As if. Do you think I would submit a piece called the "art of writing" if I knew anything about how to write stuff. What do you take me for? I can barely hold a pencil straight long enough to write down the number of the local pity clinic where I go weekly to get shots of confidence for my lagging libido. And besides none of that has anything at all to do with whether or not I can write. But I've come this far ("or written" if you insist) and I guess I'll try and crank out a page or two.
If you're reading this in the New Yorker Magazine, then hurray for me! If this came to you via a message board on the internet, then not so much hurray for me, but not bad Joe, because perhaps some rich widow will read it and think that I'm the next John Cheever and buy some big magazine for me, and let me publish all my works unencumbered by society snobs who live on Park Avenue, but frequent whore houses in Brooklyn. Actually the best whores are in Queens, but the price is a bit better in Brooklyn, so the proper method here is to compare and contrast price and quality.
The best way to write a book is to make up a bunch of stuff, put these things in some kind of order, put the page number on the left side of the page, and send it in to all of the top houses, heaving out your thought seeds broadcast throughout the publishing world, until some dumb bunny is stupid enough to buy your garbage and cut you a check. That's how it's done. I told you I can't write, but I know enough about the publishing world to know that if you take the bus up to New York, slip past security and get into the office of the major domo of, say, The New Yorker, and beg to be published, I mean beg so hard and pray too, even going so far as to invite the publisher to get on his knees as well, to ask Jesus to publish my work, then this could have some beneficial effect.
Go to Hell with that quality and sincerity baloney. All that will get you is baloney sandwiches the rest of your life. And if you're lucky, you might get some mayonnaise too. I have always looked out for my co-writers. I believe that united, artists can remake the world. With only our pens we can stab other writers in the back, thus lessening the competition and opening the way for a new life of money, sex, and power, which is what we all want. Don't deny it either. If you do, I'll stick you in the eyes with my pencil. I'm not a kidder when it comes to my work. I'll do it. Just give me an excuse. I'm ready pal.
I hate to seem uncaring. The art of writing also requires that one be able to watch endless hours of television, stare at a computer keyboard for fifteen minutes and then return to the TV. No one can underestimate the importance of TV in a young boy's life. And when that boy grows into a man and becomes a fine writer, he will be able to draw upon that skill. I grew up in the 60's, a time when many have said that television was at its nadir. Those people obviously never saw Mr. Ed. This show, about a talking horse was probably more important to me than any other show of the period. It proved that no matter how bad, or how unfunny a television sitcom was, it could remain on the network schedule long enough to get a syndication deal. What does this show to the aspiring writer? Nothing, except that I filled nearly an entire paragraph with that little point there. And pointless or not, a writer is paid by the word, sometimes a penny or more, so throw extra words into your submissions whenever possible. The actual words don't matter, but you may want to use shorter ones, as they take up less space (but still count as whole words!) and require less effort on your part. Also less paper. And if the submission is rejected for whatever reason, you don't want to have wasted too much paper on this one magazine or porno website.
Advice to the writer: Always use the backs of sheets of paper of rejected manuscripts for new submissions. Not only will this save you money, but is easier than going to the store for more paper every time you want to write something new. That is if you could write. Believe me, if you could write, you would be out writing something, rather than reading about the art of writing by some guy you don't know. I mean I don't think I know you. It's always possible that we could have met somewhere, at a gas station, pool hall, whore house, saloon, or candy store (the only places I ever frequent) but I doubt it. If you are reading this and recognize my name, just keep moving. Do not try and contact me. If you do, and this is a promise, I will put on my bathrobe, knock on my parent's door and ask them to shoo you away. So just keep reading.
All I want to do is help. I want to be there for the aspiring writer, to give the essential hints and cues on how to beat this racket and make some cash before anyone finds out that you are a bum. Excuse me, but I don't think I'm telling you anything you didn't already know.
Most aspiring writers want to write the "great American novel". This is how you do it. Try to focus your mind on things that the average person knows next to nothing about, but pretends that he does. Like why we're in Iraq. That's a good start. You could start there. Write about Iraq and our mission there as if you have some idea what it is. Maybe you are a dumbbell, but you must have figured out by now there's not one person on this planet that knows what the hell we're doing there. But we must complete our mission, and we need more troops. Write a nice big book about all that, and make it sound real complicated. The more obtuse and obscure you are the better. This is the meal ticket, so follow my advice.
Then once you've tricked a publisher into marketing your book, market it like a whore makes tracks for tricks. Don't be shy about it. Get out there on the talk circuit and lie about everything. It wouldn't hurt to be at least a little homosexual. Most people don't like homosexuals, but they like to read their books (the dish) and believe them to have super powers beyond those of mortal men. Also by being that way you can sleep with twice as many radio talk show hosts and newspaper columnists and such. You will need to do that to have any success.
We've departed some from the title "The Art of Writing". I don't know why, but often in life art so easily becomes commerce and the artist inside you is lost forever. Use that bullshit on talk shows a lot and people will think you've got some real substance there. That's the absolutely most important thing. To convince the people with money enough to buy a book that you are a smart, interesting, avant-garde type who just might sleep with boys, like Gore Vidal or Tennessee Williams. They'll love that. You think Michael Jackson has sex with boys because it's fun? It's a career move for God's sake. Of course, if you aren't into that, then just lie about it. Don't come right out and say that you are a pervert. Our folks here in the USA don't like it direct. Be kittenish. Sly. Use the power you have inside that God himself has made ready for you to take and leap into the circle of success. Or something like that. I'm starting to tire of advising you.
The rules governing writing are a mysterious and unsorted lot. And reading monographs like this on how to achieve success in the field will only narrow your chances. Read all of the essentials like Erma Bombeck, Norman Vincent Peale, Dear Abby, and some of the more important comic book writers for examples of style and how to cram as many words into a meaningless sentence as possible. Remember, the watchword here is cram, cram cram! Using the same words is good too. There is no rule in literature that you can't repeat yourself. See how nicely I'm filling up space here? If you stay with this proven method, and go on and on about drivel that no one cares about, you will easily fill up page after important page with letters and punctuation marks, making your quota of words, but more importantly learning how to become a great word processor. You have the tools. All you need now is to sharpen them. You may not, however, use my sharpener. It was given to me by my aunt the year before she died and she was the family sharpener. I wish I had the family smoother, though. My understanding is that is where all of the money is being made these days, smoothing, not sharpening, But, hey, stick with the writing. The worst that could happen is failure, and look at me! I've failed at everything I've ever tried, but am now finding great success in advising young people on how to beat the system. Sure, it's a racket. But a more lucrative and lovely one has yet to help me out of the gutter and into a nice pair of pants and a new package of underpants like this one here, which I plan to buy with the proceeds of this article.
Don't worry about anything. If you do, it will be noticeable to the high-muckety-mucks, who, with all of their finery and good manners and tea times and such will pick up on your indecision and hesitancy. So if you are really worried about a piece of work you've done and find yourself sitting outside the office of Bennett Cerf (or better yet a living publisher. Cerf will take his time in getting to you and if you watch "What's My Line" you will see that he likes pretty girls and is something of a flirt) be sure to wear something revealing and tastefully sexual. If you are a guy, don't worry either. I think Cerf went both ways.
Try having original thoughts and writing them down before you forget them. If you were, for example, to write a story based on a painting of dogs playing cards, make one of the dogs gay, and suggest that one of the others is a cheat (but not with his toes. Too pat). People love dog stories. Lassie and other dogs are great examples for you to learn how to construct a good dog story. The obvious drawback in writing about a dog is the lack of dialogue from the dog, herself. Don't let that worry you too much. Make out like she's thinking and write that down as if she were talking. Have her think like a human, though. I wouldn't want to chance submitting a manuscript to a publisher full of dog thoughts, in the dog's nomenclature. This probably wouldn't be seen as a selling point. And that's what you must always remember when writing high quality stuff; make it easy for the average moron (or idiot) to understand you. This is why I prefer picture books for the first time author. They are easy on the eyes and you don't have to worry about words and messy encumbrances like that. Picture books keep it simple, even when you do have to add a word here and there, if only to break it up.
But you want to know how to sell writing, so the plain fact is that you're going to have to use words, not pictures and there's no easy way around that, if you want to be a high quality writing person. Good, original ideas are very important. And if I had any, do you think I'd be here right now? You dumbbell. If I had some good ideas, I would be writing my own stuff, with characters and all of the other things you stuff in a book. But, alas, alas, alas, you know? You need that thing. You know what I'm talking about. That thing that helps. What is it? It's a good thing…oh yeah, inspiration. That's it! If you can find the right inspiration, you can get by with as little talent and effort as I am here, right now. Man, I sure would like some inspiration. If I had some of that, I would write up ten books and review them too! And publishers would be on their knees at my bedroom door with lucrative contracts in hand, begging for the rights to my manuscript. My Mom and Dad would have to put a sign in the window warning that "publishers will be shot on sight" just because the lawn is crawling with so many of them. I could forget about the pay toilet business with Uncle Louie and move right in to the world of literature, complete with a summer house in the Hampton's and the New York Review Of Books creaming at my front door with glorious reviews of just how inspired this hot young, new writer is.
If only I had inspiration. So I don't have any. It's not the end of the world. Look at how much I got out of explaining to you just how little talented I am. That should be inspiration enough for you. What do you want from me anyway? The world? I cannot be both mother and father to you. The best I can do is to try to put you on the right path to become a successful writer. More than anything, even becoming one myself, I want to help the young today learn more about the art of writing, and then ignore it and try some of my ideas in order to make money. I don't want to see you cleaning out dime toilets for a living when you're fifty. So, take my advice; always keep a couple of feet ahead of the Lord. Because if he finds out what you've been reading, I think you'll be in trouble.