Tag Archives: literature

Writing Advice

It was Open Stage night down at the The Last Visible Dog, and Fuze was up.

“Ok, so, I was looking through old journals for something to read, and I stumbled across ones from when I was younger and…it was terrible. So, instead of reading any of that stuff, I’d like to read this review of them and some advice.

It’s possible that when the author achieves her mature voice her work will be interesting. But as it stands now her writing is a monument of how not to write when in your 20s. Or, perhaps, a series of examples of the kind of personal journals that should be lost and never rediscovered.

The only benefit we get from these petty maunderings is a list of things not to do if one wishes one’s writing to be readable by one’s future self. Namely:

1. Don’t date anyone. Or, if you do date anyone, don’t write about your everyday feelings. Or, if you must write about your feelings make sure to write both the first and last names of your love object as well as a description including their job, pet names, etc. Include a photo if possible, but don’t make a fucking scrapbook because that’s just sad.

2. Don’t write about yourself. You will not care about how awkward and out-of-place you saw yourself. It’s precisely the amount of awkward and out-of-place you will feel twenty years later. Just take awkward and out-of-place as a given and move the hell on.

3. Write about things you see in the world. Not the world at large. What are you, a historian? NOPE. What you see, like, out the tram window on the way to the county fair. That’ll be way less abysmal to re-read later, let me tell you.

4. Don’t write about your supposedly deep thoughts on how humans work. You’re in your 20s. You don’t know. I don’t know. We’ll never know. It’s all speculation, and it’s really not very interesting to read about.

5. If you travel, don’t write about how travel has really made you know yourself. Because it hasn’t.

6. Write about other people. But not people you’re dating. Seriously. That shit’s a total snoozefest.

7. If you cannot follow these guidelines, do not for any reason return to those journals. If you encounter them DO NOT READ THEM. Instead, gather them up, build a wee boat, and give them a Viking burial on the duck pond at the city park. That’s the only way to be sure.”


Extreme Piñatas

“So, did you hear that I am starting a service that offers Lord of the Flies themed parties for children?”

“That…is not a terrible idea. What age of children?”

“Well, according to the book, children as young as six, but no one over, say, thirteen.”

“What is that even going to look like anyway?”

“It all started when I kept going to kid’s parties where they had those piñatas from that one place that makes the great tamales.”


“And they seem to make their piñatas out of, like, box cardboard instead of paper mâché.”

“You mean papier-mâché.”

“No, you mean papier-mâché. I mean paper mâché, because I’m only half a snob.”

“Yeah, yeah. All right.”

“Anyway. You’ve seen this, right? The piñatas?”

“Yeah, of course. I go to the same kids’ parties you do.”

“So, with the box cardboard, little kids with their miniature arms and disappointing skills–”


“Yes. Disappointing.”

“They’re children.

“What, that means I have to have low expectations of them? Not hold them up to any standards? They could practice. They have nothing but free time. They know the parties are coming. If they don’t prepare, I get to judge them.”

“But….Never mind.”

“Anyway. They flail their broom handles or baseball bats with their poorly-coordinated and unnecessarily-ill-prepared noodle arms and Nothing Happens. You can’t destroy box cardboard with the power of wishing for the candy your hippie parents deny you every other day of the year. It takes strength and skill.”

“Have you been to one where instead of candy the parents put fruit leather or some shit?”

“Yeah. I’ve seen that. It’s like the perfect recipe for instant Lord of the Flies-style destruction of the social contract. The kids just lose their goddamned minds the moment they see that they are yet again being denied candy and decide to return to a state of nature. You know, inevitably those same parties have, like, some ridiculous non-cake too. Eight-year-olds expecting festiveness instead rioting against all that is unjust in their worlds. It’s grim.”

“And those exact parents, surrounded by a pack of feral children tear-assing around accelerating the rate of entropy and still thinking that sugar is what causes hyperactivity at parties. They give them no sugar, then blame sugar for what they see. Talk about confirmation bias.”

“So you see how Lord of the Flies comes to mind.”

“Oh, yes. I get that.”

“Anyway, one time I was talking to Daniel at his kid’s party and the piñata was, like, Thomas the Tank Engine, and was clearly just made from actual cardboard boxes. Basically un-piñatable.”

“That’s not a word.”

“It is now. And I said to him, ‘It would probably work better if we just dragged it along the ground and let the kids hunt it with sticks. We could have a pig-shaped one, like a reenactment of Lord of the Flies.’ And Daniel being Daniel he thought that sounded like an ok idea.”

“So, did you drag the Thomas the Tank Engine?”

“No. The kids were already super-invested in the useless flailing. Eventually Daniel had to step in and give it a few actually effective whacks. Once the containment core was breached…”

“It’s the Enterprise now?”

“Whatever. Once the warp core was breached, the kids were able to use their weak little jabs to tear the crêpe paper covering and the thing fell apart like a normal piñata. And thence be sugar-feral or whatever you want to call it. Anyway, the idea stuck with me and now that I have some free time…”

“Failing to work on your dissertation doesn’t actually constitute free time.”

“Ok. Um, now that I have decided to write my dissertation on Lord of the Flies…”

“You just decided that just now, didn’t you?”

Anyway. Now that I’ve decided to write my dissertation on Lord of the Flies I want to do some real world observations. But I also, you know, need a job. This does both. It’s perfect!”

“So, the kids obviously have to be old enough that they can be unsupervised, basically, because there can’t be a bunch of adults around, or it won’t be Lord of the Flies.”


“So, who’s going to drag the piñata?”

“I have that all worked out. It’s part of the service: the parents go away out of sight, and then I dress up like the corpse of the parachutist and drag the piñata.”

“The dead parachutist.”


“And you don’t see how that could be a problem?”

“No. Why? These kids are used to scary hyenas, scary kings, scary witches, scary whales, scary masterminds, scary whatever. Even the hippies can’t stop them from seeing Disney movies. Those things are, like, written on the air around us. And the most extreme Disney-avoidant ones are exactly the kind to decide they need to read their kids the original Grimm tales, or Der Struwwelpeter, or E.T.A. Hoffmann. I would think that after Scar the Lion or the Scissorman, the corpse of a parachutist would be no big deal.”

“But it’s meant to be a party, isn’t it?”

“Yeah, ok, fine! I’ll make it festive. A festive version of the corpse of the parachutist.”

“You think that’s a possible thing to do.”

“Yeah. Don’t you?”

“I won’t answer that because I think you might impale me with a spear or roll a giant boulder at me.”

“You think answering my question would force me into a state of nature?”

“I think you’re kind of always in a state of nature, just about to bust out a Lord of the Flies-themed children’s party game at any given moment. So I’ll just say that if anyone can pull of a festive corpse parachutist, it’d have to be you.”

“Want to be the my ship’s officer?”

“Ship’s officer?”

“You know, at the end. Where the warship comes and the officer berates the kids for being warlike and insufficiently British.”

“You want me to come in at the end, after the successful hunting of the pig-shaped ground piñata and the gorging on the candy and whatever and tell the kids they did a bad job and should be ashamed?”


“And you think people will pay you for all of this?”

“Yeah. You would pay me, for example. If you had kids, you would think this was the best possible party your kids could ever have.”

“Yeah….Yeah….You’re probably right. Do you think we have issues?”

“Sucks to your assmar Piggy!”

“I guess that’s my answer, isn’t it?”

No Joy(ce)

“What about Bloomsday? Do you like Bloomsday?”
“That’s a big nope.”
“Don’t you like Joyce?”
“I am unconvinced that anyone actually likes Joyce. I tried to read A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man and felt like killing myself. And not in a good way.”
“There’s a good way?”
“Well, for example, like a J.M. Coetzee In the Heart of the Country way.”
“Yup, that’s a good way.”

Russian Literature

“Is that one of the Russian novels where there’s a madman who goes on a long rant about God?”
“I think that happens in most Russian novels.”
“So it might be easier to list the Russian novels where there isn’t a madman who goes on a long rant about God.”
“I think that’s a basic and fundamental truth, yes.”