Tag Archives: satire

Pearls of wisdom for budding writers…

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.
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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.

DON’T PROCRASTINATE

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.

Banana Del Ray…

…Born To Split

Careers guidance: The hobbies section of my résumé

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.

(Via)

Europe according to Berlusconi

(click image to view large – thanks for the tip, Olly! Think I might spend summer on the Mare Criminale)

Mapping stereotypes

Yanko Tsvetkov has produced a fantastic series of maps looking at the way we see stereotypes. You can see the full set and buy large prints on his website – but these are some of my favourites.


Where I Live
Map. Digital illustration. Editorial for Süddeutsche Zeitung, June 2009


Europe according to Germany
Map. Digital illustration.


Europe according to Italy
Map. Digital illustration.


Europe according to Britain
Map. Digital illustration.


Europe according to Gay Men
Map. Digital illustration.

(ps, thanks for the spot, Max)

Online communities – world map

Click image to view large (recommended). By XKCD.

(ps – thanks for the spot Max!)