What a Miserable, Mother-Swiving Profession

“What a miserable, mother-swiving profession it is…”

“. . . to be a writer.” Christopher Marlowe

I’d rather be pussy grabbed by Trump than re-publish a book of mine ever again. Flipka, my first book, has had four editors over the stretch of four years.  As a result, I’ve been hornswoggled into a flummoxed higgledy-piggledy, lolly-gagging pusillanimous puke.  It’s not the editors’ fault.  They just didn’t agree with each other which always puts the writer on a ride down the Iron Maiden.

Coincidentally I’ve also been watching the miniseries “Will” which focuses on the so-called “lost years” of William Shakespeare, in this case, the years during which he made a name for himself in London.  Since not much is known about those years, the writers took a few liberties based on events of the day. The first season focused on the dangers he would have faced in London because he was Catholic in a society dominated by blood-thirsty Protestants. This is not something I remember coming up when studying Shakespeare in college but perhaps it did and age has dulled my mind.  I do remember endless discussions about his sexuality which brings me to that other great playwright of the time: Christopher Marlowe.

In this series, Marlowe is the “writer,” agonizing over the meaning of life and the futility of it all, whereas Shakespeare just wants to make a buck to support his family.  He’s the story teller.  I know people who consider it a personal effrontery to be called a story teller. They are “writers.” Their work does not rely on a plot or characters but journeys to the soul of the reader through the divinity of their prose.  Well, that’s cool. But few people can actually do that and I’m not one of them.

Anyway, if I wanted to spend my days intellectualizing over a process no one really understands, I would have made my father a very happy man and gone on to graduate school.  So, my question for you all is, are you a story-teller or a miserable mother-swiving writer?

By the way, I’ve been reposting a lot of “cuttings” from Duke Miller’s soon to be re-released (hopefully) Living and Dying with Dogs, Turbo Edition.  In his over twenty years traveling the world working with refugees he’s seen things most of us only run into in sweaty nightmares of the Apocalypse. It’s a remarkable report from the wreckage of Planet Earth: the Human Edition.  Quite timely.

28 thoughts on “What a Miserable, Mother-Swiving Profession

  1. Storytellers offer humanity its only hope. I believe this with every fiber of my being. Jan, you’re an authentic storyteller, which makes you Wonder Woman in my book.

    Regarding FLIPKA, I don’t know much about its editing history, but the version I read a while back was extremely well written, funny, interesting, and entertaining. The decision to repub or not is a personal one, but I vote for FLIPKA.

    And yes, long live Duke. And storytellers everywhere.

  2. I hope that at least some people consider me to be a storyteller. Otherwise, I’ve wasted a lot of time. “blood-thirsty Protestants…?” Wow, I had no idea I’m descended from savages. Almost makes me feel better about myself 😉

    • I consider myself a story-teller too. I’m just writing down stories I’ve told orally for many many years. I think the writers of Will took a lot of liberties however there was a lot of religious turmoil at that time – thanks mostly to Henry the Eighth!

  3. I took entire courses on Shakespeare, and I don’t recall his religion as being a particular focus. I’d have to say I’m a writer. I tell stories from time to time, but mostly I just write. I’d like to be a better story teller, but my brain isn’t arranged that way.

  4. Well, you storytold this post as if you were a writer, that’s for sure. Just look at that first sentence, for instance. I don’t like classifications and classes. I just know I’m obviously neither, or – when I’m up – a very lazy both.

    • Thank you MMM. I don’t like classifications either. I didn’t go to graduate school because I hated the old writer versus storyteller debate. If it’s entertaining or interesting or informative it’s literature whether it has a plot or not.

  5. You are a brilliant, honest, intelligent story teller. If you write something and think it is good enough for publishing, so it is then. Whatever the editors say.

    Some say Shakespeare didn’t exist. Who can be sure about anything that took place 400 years ago 😉

  6. I think Shakespeare wrote to please the queen. A lot of his (or Bacon’s. Or Marlowe’s) halfbaked wisdoms have evolved into gems of genius. (I’m jealous). You can tell a story brilliantly Jan. The reasons those editors had differing opinions is that they have split personalities. Mickey Spillane was right by the way. Your first line sells your book and your last line sells your next book.

    So, inspired by Spillane, I’m going to start my new book with the line:

    The rain was coming down like shit the night I sliced off Donald Trump’s balls.

    Suggestions for the last line may be sent to Colm Herron, c/o Pennsylvania penitentiary.

    • I could never top that first line but how about this last one: I prayed for absolution and the Virgin Mary gave me a blow job.

      Okay – we’re both going to Hell…..

  7. I’m a storyteller in my family, my ancestors stories (love stories) intrigued me so I shared them in my second part of my first years of writing a blog. I liked that I also collected co-workers stories, strangers shared theirs and some friend’s love stories.
    I think I can write good thesis papers and was rather impressed with my GRE scores. My brain is stimulated by reading.
    I would like to come back and find out when I am not heading to sleep, where your book may have some chapter or excerpt (here?)
    Take it easy, Jan. I like “Will” also was addicted to “The Sinner.” I’m a big Sherlock (Benedict Cumberbatch) and Elementary (Jonny Lee Miller) fan.

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