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Archive for the ‘humor’ Category

It’s funny how your mind works. One minute you’re trying to think of something worth writing about, and the next you’re wondering who would win between Godzilla and the Hulk. Then you’re thinking that actually the two of them have a lot in common (big, green, ticked off, created by nuclear bombs) and would probably be great friends if they stopped talk a minute. Which, fortunately for the rest of us, isn’t going to happen.

And then you start thinking, hey, I’m a writer, and writers are a lot like that big green guy–the Hulk, not Godzilla, although I’d be willing to be convinced of that. So how are writers like the Hulk? Let me count the ways…

  1. They tend to jump around a lot with no apparent plan, but somehow they get the job done.
  2. When they’re criticized, they try to stay calm, but inside they want to smash you! (Okay, writers are more like Bruce Banner that way. The Hulk would just smash you.)
  3. They have a propensity for wearing purple pants and no shirts. (There’s a reason writers work alone.)
  4. When they’re stomping around trying to work something out in their heads, it’s best to give them lots of space.
  5. They are, to put it mildly, wildly misunderstood.
  6. They take great leaps.
  7. They try to pare their dialogue down to the most essential words and phrases.
  8. They don’t work well with others, but if Scarlett Johansson bats her eyes at them, they’ll usually settle down.
  9. They both work mostly in fiction.

And the final thing that writers and the Hulk have common:

10. The Hulk is stronger than a tank, and the pen is mightier than the sword.

#SFWApro

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If nothing else, this should prove the truth of my recent tweet: “The easiest thing about writing is thinking of ways not to.” Because if there were ever a good excuse for not writing, being able to say “I’m the President of the United States and I’m too busy to write,” has to rank near the top.*

On the other hand, writers have a lot of qualities that one would want in a president. Let’s see now…

  1. We’re patient. We’re used to fighting great odds for a long time without any apparent progress.
  2. We plan ahead. Okay, some of us operate by the seat of our pants, but by the time anyone else knows it, we’ve finished the job and made it look seamless.
  3. We know how to listen. Writers don’t write books, characters do. We just transcribe.
  4. We can take criticism. Actually, we don’t have much choice, but then neither does the president.
  5. We’re used to bad press. Not every review is positive, and we learn to ignore them. If this seems inconsistent with no. 4, then…
  6. We can handle contradictory ideas simultaneously. One beta reader wants the story to go this way. The other wants the story to go that way. Both might be good, but which is better?
  7. We know when to stop. Sometimes a story near and dear to your heart just isn’t coming together; you have to be able to put it aside.
  8. We can work with co-equal branches. You can negotiate with an editor, but you can’t ignore him.
  9. We’re not too proud to accept help. Amazon reviews! Please!
  10. The buck stops here. If something isn’t working, there’s no one else to blame.

So the next time someone tries tempting you with politics, you can say: “I’m a writer, and I’m too busy to be President of the United States.”

 

*If anyone can find an actual instance of a president ever having uttered this sentence, I’ll buy you an ice cream cone.

#SFWApro

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You knew it would come to this. At least you knew it if you know me. My friends are all well aware of the dangers of allowing me anywhere near The Perfect Dessert, as I like to call it. (I also like to call it The Perfect Breakfast, but that’s a story for another time. Maybe tomorrow morning.)

So it was only a matter of time before my two greatest passions* collided in one great, frozen blog post. Like chocolate and peanut butter, they meld into a delicious amalgam. At least, they’d better, or this is going to be a short essay.

  1. The smoother they are, the more they are considered “premium.”
  2. Both are best served cold and allowed to melt on the tongue.
  3. They come in hundreds of flavors, and each has its fans.
  4. They come packaged in all sizes, and you can dole them out as you choose.
  5. Although you can get them pretty much anywhere, specialty stores carry the most varieties.
  6. Each is made to be “devoured.”
  7. You can carry a small one in your hand and consume it as you walk, although care must be taken.
  8. Both will expand you: one your waistline, the other your mind.
  9. You may find either one by guys named Ben, and Jerry.
  10. The best will always leave you wanting more.

And the bonus reason writing is like ice cream: If you’ve ever tried eating that freeze-dried astronaut ice cream, it tastes like paper.

*No, I didn’t include my wife, because she’s in a class by herself.

#SFWApro

 

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Well, plainly no. 1 is that they both depend on a flashy come-on.

No. 2: The first time you succeed may not be your all-time best, but it will be the one you remember.

No. 3: Maintaining a series will make you very popular–word will get around.

No. 4: Size appears impressive, but it isn’t everything.

No. 5: Some are slow and careful, some are quick and rough. Each approach has its fans.

No. 6: Some take a few hundred pages to reach a climax, some reach it in a few hundred words. Again, each approach has its fans.

No. 7: If you can do it in the movies, you’ve got it made.

No. 8: Your first time may take decades, but the longer you do it, the more frequently you succeed.

No. 9: You can’t break the rules until you understand them.

No. 10: When you get really good, people will beg for more.

And for a bonus, one reason writing isn’t like sex: If your spouse banishes you to the couch, you can still write.

#SFWApro

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One of the very worst inventions in the history of literature was not open-ended reversion clauses, not the 15% agent, not even Amazon.com–it was the video game. A pernicious, insidious stealer of time, the video game has done more to damage the production of worthwhile literature than The New York Times best-seller lists.

This is not news, of course. I gave up games years ago for this very reason. Recently, however, I inherited a couple of laptop PCs. Thinking that having a Windows machine available would be handy under certain circumstances (#Macforlife), I opened them both to see which I should keep and what needed to be erased on the one I gave away. And then I met my DOOM.

See, I used to play DOOM, back in the 90s, and I still had a DOOM II CD. “I wonder,” I wondered innocently, “if one of these machines would play that CD?”

“Noooo!” Future Me screamed, but who listens? It turns out one of them did indeed play the disc, and I was returned to the low-res world of Hell. Not the Hell on Earth of the game, mind you, but the Hell of Lost Productivity and the Hell of Ow-My-Shoulders-and-Wrists!

Turns out the game wouldn’t save, so when I found myself dying repeatedly a few levels in, I gave up. Good thing, too, or I’d be in the orthopedic ward in short order. (#MovingtowardEnlightenmentsucks.) I’d also still be working on The Cosmic City in July.

So I shut all that down. I am done with video games. Too much time-suck, too much pain. Maybe when VR becomes more affordable, and they invent Virtual Writer, a game where you create an author avatar who writes all your books for you…

Oh, yes, that would I go for. Fire up the GoFundMe page, boys, I’m on the ground floor!

(And if anybody wants that DOOM II CD, it’s for sale. Cheap.)

#SFWApro

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I’m happy to announce that the podcast of my story, “Founding Principals,” revealing the shocking truth behind the Founding Fathers and the birth of our nation, is now live. Trust me, they didn’t teach you this in school.

 

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It’s funny how deep a conversation you can have about the ostensibly shallowest of subjects. Case in point: “Cartoons: Generic Fantasy or Magical Realism?”

Now, of course the conversation didn’t start that way, and nobody was titling it, but that’s what it turned out to be. I argued that “Rocky and Bullwinkle” were magical realism, because, well, talking animals. I later changed it to science fantasy, because there were also aliens. But that’s the point–how deep can you get?

It was argued to me that R&B were only generic fantasy because the only fantasy element was talking animals, but Bugs Bunny, now he’s magical realism. That could be because of his quick-change abilities; not even a rabbit is that fast, and where does he keep all this stuff? (Maybe a pocket universe, but then you get back to science fantasy.)

Now, when you get into Bugs, you really get metaphysical, because of Elmer Fudd. Fudd spends all of his time trying to hunt down a rabbit that he can talk to and who talks back. A rabbit who is clearly sentient. (Daffy? Maybe a little wiggle room there.) When you’re hunting down sentient creatures, that’s not called “hunting” anymore–it’s called attempted murder. Elmer is the Sideshow Bob to Bugs’s Bart. The guy should be in prison.

But of course it’s all in fun, and Bugs makes Elmer look the fool every time. (Nor does Daffy seem to suffer unduly from his various mishaps.) And maybe that’s the difference between “fantasy” and “magical realism,” because there are no consequences, and no harm lasts. There is no “realism,” even magical, in these cartoons.

Except of course in “The Simpsons.” Totally real.

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