We can be the writers we want to read. We aren’t sentenced to a lifetime of consuming; we can create. We can carve messages into the tree trunks and picnic tables that dot our landscape.
I really think you should start writing; yes, you. You right there. Start jotting down your deepest fears and anxieties, or reminisce about the greatest night of your life, or write a story where Regis Philbin kills a drifter just to see if he can get an erection. Hey, instead of writing your idea, maybe you’d rather make it into a song or a drawing or a movie or a stylish hat. Whatever you want – I chose writing because you don’t need cameras and guitars, or even pants or anything. Never underestimate something that can be done lying down.
Me, I started writing because I felt out of sync with the world. I spent so much time consuming entertainment (movies, music, books, TV shows, articles, popsicle stick jokes, infomercials, SEGA Genesis video game manuals, etc.), yet I contributed nothing of my own. It was like studying for a test I’d never take – what was this all for? Would I ever make any practical use out of it?
The answer is no — no, I would never make practical use out of my theories regarding the similar family dynamics between Full House’s Tanner family and the Wu-Tang Clan. That is inherently impractical. But writing about it was pretty fun and I felt like I had offered up something, however insignificant, to a world in which I had only ever been an observer. It was as if I had been in a lecture hall my whole life and I’d finally found a classroom where I could raise my hand and tell a really stupid joke.
Unfortunately, I’ve also written articles that I didn’t particularly love. I thought they were right for someone, even if they weren’t right for me. But by writing for a hypothetical audience – by trying to please people that I assumed didn’t appreciate the things I appreciate — I contributed only to the degradation of communication. Thankfully, there have also been encouraging times when I’ve produced something I was proud of and had it met warmly (and by warmly, I mean only half of the commenters called me an asshole). Times when I realized there was someone out there on the other end, intercepting my notes from the abyss.
The distinction between worthwhile and worthless writing has nothing to do with subject matter. Of course, not everything needs to be lofty, intellectual, or earnest: it can (and sometimes should) be silly, outrageous, or sly.
We can write funny stuff about penises, getting drunk, embarrassing ourselves, Facebook, Tyler Perry, and, especially, penises. We can write tone poems on penises, lists about penises, and intricate penis prose. Ladies and gentlemen, I assure you, we can write about penises. And vaginas!
But, personally, I tend to write about penises. If I wrote about vaginas, it would probably have to be a mystery story.
But, make sure it’s the kind of penis writing you can really get behind (or in front of or astride or whatever) – the kind of penis writing you’re proud to put your name on.
So submit something. Take that idea that’s been bouncing around your skull for years, that weird fixation or obsession that you think no one else could possibly find interesting or amusing, and write about it. Then don’t get discouraged when you get rejected. Rewrite it and submit it to ten other places.
Write the thing you’ve been waiting all this time for someone else to write. No one else has written it yet, and no one else ever will – because you’re the only one who can. The amazing part is, if you can capture whatever makes you so fascinated by it, you won’t be the only one who wants to read it.
BUY PENIS, A COLLECTION OF ESSAYS HERE.