|Georgie, Porgie, puddin' pie. Kiss da girls and make 'em cry.|
This is totally off the record.
This is the part that hasn’t been mentioned yet. It’s about the one million words of crap.
They say all writers have to do it. And yet the world has changed. It has changed in a completely Orwellian fashion—at least in the minds of some.
That’s because old patterns of power and dominance are threatened and consequently less assured of profit-taking. In Orwell’s novel the farmer goes away and the dogs and the pigs take over, until they are thrown out of power by revolutionary forces symbolized by the alliance of all the other cute and cuddly little animals in the farmyard.
Once you’ve written your million words of crap, you get to do something very special thanks to the Brave New World of digital publishing, which includes self-published works, as well as that whole other world, of professional websites and magazines, many or most of which now take digital submissions.
You get to edit one million words of crap. You get to spell and grammar check one million words of crap.
You get to submit a million words of crap. You get to savour and enjoy the feeling of having a million words of crap rejected right back in your face. You get to re-submit one million words of crap and keep moving forwards until you complete your one million words of crap.
Trust me, ladies and gentlemen, I know what I’m talking about. I’ve been there and I’ve done that.
The only difference between the old and the new is that I made my million words of crap count.
What they’re also not telling you is this: it’s a hell of a lot of fun.
Writing a million words of crap is just plain, good-old fashioned fun. Don’t let anyone discourage you. And don’t let them guys hog all the fun.
Shoulder someone aside, as many as you have to, and get in there and have some fun.
Yes, you get to proofread, over and over again, one million words of crap. You get to pare, and polish, and revise, one million words of crap. You get to figure out where all the chapters and scene breaks go in one million words of crap. You get to figure out chapter titles, create names and planets and people and towns that never existed and never will exist.
You get the power to create one million words of crap. That power grows in the practice, and you will need that for later, when you’re not writing so much crap anymore, so you must promise never to abuse that power, the power to write one million words of crap…
You get to write the stories, invent the characters, describe the settings and the actions which all go into the process of writing a million words of crap.
You get to decide what literary style, one million words of crap will be presented in. You get to decide in which type-face your million words of crap will be set, and you get to decide whether to go with U.S., U.K., or Canadian English to render your one million words of crap readable.
You will discover readers to actually read your one million words of crap. This may surprise you, but it’s true.
Writing one million words of crap will teach you a lot.
You get to format one million words of crap. You get to stick front and rear matter in one million words of crap. You get to write blurbs for one million words of crap, and talk about one million words of crap on Facebook and Twitter, and, oh, yeah, now you’re starting to get the idea.
It really is groovy, Baby.
You get to assign ISBN numbers and design marketing images for one million words of crap.
You get to publish one million words of crap, earn some small royalties on one million words of crap, and get good and bad reviews on your one million words of crap.
You get to write blog posts about how wonderful it is, having written one million words of crap.
You can feel proud of writing one million words of crap because writing one million words of crap is a rare achievement. Not everyone gets to write one million words of crap; for life is uncertain and some are just unlucky when it comes to the opportunity of writing one million words of crap.
You even get to take a little flak for that one million words of crap.
You get to decide if it’s worth doing, to get through that one million words of crap, so you can forget it, and get over it, and move on, to your next few million words worth of crap.
There are those who feel that writing one million words of crap is an important milestone in any writer’s career.
If this writer was the sort of guy to make suggestions, (which he isn’t) I might suggest a patch or a badge or a medal or something.
(Just a thought for the future, guys. – ed.)
The people who say it are mostly correct, as far as I know.
(It’s not like he actually cares, ladies and gentlemen. – ed.)
You have to write a million words of crap. That’s how things are done around here.
(I’m sure, somewhere out there on the internet(s) one million words of crap have or will soon be written on this somewhat arcane subject: the subject of one million words of crap. – ed.)
Their perspective is different. They grew up under a whole different ethos of publishing.
I think I got more out of my million words of crap than maybe some other people, because I did it all myself.
I didn’t get any real help with it. No one held my hand with this little thing, where we all have to write a million words of crap.
That’s what they said, right?
We all have to write a million words of crap.
(Except for that one individual; who won their first contest while they were still an unborn fetus, tapping it out in Morse on the wall of the abdomen so their mother, a pro stenographer, replete with pen and paper, could jot it down and submit it by Pony Express.)
Anyhow, I figure I earned my million words of crap.
I have earned the right to write one million words of crap.
(Ooh, a sense of entitlement. – ed.)
I did it the hard way. I worked at it. I put some effort into it, maybe even a little enthusiasm.
But I don’t want to harp on that.
I’m just going to sit here and bask in all the reflected glory from my one million words of crap.
The real point of this essay is very simple.
Your one million words of crap goes a lot farther now than it did just a few short years ago.
That is the real revolution here.
The Difference Between Fiction and Journalism
In journalism, you never have dialogue. You quote people, not always exactly. You put their words into the proper English and the style appropriate for your outlet.
You cut out a lot of stuff in the interest of brevity.
You don’t describe people. You might have a picture.
You don’t characterize people in the same sense that a fiction writer would.
Journalism is morally neutral, completely objective when it’s at its best.
“Lizzie Borden was convicted of homicide in the axe-killing of her mother in provincial court today…”
They never say she did it. They say she was charged with it, or convicted of it. One draws a conclusion and the other is merely reporting a fact.
The journalist doesn’t judge. He (or she. – ed.) merely reports, in as factual a manner as he (or she. – ed.) can.
The fiction writer is nothing if not a f***ing moralist.
Every scene, every action, every line of dialogue will go some way to showing character, which I think is a consequence of our actions.
Character may be defined as the result of a person’s lifetime of actions, experiences, perceptions, education, influences, and environment. Character bears on our moral choices.
I just made that up.
I even added something in later.
It’s not fiction and it’s not journalism. What it is in an opinion, and one very quickly formulated to boot.
More than anything, it’s incomplete.
It really doesn’t go far enough in tackling a difficult and fairly large subject, i.e., the subject of character.
Thanks for sticking around ladies and gentlemen, and in conclusion, I would say that writing a million words of crap is a character-building experience.
It certainly has been in my case.
Comments are always welcome on this blog.