and with no uncertainty that he's about to die.

I hear secret convulsive sobs from young men, at anguish with
themselves, remorseful after deeds done;

There is no need to tell you how I dispatched him, only that I did. After some minutes rummaging through his garage, to find a saw, and his cabinets, to find an ice cream scooper, I have his skull off and I'm scraping out his brain like the innards of a pumpkin ... careful to throw it out with the same indifference shown by the staff at the Wistar Institute of Anatomy and Biology.

That the hands of the sisters Death and Night, incessantly softly
wash again, and ever again, this soil'd world:

What a sight awaits the next visitors to his house. Him seated at his door within arms-reach of his tub of candy, a single candle flickering inside his empty head, the light making its way out of the two empty sockets where his eyes used to be. How long will it be until they recover from their initial fright and realize that it's not an elaborate prop but the remains of a fellow human being?
I return home to shower and remove any evidence of my visit. Upon checking on my sons again I see that, despite its apparent itchiness, my eldest has once against slipped on his big grey Walt Whitman beard. I smile broadly and kiss them both on their foreheads.
You have to love All Hallows' Eve.
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Published on October 31, 2014 06:45 • 23 views • Tags: halloween

July 2, 2014

I've never been a big fan of civil disobedience. It just seems such an impotent act. A bunch of slackers wearing nose rings throwing bricks through front windows is not my idea of revolution.
The biggest problem these days is with revolution itself. It's been co-opted. Bought, labeled and used to sell fabric softener and pick-up trucks.
Which is why I'm calling for one enormous act of rebellion to remind everybody why we need rebellion in the first place.
This is a call to burn down the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum. It is everything wrong with our culture boiled down to one location. Ground Zero of hypocrisy. The spot where the very spirit of rebellion has been stolen by corporate America.
I want it burnt to the ground. Not metaphorically, I mean literally destroyed and left a smoldering pile of rubble.
How can we ever hope to address the problems in our government, both locally and in Washington D.C., when the very music that was supposed to be a revolt against the norm is now simply revolting? Rock and roll was supposed to be something that made the older generation nervous, not a way to peddle soft drinks. How did the corporate types ever get the first bands to agree to such an offensive premise?
I still can't believe that so many bands get excited to be inducted into the musical equivalent of the Anarchy Club. Congratulations, to show your rugged individuality we're going to put you alongside other such bad-asses rebels as Hall & Oates and ABBA.
I'm asking for a wild-eyed crowd of rabble-rousers to assemble and set fire to this abomination and when the inevitable suits start pouring out of the building to try and defend their beloved Madonna and Randy Newman busts like so many cockroaches I want them drawn and quartered as an example to anyone else that would ever dare to try and buy the musical soul of our nation in the future. I want their empty heads on spikes for our children's children to remember.
Maybe politicians would even take note.
How did we ever buy into this place in the first place? Every year they have their 'celebration' and it feels like every other insurance convention or law firm retreat going on across the country. It sickens me that rock stars, of all people, would allow themselves to be paraded around like so many sheep in the hopes of finding some validation that they should be the last ones seeking in the first place. That's why they don't ask real bands like Devo or The Replacements to join. I would hope they would both tell them to take a big flying leap.
Why does it matter?
Because America used to be rock and roll. We had swagger and energy and balls. Now America is Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum. If I have to explain the difference or give you a million examples to prove my point than you are too far gone to ever be of any help to get us back to where we once were.
I'm talking to the rest of you. The ones that shook your hips and threw your head back and smirked when you heard the occasional bad word. The ones that felt the vibe and it energized you to fight to bring down the rest of the squares.
This is not the way the world was supposed to be.
The radio is not how it was supposed to sound.
How long has it been since music made you want to change the world and not buy a new phone plan?
It begins and ends in Cleveland, Ohio. This blemish on our collective souls has to burn before we can ever hope to turn things around.
We could even set up a stage next to it and have bands provide a soundtrack: Burning Down the House - Talking Heads, Firestarter - The Prodigy, Open Up - Leftfield, Beds Are Burning - Midnight Oil, Dig For Fire - Pixies, Cover It With Gas And Set It On Fire - Ween ... you get the idea.
Just as long as Great White closes the show.
Now that would be rock and roll.
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Published on July 02, 2014 07:13 • 26 views • Tags: the-rock-and-roll-hall-of-fame

November 20, 2013

Hasn't Got A Prayer

One night I had a dream ... I dreamed I was walking along the beach and across the sky flashed scenes from my life.

For each scene I noticed two sets of tracks in the sand; One belonged to me, and the other appeared to have been made by a snake of some sort.

When the last scene of my life flashed before me I looked back at the tracks in the sand. I noticed that many times along the path of my life there was only the set of footprints. I also noticed that it happened at the very lowest and saddest times in my life. This really bothered me, and I questioned my penis about it.

"Penis, you said that we were a team but I have noticed that during the most troublesome times in my life there is only the set of footprints. I don't understand why in times when I needed you the most, you should leave me."

My penis replied, "My precious, precious child. I love you, and I would never, never leave you during your times of trial and suffering. When you saw only the set of footprints, it was then that you carried me in your hand."
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Published on November 20, 2013 15:06 • 48 views

October 24, 2013

Asking my Facebook friends to contribute stories to my website in the month of November. Visit my page for more info if interested. https://www.facebook.com/pages/Lance-...
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Published on October 24, 2013 06:24 • 42 views

September 15, 2013

I've never really been impressed with authors that write long teary-eyed novels about people dying of terrible diseases or uplifting stories about the armless boy who made the wrestling team. That may be exactly what the reading public is looking for I don't think it will be too long before computers can crank that crap out without the need of a frumpy middle-aged woman tapping away.
Same goes with the glut of teen wizards and werewolves that seem to be choking every shelf in the few remaining book stores.
It's all 50 shades of the same stuff.
If you want to impress me ... make me laugh.
Now I realize that the thought of impressing me is far down on your to-do list and with good reason. You've probably never heard of me and just the implication that I feel that you should be trying to impress me to begin with probably has you raising the trembling fist and strongly considering abandoning this post altogether. I understand completely.
That being said, you're probably in need of some advice on how to make people laugh so stop your bellyaching and listen up.
Let me start with a joke you've probably heard before.
*Celine Dion walks into a bar. The bartender says "Why the long face?"*
Funny. No denying that.
But why?
It's not just because Celine Dion has a long face. It's because the joke doesn't describe the bar. It just says bar and lets the listener picture any bar they want in their head. The perfect bar for Celine Dion to be walking into. The same goes with the bartender. When I heard that joke I, no doubt like yourself, had a very vivid image of what the bartended looked like and I'm guessing our two bartenders looked nothing alike.
It doesn't matter. We both pictured just the right bartender to deliver the line "Why the long face?"
Rule #1: Don't over-write.
Let the reader fill in as much detail as they can. They will image a much better scene in their head than you can possibly write. Get over yourself. Unless it's critical to the story, just give the basics.
This next one is the most important rule and I'm regretting not making it #1 but to change it now would involve a lot of copying and pasting and frankly I'm just not up to it. Suffice to say, make a little mental note that this rule should be #1 but I'll go ahead and call it #2.
Rule #2: Write to the right audience.
There are people out there that you're never going to amuse. You need to keep your writing out of their miserable hands. What you want to look for is people who have an imagination similar to your own. Ideally you want people that have at one point in their lives looked down on an odd little plant they'd never seen before and felt the need to bend over and uproot it, took a closer look to confirm that it was in fact from another planet and was sent here to sprout and consume everything in its path, destroyed it and then said to themselves "You're welcome Earth" as they walked away.
These are outstanding readers and exactly what you're looking for. I cannot stress this enough. If you can't find any of these than people who know that the time difference between the United States and Australia doesn't mean that things happen at different relative times but still think to themselves they should find a friend in Australia to let them know how all the football games turned out before they were played so they can bet on them will do.
People with a healthy appreciation of a good run-on sentence don't hurt either.
Got it? You have to accept that you're not really that funny and you are completely dependent on the reader to find something redeeming about anything you come up with.
Rule #3 isn't as important as Rule #2, which should be Rule #1, but it's more important than Rule #1 so it really should be Rule #2.
And that rule is?
Rule #3: You have to connect. You have to put yourself out there. Don't be afraid to be honest and never shy away from the stuff that makes you who you are. Funny writers have to make the reader feel like they are simpatico. For example, if you really like John Hughes movies don't be afraid to burn 16 Candles at both ends.
See what I did there? The line itself isn't funny but the connection to a beloved movie makes you find it redeeming (Rule #2).
Or, you hated the line and hate me and now wish you'd have abandoned this post back before Rule #1 (again, Rule #2 in action ... you miserable bastard).
Rule #4 is truly the least important of the four so I'm happy to address it last.
Rule #4: If you're going to use the word cornucopia in a sentence, the sentence better have to do with corn.
People are really touchy about that.
Just sayin'.
Well, I hope these four simple rules will help you in your attempts at writing funny stuff and that you return to review them often. Please let me know if you write something funny and go on to publish your own humorous short story collection. Obviously I'm far too busy to ever read it but it will give me the warm fuzzy feeling that I've helped a fellow writer blossom.
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Published on September 15, 2013 18:27 • 46 views • Tags: funny, humor-comedy

July 15, 2013

His time as a volunteer on the neighborhood watch had been going so well and now this. His worst fear realized.
He didn't even mean for it to happen. He was just walking along, making sure that no white, Hispanic, Native American or Asian people were doing anything illegal when he noticed the young black man walking down the street.
He hadn't meant to. As soon as he realized it was a black teen he averted his eyes and began to walk the other direction but he couldn't be sure if the young man had noticed or not. The neighborhood was plagued with crime committed by young black men so everyone at the neighborhood watch had to be extra careful about profiling. The very last thing they could afford to do is pay attention to the people most likely to be committing these acts.
He cursed cruel fate.
He felt somehow he deserved it because he didn't like rap music. Not even Eminem ... although the Beastie Boys were fun.
He walked more briskly, hoping to be able to turn the corner and leave the terrible encounter behind him. To make matters worse, the black kid was wearing a hoodie. He had noticed the hoodie. How much more racist could he have been? That poor sweet wonderful enormous child.
He was wondering if the youth noticed and was debating about taking a quick peek behind him when he got his answer. He felt a hand on his shoulder and turned ... right into the punch.
He felt somehow he deserved it because sometimes he wished there were more white players in the NBA. Didn't the fact that he rooted for Tiger Woods count for anything?
He fell to the ground and for the third time this week he received a very justified beating. He was just glad that he didn't have a weapon to defend himself. Lord knows what he would have done. What he was capable of.
The important thing was not to attract any attention to himself or the situation. Live or die, he knew as long as he kept his mouth shut this would never make the papers. The hot glare of the spotlight wouldn't fall on his community, exposing the bias towards crime that seemed to be festering.
The horror.
He wonders briefly whatever happened to that lovely girl Tawana Brawley.
He lay there and reflected on all the hate inside him as the kid continued to smash his face into the pavement. He hoped this young man would be able to put the terrible indignity of being observed behind him and bravely carry on with his life.
He just wanted to help keep his neighborhood safe and now look at him.
He was a monster.
Is this really the world he wanted to raise his kids in?
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Published on July 15, 2013 09:45 • 47 views • Tags: al-sharpton, george-zimmerman, trayvon-martin

February 28, 2013

I was mulling this over the other day and I couldn't quite find a hole in the logic behind it. There's no doubt we have become a society of victims. Everyone wants to feel like the world has lined up against them and any achievement they have been able to attain was done despite the best efforts of everyone who isn't them. That's a given.
But there is one group of people who seem to have a point.
Racists.
Nobody likes a racist.
Have you ever heard someone speak a kind word about a racist?
Nope.
Take a second and try to think of a redeeming feature of your typical household racist.
None come to mind right?
And that's just wrong.
Our bias towards racists is completely hypocritical if you think about it. We're going to judge people and treat them poorly simply because they hold opinions that differ from our own? For shame.
What's worse is that racism shares many of the characteristics of what we now consider 'diseases'. You can hold up most addictions, impulse control issues or religious fervor to the same inspection and find many of the same roots. But do we treat the people that 'suffer' these problems the way we do racists?
Nope.
What's worse is that you've never seen a happy racist. They might be happy outside their hobby of hating other people but when caught in the throes of hating you've never heard the words "gook", "nigger" or "spic" yelled by a smiling carefree person. Typically their faces are all screwed up in a twisted snarl and their fists are clenched and they're frothing something awful. Perhaps the KKK isn't the gutless collection of losers we make them out to be. Perhaps they wear hoods just because they are sick of having bad pictures taken of themselves while they are mid-froth.
Who amongst us doesn't make some funny faces when cheering at a sporting event?
The point being that racism doesn't appear to be too much fun. Certainly not in the category as a football game. Most racists are miserable when they are engaged in being racists so why do they insist on continuing the behavior?
Did I mention characteristics shared between them and addicts, psychotics and bible thumpers?
But nooooo. Our holier-than-thou culture doesn't cut any slack to the racist. They are always wearing the black hat in our little dramas.
Is it because they are powerful?
Are they major players on Capitol Hill?
Do they have the media in their back pocket and a way to reach a broad impressionable audience with influential advertisements for the racist outlook and way of life?
No?
It makes you wonder how racism hasn't died out yet. In the ongoing dance of social Darwinism you'd think that racism would have run out of gas if it had no way of propagating itself. It appears everyone is against it. Every TV show, radio program and printed word can't say enough bad things about it.
So why are there still racists?
Are they born with it (think homosexuality) or is it learned behavior (like hacky sack)?
The bigger issue is why is everyone so quick to look the other way when something happens that doesn't fit into their anti-racism narrative. Like when racism does something good like saves a puppy or rescues a child from a burning building. Now, of course, the blonde newswoman will be quick to point out that the fire originally started because of a cross-burning that got out of hand but that still doesn't mean that everyone shouldn't be eager to find out who it was in the white robe that ran in to save the kid and give him a pat on the back.
What was I saying?
Hmmm. Lost my train of thought when I started to think about how much more dangerous it would be to dash into a burning building wearing flowing robes. I doubt you'd see the Pope attempt such a trick.
In summation, I guess, I'd just like to see people quit picking on racists so much. They're such an easy target, like the kid riding the short bus in junior high, that it's time we allowed them into the tent so they could see that everyone pretty much blows ... not just the (insert derogatory racial slur here).
Note: you inserted a name didn't you? Didn't you?!
Filthy racist.
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Published on February 28, 2013 09:27 • 66 views • Tags: comedy, flash-fiction, humor, lance-manion, racism

February 20, 2013

The idea came to me after I saw a picture of a very ugly girl making the rounds on the internet. The thing was she was smiling and laughing, which on the downside put her enormous choppers on display, and there was something about the picture that really touched me. I mean, her teeth were a mess and her hair was a mess and her whole face was a mess but somewhere inside this mess was a human being seeking the same things that non-ugly people are looking for.
Let's be honest. Ugly people have an uphill battle in this culture. From the time they slide out of their ugly mothers they stand at the plate with two strikes. Most homeless people are ugly and if you take a good look at most trailer parks they are brimming with ugly people. I'm sure statistics would support this contention.
It's not fair.
The problem is what to do about it. Our society is way past the point of ever truly changing and appreciating inner beauty. That ship sailed the day the first eyeballs came online. Evolution saw to that. Until then ugly things could squirm and crawl around without a problem but once the first set of eyes popped onto the scene it was over for the ugly creatures.
I know ugly people. They are just like the rest of us ... just not as attractive. Some of them don't even know they are ugly. That's bad. Some of them do. That's worse. They are good people, they just have bad genes, and I'm sick of them being treated like second class citizens simply because of some physical issues. I won't list the breathtaking array of offenders here because I want this to be a pro-ugly movement and if I tick off all the various maladies I might want to switch sides.
Anyway, here's the deal. It's simple as can be. On April 2nd everyone who is considering going out and getting laid will just lower their standards quite a bit and sleep with the ugliest person they can find of the opposite sex. Unless they are gay of course. Whichever way their wind blows. Point is, one day will not kill anyone. Think of how happy that ugly person will be. I can't believe that anyone could do such a noble act and not look back with some pride on the fact they made someone's life better.
I'm not making this mandatory for those who are not interested in casual sex, I'm talking only to those men and women who would be going to sleep with a stranger anyway. Throw a dog a bone for once in your self-absorbed, sex-crazed life.
I think this could really take off. Ugly people everywhere would count the days until April 2nd. The fact that it follows April Fool's Day would make it especially easy to remember. It's as if life played a cruel April Fool's Day joke on an ugly person with a hunchback or cleft lips and then the next day makes it up to them. Right now all they are getting is the cruel.
Sometimes it's easy for the rest of us to forget about those less fortunate. There are fundraisers galore for every disease and disability you can think of but nobody is doing anything for the ugly amongst us. The ones who weren't lucky enough to come down with some rare condition that would cause all sorts of benefits and ribbons to come cascading down on them making them feel part of the larger whole.
And one last note. If you are willing to sleep with an ugly person on April 2nd ... don't mail it in. Give them your best effort. Put that penis or vagina to work and give them the time of their lives. It might be another year before they are getting some so give them something to remember.
So remember the date!
April 2nd: National Have Sex With An Ugly Person Day
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Published on February 20, 2013 15:17 • 113 views

January 9, 2013

If you write enough you eventually reveal yourself to be a hypocrite. It was only a couple months back I went on a rant about midgets and mentioned Peter Dinklage by name as someone who should just be happy that he wasn't thrown off a cliff at birth or some such stupidity. Now, having finished watching The Station Agent, I sit here having an epiphany that I should have had years ago and probably did but it disappeared back into the recessed of my mind like every other epiphany I have or haven't had since I discovered how nice it was to repeatedly chemically alter that same mind.
There's a scene in the movie where it shows a couple of redneck dullards reacting to his presence (he's a dwarf if you're unfamiliar with his work) with laughter and cruel taunts. This pains his friend to no small degree who then tries with little affect to stick up for him. A very generic scene and one that has probably been done in movies a million times but at that moment I realized that that the assholes were happy and the sensitive guy was unhappy and it occurred to me that being a dick is easier and more fun than being a good person.
I know, real groundbreaking stuff.
But it's true. To feel empathy and compassion turns almost every interaction into a torturous exercise in hope and disappointment while on the other hand getting a quick rush of ego at the expense of another person seems like a pretty good deal.
Here's another thing to take into account. That same dwarf that you made a rude remark about has probably made the same remark about someone else's quirk or handicap just like you've probably rushed to the defense of someone that you have a personal relationship with. Same players but the dick is on the other foot. Wait, the shoe is on the other dick?
You get the gist.
You overhear a dwarf saying something nasty at the expense of a friend with a bad stutter and for a second you have the surreal experience of being all high and mighty with the same dwarf that you were only moments before being a dick to.
The Station Agent only got it half right (no, that is not a dwarf reference ... although I'm sure my subconscious is going crazy trying to squeeze a few in) and really didn't need to make the two hick antagonists such dimwitted stereotypes. They were us. They could have just as easily been two dwarves laughing at a hunchback. Or two hunchbacks seeking a brief respite from being two hunchbacks by making fun of a guy with Ambras syndrome.
We all run hot and cold. Cruel and empathetic. Petty and giving, and it's only the mix of these traits that makes us who we are.
Horrible people.
It's all about circumstance and who we are at any given point in time. There are moments where I am the dwarf and there are moments where I am the sleeveless, tattooed guy in a John Deere hat and to try and pretend otherwise is not only disingenuous but makes you momentarily blinded to the fact that the dwarf I just mentioned turns out to be an alcoholic racist and you are an asshole for assuming that wearing a sleeveless shirt, having a tattoo or sporting a John Deere hat in any way makes you less of a person.
But don't worry, you have plenty of company. I thought the same thing when I first typed that sentence.
What's worse is that depending on the hour of the day I can be either guy. Sometimes I'm even a sleeveless, alcoholic, tattooed, racist dwarf in a John Deere hat.
And so are you.
So I guess what I'm saying is that Peter Dinklage is entitled to no more or no less respect than anyone else just because he's a dwarf and therefore in a roundabout way I'm not so much apologizing for my past comments as recognizing and accepting that I can be an asshole when it suits my purposes.
Just like Peter Dinklage.
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Published on January 09, 2013 14:19 • 132 views • Tags: flash-fiction, humor, lance-manion, peter-dinklage, short-stories

November 30, 2012

If only good writers wrote books there would only about a dozen released every year and the entire publishing industry would collapse. Authors such as myself are vital and ride in to the rescue to champion bad sentence structure, poorly executed narratives and unimaginative plotlines. Fuck twists and turns, get to the point I always say.
Let's back up a bit and I'll try to explain what I mean. You've no doubt heard of writers that write down each sentence of their book on a notecard and then review it over and over to make it the best sentence it can be. Then they put all these sentences together carefully over the course of years to produce a final product that they deem worthy of publication.
That's not me.
At all.
I try not to even read anything I've written until it is time to throw it in a book. My rough draft is what I post on my site. It was hard enough to write let alone having to subject myself to it again. If you've never read my blogs you won't understand but if you have accidentally stumbled upon one then you're probably nodding your head in complete agreement. I mean to say, sometimes a turd can be interesting. I'm not saying every turd is interesting but the one thing I can guarantee is that polishing a turd will not improve things. In fact, if you were to use one of the big electric floor polishers on a turd then the results will be unfortunate ... i.e. if I wrote down every sentence of my story on a card in order to improve it I would just end up with shit all over the place.
I view myself as a literary janitor, sweeping up after the parade for a New York Times Best Seller has come through town. Not everyone enjoys a parade. Most people do I'll grant you but not everyone. Usually there are a few people who are looking down and finding something more interesting caught in a storm grate or written in fading spray paint on an alley wall.
They buy books as well.
Just not my books.
Yet.
And they deserve the very least I can provide. I prefer short stories because if the idea is a good one I can hand it over to the reader without mangling it too badly and if it sucks then I won't be wasting too much of their time.
It starts with a single random thought. The one thing I've learned is that I can't force it. If I try and think of something it will never come. Most times it doesn't even appear so much as hint at itself. It's like a squirrel that I see out of the corner of my eye. I have to pretend i don't see it at first or it will sprint off. I will make small talk to myself as I slowly reach for a pen to jot it down. Sometimes despite my best efforts it will take off and no amount of chasing will give me a good look at it. You know squirrels, they have that annoying habit of racing behind a tree and the keeping it between you and themselves. The only thing to do is scream "Fuck you squirrel! You weren't such a great squirrel anyway!" and then retreat to a discreet location and hope you can see it jumping around in the treetops later on.
You see what I mean about turds?
I can write that squirrel metaphor down on a hundred notecards and it's not going to help. Those of you who enjoy a good parade are going to openly question if I'm retarded and wonder why anyone would ask me to describe my writing process. I think the only two bits of advice I got from other writers were to avoid using exclamation points, to which I told them to mind their own fucking business!!, and to revise revise revise. To which I told them to mind their own fucking business.
I write when I want to write. If I don't want to I don't. I write for as long as I want to. When I get bored or frustrated because I suck at writing I stop and go do something else. It seems like common sense but you'd be surprised at the number of opinions on the topic. Never be fooled into thinking that writing is some higher calling. People write because they have nothing better to do. Writing is not life, it is the absence of life. You do it to fill in the gaps between real experiences. Reading can be real and powerful and meaningful but writers are just the suckers who trade hours of their life to provide people they'll never meet with a few hours of entertainment.
In a perfect world I'd be happy and busy and never have time to write another word. But that's not going to happen, I have too much free time on my hands so I choose to fill it by writing stupid shit that comes into my head.
Happy? Instead of writing tips you got a confession.
So to wrap this up. The 'process' is simple. Just write it down. Don't worry about the 'craft', that only applies to about a dozen people. The rest of us are just churning shit out. Write it down, make sure it's about as honest as you can be and then keep your expectations low. With the new eBook technology and self-publishing tools out now there are more authors than readers. You're not going to make a penny. If you want to get paid for writing then be a journalist.
I once wrote this as a Facebook update:
**I hate when you take a swig of a drink you've left in the car awhile only to find your mouth full of mosquito larvae and algae because 'awhile' is 3 weeks.
I wonder what the Aztecs would make of escalators. Probably worship whomever showed one to them.
Always eager to find the connection between 2 unrelated thoughts I came up with a mosquito escalator. Of course, their long thin legs might get caught in the grooves of the moving stairs so that makes the idea implausible. I picture there being all these legs that have been ripped off sticking up all over the place as the escalator endlessly rumbles upwards and all these mosquitoes at the top pissed off.
Words are awesome. I don't even know you and I put that image in your head.**
Then someone posted the following reply:
**The legs sticking out of the escalator steps reminded me of the time my dad was painting his boat. I pointed out all of the bugs landing on the wet paint, then getting their legs stuck in the paint. He said, "No problem. I just let the paint dry, then use a very fine sand paper to sand off the bodes & legs. You'll never notice the microscopic portion left in the paint." This is also the man who would swallow whatever was drowning in his beer, just to gross us out. My dad, Bug Destroyer.**
So much better than what I originally wrote and the closest I've ever felt to being validated as a writer.
To help spark a memory like that made me feel, even if it were only a few minutes, that writing isn't a complete waste of my time.
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Published on November 30, 2012 09:25 • 103 views • Tags: lance-manion