With fingers poised to strike down upon the keyboard and stars in their eyes, throngs of individuals set sail into the tumultuous waters of writing every single day. Some are drawn by the allure of social status and fortune. Others are captivated by the accolades and awards there for the taking. While more still are intoxicated by the remote possibility of fame and attention they so desperately crave from a childhood devoid of love.
Luckily for the public at large, Bread Crumbs from the Void is here to obliterate such trite and moronic motivations from the literary landscape. If you even remotely fall into any of the deluded fucking schools of thought above, allow me to disabuse you of such foolhardy notions now.
The only, and I do mean only, reason you should even be considering putting pen to page is to unload your entrails for the entire world to see. If any other motive exists you have already failed. Any other incentive compelling you to the written word aside from baring the beautifully tragic gamut of the human emotion is erroneous at best. At worst you are one of innumerable maggots feasting on the rotting corpse of a once thriving and inventive art form.
Do not expect writing to be the magical pixie dust which carts your woefully inept ass off to Neverland! Know from the get-go that this life is fraught with loneliness, derision, and rejection. If you still believe you are interested in taking a crack at the brass ring, here are some frigid truths you will need to face.
Writing is by no means the road to making a living, let alone the laughable whim that you will be showered in diamonds or million dollar deals. The fact of the matter is that the majority of scribblers never make a dime from their work. The unilateral dismissal of a particular manuscript, poetry collection, unauthorized biography of Larry Flynt, etc. does not always necessarily equate to the product being a flaming pile of shit. Typically it does, but sometimes even the best writers may go unnoticed.
This can be due to a veritable cornucopia of factors beyond their control including:
To reiterate, the vast majority of writers hunting and pecking their way towards a dashed dream are not overlooked. They are simply fucking god-awful. Anyone who gets the itch and can string a few pronouns together formulating a somewhat comprehensible sentence excavates some rambling work from their ass believing they are writing a masterpiece.
In the event you believe you have written a work of staggering brilliance please accept my invitation to fuck off and choke to death. The world, and the internet at large, already teems with too many wannabes spouting ad naseum about their unrecognized genius. Envisioning one more pathetic stooge incapable of determining the wretched from the sublime sends a shudder up my sack. Despite all of the warning signs to the contrary these pertinacious reprobates continue to concoct insipid rants due to an unfounded desire to acquire mansions, sports cars, a bevy of beautiful men or women, etc. Their better judgment and taste is marred by superficial desires.
Money should categorically never be your calling to write.
The decision to embark on a career in writing is precisely the opposite of the decadent escapades you may have read about from F. Scott Fitzgerald. The life of a writer — aspiring or established — is one of solitude and endless hours of exertion. Do not expect to while away your hours indulging in the bottle and participating in orgies. You will spend the majority of your waking hours in solitary confinement, hunched over a computer or legal pad, searching for the perfect synonym for “said”.
Your closest confidantes will be coffee, pants with an elastic waistband, and scores of books. Alcohol will beckon to you for an occasional cameo, unless of course you prefer an alternative fuel source like De Quincey or Baudelaire. When you summon the courage to stare indulgence and degradation in the face you may finally fill the blank page with something of value.
If you happen to be lucky enough to find a supportive and understanding better half as I have, you may even find yourself engaging in human interaction from time to time. To be fair, I am not intimating that you should never leave the confines of your writing cocoon. On the contrary, you need the release of a date night with the significant other or throwing a few libations back with your nearest and dearest. This can be especially useful during the creative droughts which plague all artists.
Once you are finished closing down the bar or engaging in much needed coupling it is time to return to the work. Life is absolutely not a cabaret, old chums. A writer’s life is even less so. This undertaking is toilsome with nary a divot in the work flow if you wish to achieve any sort of aptitude. 90% of your free time should be spent in isolation with your inscribed ruminations.
Any less devotion while honing your craft is unacceptable.
Writing cannot be taught.
Techniques can be imparted. Theories can be absorbed. Writing cannot be taught. It is also not a skill which materializes out of the blue. I do believe that some are born with a particular predisposition for evocative storytelling. Like the athletically or musically inclined, writing too is gifted from the cosmos as a ball of clay waiting to be molded, continually reshaped and reimagined. There is no curriculum or syllabus in the entire world which can prepare you for that roller coaster.
At times the lines will flow from your frontal lobe to your fingers in what seems to be an act of necromancy, delivering an entire chapter, short story, or poem from the beyond. More often than not you will experience the mental constipation that causes you to question your own existence. Not to mention fucking acid reflux.
I am not making the attempt to talk anyone who may be traipsing their way through this article to throw in the towel. If you can be discouraged that easily though you may seriously want to rethink your life goals. While you sulk, disastrous writers oozing out uninspired and agonizing pustules of phrases will be lapping you in their daily word count.
The expectation of many beginning writers is that the process will become a way to earn a living doing something they love, whilst simultaneously witnessing their tale developed for other media and raking in the dough. The reality is writing sucks most of the time and you will most likely die penniless unless you find outside gainful employment. Become a doctor. Or a janitor. Anything is more lucrative than chasing a career in writing.
Only those who truly love this art form will be bat-shit insane enough to stick with it. If this pertains to you, then good luck. You will need it.
If you would like to hear me elaborate a bit more on my own process, you can find links to a couple of interviews conducted recently with me on my website at: https://alexschumacherart.com/about/. Drop me a line from the contact page if you have any other questions, complaints, or declarations of lust.
Bread Crumbs from the Void will return in two weeks with another thrilling edition of hard-nosed reality for you big-talkers and wannabes. Until next time, keep scribbling you freaks.
Alex Schumacher has toiled away in the relative obscurity of minimum-wage jobs and underground comics longer than he cares to admit. Currently he produces the weekly feature Decades of (in)Experience for Antix Press, Bread Crumbs from the Void and The Fucking Funnies for Five 2 One Magazine, and Mr. Butterchips for Drunk Monkeys. Stalk him at http://alexschumacherart.com/.