Dear Graduate Creative Writing Major,
You are not alone: A Caul to Farms
If you are struggling to find work as a writer, take heart. This letter is not for those who found themselves in a job fresh out of school, or turned an exotic internship into a crack at a mortgage. The winners, those few and far, are not my audience. I write for second-world writers like myself, people who survive in the purgatory between abject failure and principled action, who struggle with day jobs, therapy, ridicule and remorse, yet somehow get up and write every day. I write to you. The act is defiance in the face of mediocrity. I write to you because you are not on the shelf at the library yet, and maybe never will be. Your numbers are in the hundreds of thousands, your words immutable, and possibly crowding out one another, but nonetheless meaningful for whosoever you imagine should read them. All you need is a place to lay your chains down, and get to it.
Filch from the market
I make a sonder sandwich and wash it down with a cup of decades of solitude. Decades, now, and it begins to seem like a blessing after a while, when the dew settles on the fair fields of nameless lands, instead of upon the grimy surfaces of eponymous cities crawling with the eyes of the robbed, naked and walking dead. Whistle in the charnel house, whilst the pistons keep time, and the iron scrapes your sinuses
Give yourselves away. That’s why it matters. If you are filling out a questionnaire and it provides you with a text box or a chance to explain your uncategorized response, be brave. If some tracking service hounds you for a product, service or transaction review, rate the experience in terms of your own pathos and inner constellations of meaning. When you give your data away, it makes someone else rich. Make sure it’s because their data points are full of terms like “spontaneous eel cream community”, “crenelated bedsores” and “drueling palaver”. On a scale of 1 to 10, always rate the lowest, especially if promised free stuff. They want to know why. They need to understand why you are deviating. You are busting the curves on a chart somewhere. At least you have a moment under a mouse for a moment before deletion from a goofy Q3 report written by a milquetoast homonculus in fresh sweat and fluorescence. Deleted by someone wearing a name tag.
The landed gentry
I write to you because you survive and remind the monopolizing nitwits who shrink the repertoire of the casual reader to a few names, algorithmic goatherds for genres that draw the literary world into trampled fields enriched with manure of consumerism, in bold, crass strokes – you thumb your nose at the bestsellers lists, the stables at the track where purebreds are twitching and prodded and poked by trained publicists and market analysts. Forget that whole scene. Write about rare pearls and aliens and bleeding and dying among friends. “It’s wonderful.”
Pick up the blackened liquid excreta of your fluid lifestyles and the quill and move that song into new fiber, once wood, soon optic, always craving a moment, a page to die upon and crystallize in a coil like a sleeping cobra, reptilian logic coiled upon itself like struvite in a wino’s bladder. Sleep beneath your lids, oh gather now in somber reverence these stowaways in someone else’s life movie . Garlands before a portrait of an unknown saint perfume the air, in hot crypts and entering the lungs of the forgotten now. Eyes of the storm never sleep. Let them dress your words in the tumult of life’s ripping weather, the breeze stirring over an ocean as vast and impersonal as the junk in your kitchen drawer. Let them wonder. Leave them there unsure what to do next.
The Forgotten Songs I Burned in the Fire
I write to writers who take day jobs and forget to write, too. People who turned away from your dreams, like tarnished high school brass in velvet-lined cases careening towards estate sales so slowly the only song they play is the crystalline vibrations of rime and frozen spit of hydrocarbons breathed deeply into the shafts. A pause indefinitely hovering upon a coda like auroras upon the pole, stirring and illuminated by the earthbound worms in their precarnated cosmic dust. To you in your baroque fermatas, before your spark winks out one morning while squeezing out your last angry free bowel movement in a room you own or chose to rent, oh dear reader, pick up the pen or the large-buttoned keyboard under pecking and painfully twisted hands like trees caught in an epoch of winds, tell your tales in medical forms, in the yielding membranes of a softer world of pseudo data and simulated desire.
What comes after the Age of Information is the Age of Bullshizer. It’s a simulated world you have to escape, not nearly as easy to spot as the McMansions of the moyenne bourgeoisie. Artisan soaps. Snappy dressers. Shiny words. Rites endured in your dementia. Play in the madness that chases you back to the tomb just like it stalked you from the womb. Coherence and meaning? Leave it to the working poetry of slaving life. Let the nameless ones alone to weigh and apportion your share of shame and failure. A plague upon Safetytown. Your job is to write the Ass for the Angel to Sit Upon, conjure the moon for the pines of evolving hearts. Breathe in the banality, exhale the wizardry of your gleeful passions. Cuss the chains, no more. Write absolutely ridiculous letters to people who don’t make sense to you, either. Enjoy!
Prelates and Proles Abandon You in Pastoralia
Your heroes are wearing beautiful shiny bells around their necks. We feed on the fattened supranational interests of virtual marketeers, upon the meat of compliance. The bells can be transferred to the kids. It’s for the kids. Family-friendly entertainment eats garbage from a trash bin in Washington DC while traffic rushes by like a silver river. The bums in the library stay warm, so take heart in what literature provides an unkind world, solitude. From experience watching lesser known writers put on signing events at bookstores, I can tell you that the occasions can sometimes be good, and sometimes gloomy in the extreme. It’s like any job. You get paid to stand around and do something meaningless, or sit. The more money involved, the more sitting required. So, you wizardly svengalis in your cushy jobs, please, for god sake please get a pseudonym and write something crazy. The world is starved for the things you must torch and strangle down in order to stay alive. Ask me how. How are you possibly leaving it up to the musculature of slap happy hoss-riders named Creative Writing Majors who are battling boredom alone in shreds of soundbite and meme, verily. The grousing snark that has no verve or direction clouds your ample stage, and upstaged unaware are your shouldas and your couldas and your wouldas. You orphan your own hahas. How dare you?!
Think of my offer as an immodest proposal. Try to find humor in your gilded cage, sing out. You might get cancer and die, or get killed by some doatracted driver who is textin’ turds to someone on Facebook messenger tomorrow. Horrors. You are breathing champagne and peanut farts in first class and you earned it. Why perform on such a low-energy schedule? Filch the market. You leaders of industry, so capable with presentations, widgets and navigating soul-crushing meetings that decide the fates of entire communities for generations, have you no wit to spare? Are there no sweet oats in the bag to puzzle and titillate the Normies in the afternoon smog, creeping in their seat belts and aluminum beetle shells, insect-like on the porridge of prehistoric fauna and dinosaur grease? Can you please inject some danger into my NPR rotation?
Now You Have the Tools for a Filch Market
If any of these words are unknown to you, just replace them with an emoji of a turd, a kitten, or a party hat. Throw a cup of tea on it and read the leaves that stick. Since these words on my website are not on a deadline, nor under contract, I am free to write without any curmudgeonly type holding an ax of Damocles over my head and threatening to cut off my $20 fee because of some flimsy status quo or a boss or another dreaded my prosaic reckoning. Just remove the carrot. Rip gravity out from under your own feet and float away on a story. You can filch every survey and data point. Give them art. Create business cards for excusing sneezes and holding doors.
If You Seek Happiness, You Will Not Find Yourself
Our searches are tailored to reveal nothing we are not privileged to know. Want a job? Access denied? Pay off your debt and go on vacation? Access denied? Meet people in a real setting and work towards organizing resources? Access denied? Create an autonomous syndicate to push out your own art with a group of other tolerable misanthropes, geniuses, madcap freaks and ephemeral vagabonds? Market unknown? Get in line and buy a website, the abyss awaits your bytes. There is no accounting for good taste. Writing isn’t a fine art. It’s a craft. Like mule skinning, you keep the strop, the water boiling, and the urine handy to soften the skins on the racks. Bare bodkins, even if they don’t bring home paychecks in the quietus of your holy realms, knit and follow the cuts of the ever-grazing, bell-wearing parade of scribes courting the noblesse somewhere above flying first class and farting champagne and legume memories in canned airspace, no less. Enjoy your brand.
Crafty Weirdness, Olé!
Fine arts depend upon writing to convey something which doesn’t require it, but use it to assign value. Writing is a craft. Writing is lowly and dangerous, because writing reveals ideas and is indefatigably real as the voice you use in your head to read this paragraph. Words can be scratched in the bed frame of a prison. They can decorate the entrance of a mausoleum, or heap praise on decorated heroes. Words are spades for digging and turning the foul earth for spring’s unnamed fruits that feed our bodies and dreams.
Stay in the Metanarrative
That is why my website is generalized. That is how I am able to move from career to career. It is, to me, a lesson not given in antiquated literature that still shapes people’s mind. In old plays and stories, you have a hierarchy of change and significance. The most hollow and prominent people have interior thought and share experiences dear and near. They can change. We call them protagonists and antagonists. We feel for these characters. The flaws in their character make them endearing. There is something under the surface. But what of the chorus? Upon the stage, the central characters wrestle with love and life, but in the shadows step forth melodious characterizations of the drama. The supporting characters, foiled down to the last shopping-cart pushing prophet and loyal squire, serve as exemplars of the movements that lead one from the beginning to the end, and people in their own realities will never understand how or why you change or what you are capable of thinking, so transform, like Kafka. Bringo! The characters are not 2D, the supporting cast is fleeing into a multiverse. Sorry, oh wild and bifurcating world, the stories have run amok. Just keep the ideas alive. They carry you over the Styx of the Real World and all it’s maya and emptiness.
I struggled for years to find a decent job and applied to literally thousands of jobs. Thousands. My resumes went into the parsing software, and were rejected instantly. They never even found human eyes. Failure, automated and perfect, rejection by rejection, a file of eponymous inhumanity measured in bytes, the rejections themselves with no more substance than the process by which they were calculated. Positive empiricism cutting people free of their ivory towers like so many identical and inquisitive cookies who look for dark warm caves to explore. The dance of Ego, the garb of Want, the breathe of Sorrow is quite a Show.
Create An Absolutely Bonkers Resume or a Currickrollum Vitae, and a Breadcrumb Trail of Expert Reviews to Support Your Nom de Plum
I used to have one on standby in case I needed it, like a fire extinguisher, to put out the flames of despair. The trick is to take these fallow fields and plow them with the sharp tools of your disquieting abilities. Plant new crops, light new fires from their husks. Light yourself on fire and burn away, robust and fierce your tendrils of flames leaping like cats in fright against the night potato vampires of Cambodian creek shrimp of misplaced metaphors. And because of the burning, ask for insurance. And a corner office in an igloo.
Every two weeks, apply for a job you don’t want or could never obtain. There is a good chance someone reading this has already received an inane application from one of my adepts. I have no control over it.