One Last Word
To the Summer Writing Group:
You have a long slow slog to go before any of you can call yourselves a writer.
Writer is not a vote for how popular you are. Or how many people love you.
Or how many followers you have. Writing is not the sacred path to happiness.
Writing is blood. It demands blood. It gets blood.
Frankly, I’ve been reading your work all summer, and most of it is bullshit.
He said. She said. You said. I said. We said. Your work reads like a second grader’s clinging to the skeleton of it. You cling to the bones of the lizard, but you fail to understand why the lizard is dead. The reason you need to cling to the rules is because you have nothing original to say. Stop boring me. I will never do another class like this one. Teaching these classes is a waste of my energy. Our time together has ended. What I have learned from the experience is that I will never attempt to teach a writing class ever again. Spare me, God.
Writing is not a class you take to scope some poor fool out, and then steal his tricks.
Writing is not my approval or anyone’s approval.
Writing is you do it anyway — without anyone’s approval. Writing does not exist for you to be validated.
It is not a goal.
It’s in everything you breathe.
It’s in everything you see.
It’s in every dance you ever danced, every fuck you ever fucked.
Writing is not a classroom.
Real writing has no rules.
The rules all of you impose upon yourselves comes from ideas in education that are over two hundred years old.
A thousand real writers have proved with their lives that the rules are irrelevant.
Throw them away.
And now you’re naked.
It’s a start, but that is all it is.
Allow me to piss on your dreams. The job of the writer is to allow the writing to squeeze the sweat and juice from his writer’s guts.
If you are compelled to ask the question — should I become a writer — then, you are no fucking writer.
Because writers know.
It’s not something they have much of a choice in.
Stop sending me emails to read your work.
Send me hash instead. I could use the hash. Writing is a ball of putrid emptiness.
There will be nothing in it for any of you.
Here’s the bottom line.
No one is going to publish you. Not now. Not ever.
It doesn’t matter what you write.
I understand that in school, they are teaching you to do something you will never do. You will never be a writer. You don’t have the teeth for it.
They will not publish you. Period. They’re not interested in what you have to say. They are only interested in where you come from. Writing has always been the province of the literate class.
It’s about where you went to school. Wrap it up and tie it with a ribbon.
It’s about who you hang with even if you hang with no one. The writer as loner is a dangerous thing and they all know it.
It’s not about you.
It’s about status. It’s about tribe. It’s about affiliation. It’s about the mix they have made of you. We rarely make ourselves. It’s about who your people are. Identity politics is not writing. Identity politics is about how you didn’t get what you had come to expect was yours to get. It will fade. There are no reparations that can make it better. Anything grounded in injustice will only surrender to time. Time speaks to surrender, and time knows that in the end — it’s indifference that we settle for. Always. People want to point fingers at leadership, but it’s society that is indifferent, and we are society.
Publishing lives and breathes this stuff. Mostly, it’s just a business that employs people who wanted to be writers but they didn’t have the strength to slug it out. They were never really writers, and now they’re just cogs in the big machine. These people grieve over lost ambition, but this gives them permissions to walk over anyone they feel like walking over. Publishing is mean, but writing doesn’t have to be. Writing is a mystery. Admit it: the last thing you wrote wasn’t what you expected when you began the work. Because nothing you write is what you thought it might look like when you are finished.
Writing is never finished.
I’m not talking about the septic sewer system called mainstream publishing. Writing is bigger than they are, and mostly, they’re just simply afraid. They don’t have much money anyway.
I don’t know who writing is for. I have never met them. I don’t care about who any writing is for. It bores the fuck out of me.
No one will ever publish you, but that does not by fiat mean you should stop writing.
Maybe someone somewhere will give a fucking shit, but don’t count on it. Writing is your blood in cups.
Put it to your lips.