Tags

, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

WIN_20160226_15_35_36_Pro

I’ve never been that successful with nailing a good hooker.  I promise you that isn’t what you think it means, and if you keep reading there will be an explanation.

I interrupted Maya Angelou for this and now I feel shitty.  It’s now been two years doing this and I promised myself that I would do a yearly exercise in metacognition.  If the reader doesn’t know what that is, fucking Google it…okay sorry for being a dick.  Metacognition is “thinking about thinking.”  This idea is best expressed in the sentiment by Socrates that “the unexamined life is not worth living.”  Socrates was a snarky fucker until the day he drank the hemlock, and while I have been reading and listening to works by existentialists who argue that endless thought is bad for the soul, it’s not a bad idea to stop what you’re doing and really consider what you’re doing.David_-_The_Death_of_Socrates

When I published the article about Fareed Zakaria’s book The Post-American World, WordPress informed me that I had finally hit 200 Posts.  Posts not essays, there’s a difference.  This made me feel like I had actually accomplished something, but there’s a problem with that.  I haven’t earned a penny from all of the writing I’ve done for this blog, and while it did get me the chance to write the for The North American Society For the Study of Romanticism’s Graduate Student Blog, it hasn’t translated over into any actual pay.  The reader may object, does that really matter, it’s just a blog, but it does matter.  I’m not a utilitarian by any means, I do believe in selfless action and the importance of aesthetics towards living a fulfilled life, but at the same time I am a corrupt cynic who tends to live by the philosophy best expressed by Joker:

JokerMHBTAS

Joker:  Well that was fun, who’s up for Chinese?

Sorry wrong Joker.

if-you-re-good-at-something-never-do-it-for-free-111

Joker:  If you’re good at something, never do it for free.

Hence my conflict.  Being a writer, or at least being able to call yourself a writer without being an ass about it comes from actually publishing something (which in all fairness I actually have done), and preferably being paid for it(which hasn’t happened yet).  If a man told me he was a chicken I would laugh at him.  Probably not to his face, most likely behind his back or else in that alley where my boys Monkey and Skinney Pete sell PCP to inner city Nuns (I blame the schools).  However, if this man told me that he wore a chicken suit and attended movie premieres and concert performances alongside beautiful women who paid him $800 an hour I wouldn’t be so quick to laugh.  In fact I’d probably ask if there were any openings available.  This is an absurd example to prove my conflict.writers-write

I think I’m a writer.  I’ve published one poem, and another is set to be published by the end of this year, and I write lots of essays for this blog.  I think I’m a writer, but I don’t get paid for this, so what exactly has all of this effort, work, and lonely hours hunched over my keyboard really brought me?  What have I actually done, or, more importantly, am I really doing myself a service by continually writing?

I honestly don’t have a good answer to this question.  I really don’t.  Metacognition can lead an individual to questions like this that often seem like dead-end statements or realities, but upon a break, and further reflection, the walls eventually open up and a new path becomes clear, or else you say fuck it and blow up the damn wall.  I’m partial to the latter but that’s only because I watched The Muppet Show growing up and Crazy Harry was a bad influence.Crazy_Harry

Looking at this identity problem of being a writer I look back to the person who made me want to become a writer in the first place.  Before my regular reader sighs and gets ready for Christopher Hitchens, it was actually Stephen King.

When I was a sophomore in High School my teacher Lugene Tucker encouraged me to watch a film called Pulp Fiction, she assigned Ray Bradbury’s The Illustrated Man, we read MacBeth and King Lear, and between classes one day KingTypewriterphpshe reached behind her desk and handed me her water stained copy of The Green Mile.  This memory has become slightly polluted by nostalgia, but I do remember opening up the book, reading the first line, and then disappearing into the story.  Over the next few weeks I’d devour The Green Mile before moving onto Cujo, The Shining, Pet Cemetery, Carrie, Duma Key, and then eventually his book On Writing.

It was The Green Mile that made me recognize that I really wanted to become a writer, because before reading that book I honestly hadn’t come across a book that made me really want to read.  I enjoyed books for class, I loved smelling the glue that held them together, and I did enjoy the narratives, but something had always been lacking.  Reading was just part of school, but no one had ever successfully pitched to me how relevant reading could be to my individual being.  Reading The Green Mile, there was something about the way the characters acted, the way they spoke, the story was different, and every line King wrote was so unlike anything I read in class.  It might also be that because the novel used words like fuck, shit, damn, piss, and bastard freely my teenage boy brain thought “YES!” but I do think the writing itself made the first real appeal.  Whatever the cause, the result was that I began reading insatiably, and writing every chance that I could.

Much of it was crap and remained so until…

WIN_20160420_00_41_56_Pro

I’ll get back to you on that.  Those early years of writing taught me however that everybody copies off of other people, and also that I had no idea what I was doing.

A book like On Writing was an invaluable gem because it taught the most important, and probably only worthwhile lesson I have ever read or heard from another writer:

If you want to be a writer, you must do two things above all others: read a lot and write a lot.  There’s no way around these two things that I’m aware of, no shortcut.  (145).

I remember attending the Alpha Chi fraternity convention in Chicago around a year ago, and the final night was a massive dinner to award the scholarships and then listen to the invited speaker.  I don’t remember her name, the title of any of her books, or what she stephen-king-on-writing-d1d225f2c6e25fcd45dce87de1f77d4d6e695e5factually said.  I just remember that she had dreadlocks that reached down to her kneecaps.  After her reading she gave her life story and then opened up for a Q/A and everyone there asked the same shit: where do you get your ideas, what made you want to become a writer, how do you go about getting published, what would you recommend to young writers, and blah blah blah fuckity blah.  It was all a farce, and as she waxed philosophic about how she lived in stories, and ideas come from everywhere what frustrated me more and more was the simple idea, the simple reality I had already learned from Stephen King.

If you want to be a writer, read every day and write every day.  Also make sure you have great hookers.

Being an avid fan of Stephen King (though my regular reading of his work has been lessened as of late) I buy most of his books in hardback, and one of the tomes on my shelf is called Secret Windows: Essays and Fiction on the Craft of Writing.  The reader, unless they’re Stephen King’s Gay Stalker*, is probably unfamiliar with this book and I was myself until I found it in the Stephen-King2King section at the Half Priced Book Store where I find most of the books currently in my library.  The book is everything the title promises, minus the specification about what makes the windows secret, and while I was looking over the table of contents I was struck by the title of an essay called Great Hookers I Have Known.  It starts off with a small anecdotal story about him answering a question his son Joe, Joe Hill the writer of Horns, Lock and Key, and Heart Shaped Box, asked him:

When I finally understood what my thirteen-year-old son was talking about, I told him no problem, I could find him a couple of good hookers easy—maybe even a couple of great ones.  (373).

While some would express horror, I could only laugh because I could honestly imagine my father, the seasoned Rugby player who taught me the Limerick about the man from Nantucket when I was only six, saying something similar to me.  This passage is important though because it sets up an important concept in writing while at the same time illustrating the effectiveness of the very mechanism it’s going to describe and explain, namely, hookers.

King explains what a hooker is:

In other words, Joe’s attracted to that same pulp fiction that attracted his old man, and his old man’s father.sk

That’s why I used that word when he asked his question.  He’d asked about opening lines, and pulp-magazine editors used the slang term “hooker” to describe such lines.  The editors knew pretty well who the audience was.  Truckers.  Short-order cooks.  Steelworkers.  Farmhands.  Working guys, in other words, who wanted to get away from the gray lives they lived and experience more exciting ones—lives that were bright with color and adventure.  If you were good enough to cut it, that readership would support you and the magazine would continue to publish you.  But if what you wrote started off flat, the readers would quickly flip past you to the next story.  When a two-hundred-page mag could be had for a dime, you could afford the pleasure of instant gratification.

Hence, hookers.  (375).

This, like the previous quote from On Writing, was an eye opener for me, not because it was the first time I recognized this, but instead because I recognized a fundamental part of my own craft.  Every writing project I began had to have a hooker, because I knew enough about the reading habits of average people to know that they’re insatiable when it comes to writing.  Every reader, whether they admit it or not, is looking for an excuse to put a book, essay, short story, poem, etc down and pick something else up.  Part of the reason I come home from book stores with piles rather than one or two works is because of this very same problem.  I start, I read, I stop, I pick something else up, rinse-repeat ad absurdum.  This being the case the writer’s job is to capture the reader’s attention, and then hold it.typewriter

Looking over some of the essays over the past year, every first sentence has been an attempt at a hooker.  Looking at each one seems like a good exercise, if only because it will get me back to metacognition:

Jason Walker needs no introduction, but this essay is different from the usual articles that appear on this site.

Moby Dick is a penis, that’s the joke.

It’s fair to say that I’m a nerd of epic proportions because I would honestly rather sit in my house reading The Declaration of Independence on the Fourth of July than I would being outside shooting off fireworks.

I’m part of a generation raised with porn.

If you look under the “About” Section of White Tower Musings, and the rather pompous “About” section is rather long, you’ll find an email address I created hoping that someone besides me would be interested in actually writing for my site.

Pixar has become in many ways an abusive boyfriend.

Bugs Bunny and Mickey Mouse on the same screen will never happen again.

I’ve become an old man in the last two years.

I’m so fucking tired.

Whenever people talk about the hypothetical of going “back in time” it’s usually so that they can kill (or not kill) Hitler.

A few years back I took a trip hosted by the art department at UT Tyler to the Rachofsky House.

I like Miley Cyrus.53044ed5e4cda

There really are few films that can be called truly great both subjectively as well as objectively.

A friend of mine recently asked, why are you so interested in all that Queer stuff?

I know this is cheap bait I do honestly wonder whether cicadas masturbate during those 17 years they’re underground.

Poe was many things, but critic is not the first word that comes to mind.

I want to say it was Stephen Fry who argued that John Keats might have gone on to become the next William Shakespeare had he lived a bit longer, though it may have in fact have been Christopher Hitchens.

I recognized Bruce the moment I picked the book off the shelf, even though I had never met him before in my life.

Alfred Hitchcock was afraid of eggs.

“Don’t re-nig 2012.”  Imagine reading that.

One of my co-workers, who sees far more in me that I do, asked honestly “Jim-Jam,” that’s what she calls me, “Is there any book you don’t love?”Joshua Smith

I watched the Pound the Alarm music video because of Nicki Minaj’s breasts.

It has only been three months into the year and already my reading list, the Microsoft Excel spreadsheet where I record everything and anything I read, is already past 1700 entries.

For the record I know several lesbians who don’t own or wear comfortable shoes. 

I think that’s enough…okay, one more, but only because it’s the hooker of the most popular essay I’ve written thus far:

We’ll get to big black dicks in a moment but first I wanted to ask you, the reader, a couple of questions.

Looking over this list, I realize that I have little to no luck with hookers.  Phrasing.  Wait does that work?  Doesn’t matter.  This essay, like the one that appeared a year ago on this day, was about reevaluation and metacognition.  I spend a great many hours locked in my office writing and reading books for quotes, and finding images that are funny or quirky or perfect, and for my efforts I’ve received only praise by my friends and family who tend to be the most avid readers of this site.  While praise is lovely, it doesn’t hold back the wanting and moral crisis that appears from time to time.

Then again, recently a woman left me this and my reaction reveals everything:

Kristin

Two years in, and while I have no financial or utilitarian proof that this site hasn’t been a colossal waste of time, I have the little moments like this.  When a friend tells me he loves my “letter from a young atheist” series, or a teacher shares one of my articles with their students, or my aunt tells me she used my Ayn Rand essay in her graduate dystopian course for a presentation, or somebody from out of the blue asks if she can write an essay for the blog.  These are the moments that matter the most, because they’re what actually keeps me writing.  It’s nice to hear my mother tell me she liked my essay about Jenna Jameson, or Dad make a joke and suggest lines for an essay about Hemingway, or a friend tell me that they absolutely adored the one about T.S. Eliot.

A writer is a writer if he or she writes every day, and after two years of writing for this site, and at least a decade actually writing for the sake of actually writing, I might not have mastered the fine art of hooking, but I know I’ve acquired consistent readers and a little hole in the world where people and come and give a shit, even if it’s just to hear about a porn star biography or black cocks.

The writer writes, and another essay leaves the White Tower…that sounds ungodly pompous but there are worse ways to end essays I suppose.

Thanks for reading.  I really appreciate it.

WIN_20160624_15_50_17_Pro

 

 

 

*Writer’s Note*

For the record it’s me.  I’m the gay stalker.  One day we shall one Stephen.  One day…

 

**Writer’s Note**

I’m not actually gay for Stephen King, I’m really not.  I’m more of a Chadwick Boseman sort of guy.635979730501348212-SP-27131-R

Or Aldis Hodge he’s hot too.tumblr_no067rxl401rsrnw0o1_540

 

***Writer’s FINAL Note***

If I have any shred of integrity left, I just want to make sure the reader has one last chance to read the lesson I’ve come to embrace.  I may not be the best role model, writer wise, but I still think that everything about being a writer is contained in these two sentences:

If you want to be a writer, you must do two things above all others: read a lot and write a lot.  There’s no way around these two things that I’m aware of, no shortcut.  (145).

Advertisements