The night is dark and full of pompous pricks

So I don't really know what it is, but evidently there's something about my face that just begs people to tell me how to live my life. It's baffling, and if I knew what was causing this phenomenon you'd bet your ass I'd have it tweezed or sanded down or lopped right off because seriously. Or maybe it's not my face so much as it is my career choice, as the topic always ends up being my aspirations to get published and almost nothing else. Now I'm no stranger to people disdaining my goal. Plenty of people have felt the need to give me "reality checks," as if all I needed to snap out of this tomfoolery was their two-cent degree from the School of Hard Knocks and Also Blowhards. Well joke's on them! That's not even an accredited university! Other common reactions include condescending attempts to "humor" me, and blank expressions followed by a pointed silence, as though to say, "Yeah, okay, and?" Why it's actually anyone's business has always been the part that confused me most, or why any of these jackaroo's are so invested in my future that they go out of their way to try and save me from the precipice of poor life choices I am clearly Leap Frogging next to.

However, the tale I have to tell you is slightly different. It was a totally new experience for me. Rather than scoff at my dream, for once someone else took it seriously. So seriously, in fact, they felt inclined to tell me all the ways I am doing it wrong. Let me set the scene:

On one Sunday night this past January, my roommate and I were down at a German pub near where we live. It’s a nice sort of place; interesting d├ęcor, stained-glass windows and weird figurines hidden away in shadowy nooks. We fancy sitting at the bar rather than the tables. There just happened to be a gentleman at the bar as well that night. He was youngish and already well into his cups, having reached that plateau of drunkenness where it seems insightful and alluring to stare bleary-eyed at people, rather than just super creepy. 



I hear ladies find uncontrollable drooling attractive. Is it working?


So after doing my damndest to ignore staring-droopy-eyed-guy for the better part of twenty minutes, he decided to open up a conversation with us. It started off banal enough, and despite a questionable taste in music he seemed inoffensive. Until I dropped the word "hipster." Which prompted a long-winded dissertation on the ineffectiveness of such a term and how it has lost all definitive meaning in the cultural zeitgeist and blah blah blah, but his stupid argument wasn't the point. There is only one kind of person who nit-picks semantics with strangers in a bar: an Asshole, in particular the species Pedantic Douche-Face. Pedantic Douche-Face proceeded to pontificate on the necessity of a graduate school education while in the next breath venting how much his own program makes him miserable and all a Masters degree really proves is that you can read and focus real good, and how it’s otherwise pointless for someone going into the humanities. But never mind that; my friend and I were obviously wasting our lives by not being as miserable as he was.

This was all annoying, sure, but being young comes with certain burdens, one of which is anyone even five years older than you assuming you know nothing Jon Snow!* It careened 
head on into unbearable when I made the miscalculation of telling Pedantic Douche-Face that I’m a writer, and that I am working on getting published. Well, whaddaya know? This asshole happened to know everything there ever was to know about that, too. He was a treasure trove of information I didn't want and never asked for, but he was going to impart some goddamn wisdom goddammit because I was clearly far astray and already messing this entire enterprise up with literally every move I've made thus far.  Here he'd found this lost lamb alone in the dark, frigid wilderness and he was going to save me.

Alright. Okay. Fine. Let's forget the part where I have planned to be an author since the 6th grade. Let's set aside the fact that I have already done extensive research into getting published and am working on a plan of attack, as slow moving as it may be. Let's overlook the reality that I have been writing stories since I was old enough to recognize the concept of a narrative (in this case, 7). Blank slate, yeah? We're all on the same page? Fantastic.  I don't care if you're a frustrated writer who never managed to do anything with your passion and are projecting your insecurities on me. I don't care if you've read Stephen King’s On Writing and are now a goddamn authority on everything publishing. And I absolutely don't give one dusty crap how many hours a day Mr. King was able to write, or how many pages, or how much he edited his stuff. That’s amazing for him, really. He obviously met with some success. I. Don't. Care. How. Other. Authors. Did. It. We are not the same person, we are not writing the same stories, it is not the same economy or literary landscape or even generation as when Mr. King started writing. I'm not so arrogant I wouldn't listen to a successful author’s advice, and I’m not saying I already have all the answers. I don’t. Most of the time I have no clue what I'm even doing. Listening to another author's list of Do's and Don't's is like any other thing in your life: take it with a grain of salt. Yeah, they've been where I am, they know how it goes, they did this that and the other thing and now presto! They're a success. Awesome.

But there is no guarantee that doing exactly what all these other people tell me to do is going to end in my success, especially when so many successful authors have contradicting approaches to their own work and even how they define "success." I'm sorry if the fact that I don't have 4-6 hours a day devoted solely to writing makes you think I'm unfit to do this, but I work 8.5 hours a day and I would sort of like to eat and sleep at some point. I'm sorry if you think my inclination to edit my work instead of just "going for it" seems stifling and perfectionist to you. What does "go for it" even mean? Do you mean I should just send my book out to publishing houses as it is? Okay, fine, but I don't even have chapter breaks in, like, half of it and it is rife with typos still and in no way resembles a manuscript but hey, I don't wanna be a square! But be sure you're on hand to explain it to me when every publisher from here to Shangri-La throws my book on a fire and douses the embers in Courvoisier while chortling through their walrus mustaches.

There is a lot of thought and preparation and diligence that goes into this endeavor, okay? I'm not some delusional waif with my pie-in-the-sky dreams that I fully suspect to be realized when I wake up tomorrow. Much though that would be awesome, it isn't happening. And maybe I'm slower and perhaps not as diligent as I could be, but I have a full time job and student loan debts and a desire to feed myself occasionally. My life is sort of busy. I am doing this the best way I know how. I write when I get the chance, or if I feel inspired. I edit when I can force myself to give a crap about that. I tinker and twist and reshape and start over and keep working out this ridiculous project until I get it right for me; until I can look at it and say, "Yes. This is the book I wanted to write, this is the story I wanted to tell and I can be proud of this." At which point I'll send it off to editors who will likely tear it to pieces if they even look at it to begin with. But that's a totally different hurdle to jump, and I'll get there when I get there. This isn't always easy, and I don't always love being a writer. It is tedious and hard work and many times feels like an Sisyphean slog to Nowheresville. Pretty obnoxious, to be truthful. But it's not like I have a choice. This is what I am, this is what I do, and it doesn't matter how I feel or what anyone else thinks about it. I will continue to do this regardless.


It's small wonder Pedantic Douche-Face was drinking (alone) at a bar (alone) before attending a movie (alone). Go fall down a dry well, dingleberry. I've got my own life covered.  


*Secret Game of Thrones Refernce


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