A lot of people will tell you that to be successful as a writer, that you should always "Write What You Know." Depending on which writers you talk to, this idea is either lifechangingly brilliant, or pure, unadulterated, greeting card bullshit. I guess I'd say I stand somewhere in the middle.
I will admit that in the beginning, I tried to "write what I knew", but it didn't take me long to realize that I didn't know much about anything anyone cared about. No worries though; I just decided to modify the phrasing slightly so it would apply to me, and then used that as my writing mantra.
So: "Write What You Know" became "Write a few worthwhile paragraphs on a random topic like before becoming bored and simply cluttering-up the remainder of the article with irrelevant rants, tiring nonsequitors, and run on sentences so long that a lot of the time upon reaching the end you'll be lost entirely and yet too indifferent to care".
All-in-all, I'd say things worked out pretty well so far. Oh, and also, on a semi-related related note: Below this intro you'll find an article in which I good-naturedly complain about oddly specific things which annoy me.
If you could find the time to look through it for me, I'd really be much obliged.
1. THE PHRASE "YOU BETCHA"I live in the Midwestern US, so I hear this all the time. From what I've been able to gather, it's supposed to be a happy-go-lucky hickish way of saying "you bet". So OK, fine. Whatever. It's pointless and hokey. That's not what bothers me. What bothers me is that as a replacement for "you bet", it makes no logical sense whatsoever.
Separate it out: You Betcha = You Bet You? Huh? You bet you? That doesn't even mean anything! It's common knowledge that "betcha" is an unofficial contraction of “bet you" (as in "betcha can't do this), so it would appear that "You Betcha" should mean "You Bet You".The only problem with that is, "You Bet You" doesn't mean a goddamn thing. It's nonsense. Is someone being commanded to wager their own life in a game of chance ("You... Bet You!"), or are they simply being insistently encouraged to place a bet on something? ("You! Bet! You!). It's impossible to say for sure.
The only other thing I could think of is that it's supposed to mean "You Bet Your" as in like, "You bet your sweet ass I will!" except nobody uses it that way. And even if they did, it seems to me that "You betcher" would be a far more appropriate made-up contraction, as it ends with an "R", which makes it sound far more folksy.
Anyway, if you happen to be one of the many people who say "you betcha", at least promise me you'll think over my proposal. Food for thought, you know?
2. WHEN PEOPLE SAY "SMILE!"
You know what? I was feeling a little depressed, but astoundingly enough, it just so happens that the thing which cheers me up most is being ordered to make various facial expressions by complete strangers who are apparently unable to mind their own goddamn business.
So I think what I'm trying to say here is: Thank you for brightening my day, you magnificent, smug, presumptuous bastard. Thank you!
3. USING DRUNKENNESS AS AN EXCUSE FOR BAD BEHAVIORI hate to break it to all you alkies out there, but "Sorry, I was really drunk" is never a valid excuse for anything. Alcohol is not a mysterious mind-control serum. It is common knowledge that overzealous alcohol consumption tends to "set free" primordial urges your sober brain is normally able to repress.
So if, when you drink heavily, you find yourself unable to avoid partaking in decidedly antisocial activities (sleeping with random strangers, telling people you know what you really think of them, or masturbating on the moving walkway at Underwater World again), it's probably a good idea for you to stay away from alcohol.
When it down to it, saying: "I cheated on my girlfriend, but in my defense, I was extremely drunk at the time" is really no different from saying "Sorry I forgot to pick you up at the airport, but in my defense, I dropped of acid this morning" or "Sure, I bludgeoned my son to death with a flat-iron before spending several hours sawing his head off with a soupcan lid, ripped out a bunch of my own teeth with some pliers, and leapt through our 14th story window while releasing my bowels and screaming that I was Christ Reborn, but in my defense, I was on PCP at the time."
So go ahead, get hammered. Get wasted. But when you do, don't expect your friends to forgive you for shitting all over their coffee table and attempting to jerk off their nonexistent basset hound just because you had "a few too many". It's really no excuse.
4. PEOPLE WHO SAY "COUNCIL" INSTEAD OF CONSOLENo, it isn't a videogame "council", it's not a center "council", it's a console. Console! Conn-Soul. Like that. No "U" Sound. Get it? Console.
Honestly, it's really not that difficult to understand.
5. BEING REQUIRED TO TUCK IN MY SHIRT
As a lifelong sufferer of "male with disproportionately large gut" syndrome, I have always resented occupations or social functions in which shirt-tucking is made mandatory. I realize there might be some pretty good reasons for the tuck rule, but as you can see from the above image, the consequences of mandatory, "across-the-board" tucking can be dire.
Consider this: Behind the shielding drape of an untucked shirt, the grotesque bulge of a pot-bellied man's abdomen is nearly impossible to perceive. But if, on the other hand, this very same man is forced to tuck, a large, undulating cliff of blubber will suddenly be mushed out in front of him due to the tightening of the belt and the raising of the waistline which must accompany a properly tucked shirt. I, for one, fail to see how this look is preferable to an untucked shirt.
And anyway, if you buy the right shirts, an untuck can easily look as nice as a tuck (if not better). Just look at this:
See what I mean? It looks perfectly fine. So how about it, society? Can we finally do away with the shirt tucking rule? Let me know what you decide.
6. PEOPLE WHO SAY "SAME SHIT, DIFFERENT DAY" EVERY DAYDear These People:
Your own actions are contributing to the very same "daily same-shit-happening-ness" which you are constantly vocalizing your opposition to.
So cut it out.
Everyone In The Universe
7. WHEN I WRITE MYSELF A NOTE AND LATER I CAN'T UNDERSTAND WHY I WROTE ITWhenever I want to make sure I remember something important, or an interesting idea pops into my head, I like to write it down right away so I don't forget it. The problem is that a lot of the time I just crumple these notes up and leave them in my pocket for about a week, so by the time I find them again, I can't even understand what they mean or why I wrote them.
And I don't mean due to poor penmanship (pensmanship?) either, they're perfectly legible. I literally mean that I cannot comprehend the meaning of the words I wrote, let alone why I would've deemed them important enough to save.
Look, here: I've got a bunch of them on my desk here, I'll transcribe a few of the notes word-for-word, honest to god (these are 100% real), and you see if you can decipher them:
- Call about deadbeat --- also check out that japanese pill image
- A death, there are mourners around. I want to play xbox but feel it would be disrespectful
- Is sex with a fish beastiality [sic]? what about a shrimp? Whats the lowest form of life that could be considered beastiality [sic]? for example certainly nobody would argue that rubbing mussels [sic] or kelp on one's genitals to achieve orgasm was beastiality [sic]. whats the cutoff?
- Ask about UNSAFE CARS [underlined]
- Totally not trying to be offensive: whats the etituette [sic] if person in wheelchair starts a fight with you?
- Brides [bribes?] for small town sheriffs
See what I mean? Those are real! It's like the ravings of an insane person. And those are just the ones that use complete sentences. There're plenty more where I've just written a single word or phrase like "organic bullshit", "pinball?" or "vaporize". I really don't get it.
8. AMERICANS WHO COMPLAIN ABOUT FOREIGNERS NOT BEING ABLE TO SPEAK ENGLISHEnglish is kind of a shitty language. It's illogical, needlessly complex, and extremely difficult to learn.
That's why it troubles me when some terrified family flees to the US to avoid getting their collective faces blown off in some brutal childsoldier gangbang rape war, only to be greeted by a bunch of semiliterate, morbidly obese, chain-smoking hillfolk in filthy baseball caps who work themselves into a rages over the fact that some guy from another country asked them a question their shrivelled, hayseed brains had a hard time understanding.
I think what I'm saying here is: Learning english may be hard, but at least it gives secretly racist white people an excuse to get angry at someone brown.
9. THE PHRASE "MAN CAVE"I shouldn't even have to say anything about this one. How does it even still exist? It's embarrassing. It really is. You men should be ashamed of yourselves; allowing an idiotic phrase like that to be attributed to our sex. Do you hear me? Fucking ashamed!
10. WHEN PEOPLE EXPECT A "THANK YOU"I'll just be blunt: If you expect a "thank you" in return for good deeds you perform, you are a selfish person. What, helping someone out isn't enough for you? You require verbal praise? A vocal affirmation of how fantastic and selfless you are? Sounds pretty selfish to me.
Tell me though, are you familiar with the saying "a good deed is its own reward?" Maybe you are, and maybe you aren't, but in any case, I've broken down the concept for you in the chart below:
ACTION TAKEN REWARD CITIZEN A Citizen B's battery is dead. Citizen A assists by giving their car a jump start. Good feelings from having helped another human being. CITIZEN B Asking for assistance. The ability to drive home.
See how that works out? The whole thing is perfectly balanced. Citizen A receives a temporarily happiness boost from helping someone in need, and Citizen B receives a car which now functions. Provided that Citizen A is a mentally stable, well-rounded person [who does not expect meaningless platitudes in exchange for every act of kindness], everybody wins.
And sure, while "everybody winning" might sound like the prize of a lifetime, let us not forget that every lifetime, no matter how much winning or failing to win is accomplished in that lifetime, ends in death's sweet embrace.
Or something like that, I guess.
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