A number of people commenting on a pun-based Facebook meme have reportedly died after viewing it. Unfortunately, the count is set to increase, with other commenters announcing that they too are ‘dying’. The current status of one fifteen-year-old girl who ‘just can’t’ is still unknown.
A compilation of writing tips
Show, don’t tell
In other words: don’t be too waffly, but also don’t leave out any important details, but don’t give too many details, but don’t confuse the reader by being vague, but be concise, while also descriptive, and use figurative language, but avoid clichés. It’s just that simple. Show the reader what’s going on, but don’t you dare try to fucking tell them. If you can’t get that right, you don’t deserve to be a writer. Get out of my class.
Set up a routine
How much do you sleep? Whatever you just said is too fucking much. If you’re asleep, you’re not writing. STAY AWAKE. Purchase stimulants in bulk, and if you get the jitters, find a balance using slow-me-downs like gin. Hemingway drank gin. Be like Hemingway. Your routine should involve staying awake. I’ll know if you sleep. Stay awake.
Write what you know
Your friends and family members are all perfect sources of data. Record every interaction that you have, especially those that contain the other person’s innermost thoughts and desires. Who cares if she kicks you out after reading your short story, ‘Put the pen down or I’m kicking you out’. Get a new wife. New kids. Those ones were a bit shit anyway, weren’t they? Always coming home with grubby hands. And the inane questions they’d ask! ‘Daddy, what’s for dinner?’ ‘Daddy, can we get pizza?’ ‘Daddy, why don’t you go to work any more?’ ‘Daddy, why is your mouth foaming?’ ENOUGH ALREADY.
Find your ‘writing zone’
I often have to improvise with this one, as certain uniformed pests enjoy relocating me from my usual writing zone, which is under the bench in the park. On such occasions, I have grown accustomed to boarding a sequence of trains (i.e., ‘commuting’) and simply writing there. You know Harry Potter was written on a train, right? Well. Look how that turned out. You think you’re better than J.K. Rowling? Fuck off.
Look around you and take in what’s going on. I like listening in on the conversations between other train-goers as they whisper references to ‘that bug-eyed man who’s talking to himself and shedding scraps of paper’. Incorporating some of those everyday snippets into your writing will make it all the more realistic.
Get to know your characters
…But don’t let them get to know you. You need to stay in control, especially with Mr. K. Boy, he’s got some strange ideas.
Set up a routine
I’ve said this one already Mr. M, you fucking idiot.
Persist. Perrrrrrr ssssssiiiiiiisssssttttt. Funny word.
P P P P P P P ersist.
Finn lay as still as he could. The tip of his nose tickled the webbing of the butterfly net.
It was the wings he liked to look at – not just because of their colours or patterns, but because of their slight, almost imperceptible movements. Back and forth, those wings would slowly, barely flap, always staying within the same minute stretch of air.
It was as if the thing was just waiting to be released – the insect equivalent of a tapping toe, maybe. Finn sensed a similar anticipation in the movement of the grass, and in the gentle breeze that pushed it.
Soon he’d need to go home, or the place they told him to call ‘home’, anyway. Back to the bunk beds and cold soup, where there never seemed to be quite enough space for him to fit.
For now though, while the light remained, he watched, and they waited.
A treacherous drop slid down the base of his neck, as he stared into the hairline of the girl who stood opposite. He didn’t have the strength to pull his gaze towards her eyes. Just to remain upright – unteetering, even – was enough.
They’d written their own vows. Her idea. Wasted on him, of course.
He willed himself to focus on her voice and extract some sort of meaning from the inarticulate buzz that filled the air around him.
‘I promise to stand by you, to fight every battle by your side, to give myself wholly to this partnership, and to bind myself to you through this life and the next.’
He glanced down at his hands. For just an instant, he saw the rope already tied around them.
I spotted her sitting by herself at a table outside the cafe. She looked just like the picture, although perhaps with a little more lipstick and a little less patience. I called out, which both drew her attention to me and drew my attention from the uneven ground.
It wasn’t a quick trip, where you stumble a bit, but ultimately end up vertical and a bit pink. No, the thing went on forever, and even as I flailed my arms and grabbed at nothingness, I had time to recognise the futility of my body’s reflexive response.
Around me, the restaurant patrons became increasingly interested. And diagonal. Interested and diagonal. What horrific life choices (they mused) had I made to end up here, as The Ridiculous Tripping Man?
I landed finally, having made some pretty grand decisions about the direction of my life’s course.
First step was to leave the area.
As in, constructing your own narratives as you stare at the rats living in spare, dusty rooms under rugs and old furniture. You’re not a proper (18)90s kid if you never watched Rugrats.
Like, fucking EVERYWHERE.
Discovery of the element Argon
I know, I know – this honestly feels like just yesterday. Feeling old yet?
Otherwise known as a girl’s best friend. You could be all, ‘banter, banter, banter’ with some Lord, all ‘yes, sir’, ‘no, sir’, just playing it real nice and low-key, and all the while your pie slice is quietly cooling, stashed up on high amongst the ribbons and curls. They might not admit it, but all (18)90s kids had contraband hidden on their persons at some point, and the bonnet was an A+ venue. (Always important to be on the lookout for bees, though.)
Because if you sneezed or nodded a bit too hard, that apple pie was liable to fall to the goddamn ground, and if Lord Withersby started snitching, you know Mrs. Pettigrew wouldn’t hesitate to come at you with a motherfucking rolling pin.
Thousands of layers of clothing
We all remember those Saturday mornings when mum would be like, ‘Mary, get down these stairs or we will straight up leave for the markets without you,’ and you’d be like ‘I WISH YOU WERE DEAD,’ because you’re still putting together layer four of seven and are yet to even contemplate how you’ll use a brooch the size of a star to pin that shit together. And then you’d feel bad because imminent death is a genuine possibility, given infection, etc.
Layers, right? The worst.
Or ‘vagina-hating symptoms’. The lack of power, forced dependence, and vacuum of societal respect in general was enough to sometimes make an (18)90s girl want to kick themselves in the crotch.
STICKS! REMEMBER THESE? Legit the most versatile toy. You could pick them up, throw them, collect them, prod things with them, and best of all, push a hoop down the street with them. I think my mum still has a few of mine stashed in the attic.
Popularisation of the name Fanny
WHAT WERE WE THINKING?! LOL.
Remember when rabbits had names, geese wore petticoats, and moles loved adventure? Weird fad.
Some more Qs have been asked of me and I’ve been very slow in getting around to A-ing them. Terribly sorry, Shannon Noel Brady – thank you for sending these my way and for your patience in dealing with slack nominees like myself. I feel honoured to have received a mention from such a skilled writer. I’m also quite happy that you’ve given me more fuel to add to my procrastinatory fire.
Here we go, then:
- What’s your earliest memory?
This may not be real, but I do have a memory of struggling to climb stairs as a very tiny person.
- What kind of hat best represents your personality? Any kind! Top hat, jester bells, a sombrero… (Even if you would never wear it in real life.)
WOW. I can honestly say I’ve never thought about this before. Good question. I’m going to go with a tin-foil hat, as I tend to attract crazy people and on hot days I can be shiny.
- What’s something that other people are fine with but totally bugs you?
I’ve been known to block people from Facebook (/life) for ‘your’ vs. ‘you’re’ errors. I think I’m getting better at dealing with it, but it’s still a pretty top-tier complaint. I also don’t like the cold. Or the hot. There’s like a two-degree window of comfort. Yeah, I’m the worst.
- Something that you’re fine with but totally bugs other people?
Pigeons. Fucking love pigeons. Watch a pigeon today and I promise you’ll feel happier.
- Favourite dessert?
Nutella, Nutella crepe, Nutella+anything.
- What’s the one sentimental item (not a living creature or practical object like a phone, etc) that you would grab from your burning house if you only had time to grab one thing?
Oh no, this is hard. I like all my things! I do have a signed Dylan Moran show programme somewhere in my closet (like, not to brag or anything). It would be worth approximately $0, but I was/am pretty obsessed with that guy and it was from my first ever stand-up show, so it’s a bit special I guess.
- Favourite animal when you were 6?
Dog. My first email address as a child was email@example.com. Cringe.
- Favourite pastime when you were 16?
Just being a twerp, I think. So much brooding.
- You’ve met a stranger. What’s something that would make you immediately like them if they started talking about it? (BESIDES books or writing, that’s too obvious!)
I bond quite well with people that listen to podcasts or have the same TV show tastes (e.g., 30 Rock [hi Shannon :)], Unbreakable, Nathan for You, Arrested Development, Sherlock, Black Books, Parks and Rec, Summer Heights High).
- What’s your computer wallpaper?
The default one😦
- Invent a superhero persona for yourself!
More of a terse command than a question, but I’ll allow it. ‘Captain Blue Eyes, the Hard-to-get-to-know’. She’d be a pirate with wings.
Captain B.E., out. x
I’ve just had something published on McSweeney’s Internet Tendency, which I’m very excited about because I love that website. The article’s called How To Be A Modern-Day Wife.
Here’s a bit:
Men in relationships tend to get a bit snippy when their partners don’t notice a new tie or haircut. Do try to keep a look out for these things, and if you like what you see, let him know! Something as simple as a well-timed “you smell nice” will remind him that he’s special.
It’s important that you keep track of the frequency with which you hand out compliments. I personally find an Excel spreadsheet is useful for this.
Read the whole thing here: http://www.mcsweeneys.net/articles/how-to-be-a-modern-day-wife
Morgan settled with the rest of her family on the surface of the cold, brick wall.
‘You alright, Morgs?’ said her father. ‘You seem tense.’
She ignored him and continued to stare gravely at the dormant bulb above.
It was almost time.
All day, she had watched the shadows of trees extending their bent fingers and creeping towards one another with ceaseless, silent movements, until eventually they bled together and drenched the world in a dark purple.
‘Remember what I told you,’ said Morgan without shifting her gaze. ‘Don’t go near it.’
‘Eh? Near what?’
They never remembered.
Morgan turned to face her father, but even as she opened her mouth in reply, the colour of the world was changing. She felt the warmth on her wings as the sky above cracked in two.
‘Don’t go near it. We can’t do this again. Not again. Not every damn night.’
Her father hovered, his eyes glistening.
‘It’s… It’s heaven. How could it be anything but heaven? Your mother is giving us a glimpse into the otherworld.’
Morgan shut her eyes. The light was not her mother; it was her mother’s murderer.
She looked up to plead with her father, but he and her two brothers were now hovering out of earshot. The bulb beyond them flickered with the silhouettes of their three flapping bodies.
There it was.
It really was like magic though, pulsing away as it did with an energy that hinted at some invisible, impossible power.
Morgan watched it, transfixed. She flew just a little nearer.
The innards of the burning marble twisted and turned slowly, as if composed of some thick glue. Maybe it was an invitation from her mother, after all. Something that beautiful could never cause pain, could it?
Morgan soon forgot her fear of the light. In fact, she forgot that anything but the light existed. Only with the dawn of a new day did she realise the shallowness of its promise.
The others would go on with their lives, quickly forgetting the loss if indeed they noticed it at all.
But Morgan would remember. For a while, anyway.
I won’t flatter myself with an apology for not posting in a little bit; it’s pretty likely I’m the only one that’s noticed. (Why do some people introduce posts with, ‘Sorry for not posting in a while!’? It honestly baffles me. No one minds – it’s really fine.)
Anywho, since the old creative juices (sorry, I hate that phrase too) aren’t flowing right now, it seems like the perfect time to instead answer a few questions asked of me by Nick, who nominated me for something called the Sunshine Blogger Award. Nick (or fiftywordsdaily) is a brilliant writer of hilarious/poignant/jealousy-of-skill-inducing stories. Go to him.
The guidelines state that I’m to answer his list of eleven questions, and then to nominate up to eleven other bloggers and ask them eleven other questions. (What’s the obsession with eleven? We will never know.)
Call me a rebel, or call me an awkward fool, or call me a rebellious, awkward fool, but I am terrified of the nomination bit of all this. I think instead that I’m just going to tell you all that I love everyone that I follow, and probably many more that I don’t, and in particular, I find myself frequently reading the blogs of Nik Eveleigh, Shawn Cowling, Craig Towsley, Richard M. Ankers, and the aforementioned fiftywordsdaily (if that is his real name. Actually it’s definitely not. I’ve already said that it’s Nick.)
Is that cheating? To accept a nomination and then not really nominate anyone else? Look, based on the name alone, I can’t imagine that anyone from the Sunshine Blogger Award Guild will sue, so as long as you can forgive any faux pas that I might be committing, I’m going to plough on.
- What single piece of advice would you give to your eighteen year old self?
No, you actually don’t know everything. Shush.
- If you didn’t live in your current country of abode, where you most like to live?
Appalling grammar, Nicholas. I haven’t edited that because you need to learn from your mistakes. Tsk.
I like the idea of London, but only when the weather is either very hot or very cold. None of that mildly cold, drizzly shit. The Italian coastline would also do in a pinch.
- What has been your most extravagant purchase?
Well I bought a house, which was quite expensive. I don’t know if it counts as extravagant though. I have lately been paying the extra 50c for Zymil milk when I buy coffee. I’m usually pretty frugal so that’s been a bit of an exciting change.
- What is the best movie of all time?
Back to the Future(s).
- Have you ever said I hate you and not meant it?
I don’t think I’ve ever meant it. I quite like people generally, although they can get a bit much sometimes.
- Whale or dolphin?
Whale if it’s cooked; dolphin if raw.
- What is your favourite first or last line from a book or poem?
I don’t really have one that I remember off-hand. That one from Pride and Prejudice is quite nice.
- How many languages can you speak? Could you teach me how to say ‘you have intriguing ears’ in non-English please?
Again, I don’t have an interesting answer to this. I don’t know any other languages apart from English. I taught myself Italian from a CD-ROM one time and all I remember is ‘io parlo poco Italiano’ (or ‘I speak small Italian’). I don’t even think that’s right.
I’m also trying to work out the back story for why you’d need to know how to say that phrase in a range of languages. Is there a miscellaneous foreigner to whom you need to deliver that message? I hope it’s not urgent, as I’ve not been very helpful.
- Why is Donald Trump doing so well?
Because of his sound views on race and gender.
No but for real, I have no idea. Aliens fucking with us?
- Should the UK stay in the European Union? (I can’t decide so I thought I’d ask some learned people for their views. But I couldn’t find any so I’m trying you lot……)
Based on my extremely expert opinion, sure. Why cut ties with the people that brought us croissants and windmills?
- And most importantly and maturely of all – what is your favourite colour? (Mine is green, which is proven to be the best colour by a country mile)
Yellow, I think, but I’m also open to some shades of blue.
Cheers again, Nick!