writers

The Definitive Differences Between Real Writers and Fucking Fakes

Do: be depressed as fuck. Don't: accept edits.

by Issy Beech and Isabelle Hellyer
23 May 2017, 7:06am

Hi there, welcome. If I understand the internet, you've come here to do one of two things: a) sincerely hear what I have to say about writers and the characteristics and skills they possess; or b) read a select few sentences from the first two paragraphs of this piece before heading back to Facebook or Twitter where you found this very important article, where you're going to shit all over me and VICE and feel very good. If it's the second thing, carry on. You're only human. I get it.

If it's the first thing; however, let's get something straight: If you're even here reading this? You're already not a real writer. You're a fake. Sorry sweetie, but it's true. A real writer would never read an article like this. Want to know why? No, not because they don't read VICE. Wow, rude. It's because real writers are off writing. Like I am right now. Writers write. That's what we do. It's in our blood, our bones, and our Tinder bios. And we couldn't even stop writing if we wanted to. Which we don't. Because we love it. In fact, I won't read over this once I've finished it. Because I don't read. I write. Which, now that I think about it, is probably why there are so many spelling mistakes in Shakespeare's stuff.

Anyway. A few weeks back I was at a talk in an old ass building and this little pipsqueak wannabe writer came waddling up to me and interrupted me mid-bite into a beautiful, government-funded salmon crostini hors d'oeuvre and said: "Hey, genius!" (wasn't being sarcastic, actually considers me a genius ha ha very sweet) "What makes a writer a writer?" You wanna know what I said? I said, "Do you know if they're bringing out any more hors d'oeuvres, dickhead?" And do you know what he said? Nothing. He cried for a while. But it got me thinking: What does make a writer a writer? Is it just writing and slowly becoming less shit at it over time until someone is ready to pay you because that's how skills and careers work? Absolutely not. This isn't fucking golf. What makes a writer is a complex—but also decidedly black and white—list of dos and don'ts that must, at all times, be adhered to without fail.

DO: Be Depressed as FUCK

Why do we true writers put pen to papier? Good question (unsurprising, given it came from literally me). We do it to get this burning, burning pain out of our hearts. You're happy? You love your mommy and daddy? Well, sorry pal, but you've got zero legs to stand on in the literary game. Where are your ideas going to come from? "Positive" "life" "experiences"? That's one well that's gonna come up dry. Every. Single. Time. Writing is about pain. Only the most damaged, fucked up crazies can be great writers.

Ever even read Allen Ginsberg or Hunter S. Thompson? Ever seen one of those diaries in the window of a Typo?? With that quote on the front about "the crazy ones"?? Which is kind of a Steve Jobs quote but is actually just ad executives jacking swag from Kerouac, which you would know if you were a real writer. Well who gives a fuck who wrote it first, because it's true in essence: If you're not nuts, you'll never write anything interesting. You go to a therapist? Ha! Ha ha ha ha !! Very cute. How very Etsy of you. Unfortunately, the only place that's gonna do you any good is in every area of your life other than being a writer. Good luck with that!

DON'T: Drink Coffee

I'm sure you, a fake and a phoney, have some pretty little picture in your head of yourself sitting in a bay window, all cozied up with a chunky knitted blanket, MacBook Air on your lap, a hot cup of Joseph in your hand. That is, without a doubt, one of the most pathetic things I've ever heard. That might work well for, I don't know, a "blogger" making "actual money" from their "job" but that's got nothing to do with real ass writing. (And yes, sure, I see that I am writing for an online website right now, which might make an idiot think that I'm one of these bloggers but VICE is also a MAGAZINE which goes to PRINT and sometimes has my stuff inside it okay? Well it did once so I'm in fact NOT one of those keyboard junkies and honestly I don't even need to defend myself here so shut up!!!)

Writers and Coffee? That's myth. You think Hemingway drank cold brew? You think he woke up with an Aeropress? Nah! He drank straight moonshine, day in, day out, up and down the gay streets of Paree. And he wrote The Old Man and the Sea which, I'll admit, could have been a little punchier, but you get the point. Hindsight's 20/20 and you can't rewrite the greats. Literally. Penguin has explicitly told me over numerous emails that it's "both unethical and illegal." Whatever that even means.

DON'T: Accept Any Edits

Some people think writing is about writing words. I can tell you this right now: that is entirely false. Real writing—the type of writing that can change the world—it's not about pithy, feeble words. Words change. You think "LOL" existed in the 1920s? It sure as shit didn't. The literary community invented that one quite recently. As far as I'm concerned, words are a byproduct of what I do. Words? Sure, if you insist. I see the act of writing as me delivering my truth to you. You wanna know something about the truth? It's never wrong. That's why they call it the truth (etymology).

So if you're unlucky enough to get an editor—pencil pushing, pedantic middle managers who failed as writers themselves, if you ask me—asking you to make changes (my condolences) that you refuse (absolutely fair), right off the bat, tell 'em to shove it, glove it, and rub-a-dub-dub it. If you've done your job as an authentic writer, there will be nothing but truth on that page. And (feel free to quote me back to your editor here) you can't change the truth without telling a lie. All the most intellectually intelligent geniuses in history have known this. Ever heard that Jean-Luc Godard line "Every edit is a lie"? You've heard it now. Read it again. Read it one more time. Read it thrice over. Embody it. Crawl up inside it.

This is your home now. What rental crisis?

DO: Write Anywhere

I don't mean write while in bed, write while in the bathroom, write while at the office. That should be obvious, you can never stop writing. What I mean is write on your bed, all over your bathroom, and across your desk. Write on everything like Russell Crowe in A Beautiful Mind because he was genius and literally couldn't stop himself from turning his world into a canvas for content creation. Besides, trust me: if you're writing every single fucking second of the day like you should be, you're gonna run out of paper real quick.

Pal, buddy, hear this: Trees take a long ass time to grow, and if you stop creating for just one second, perhaps to run to Eckersley's and buy another Moleskine, guess what? There goes your big idea. There goes your best line. There goes your closing line. You're fucked now. You. Can. Never. Stop. Writing. Unless you get a dictaphone. Then you're allowed to stop writing because actually speaking into a dictaphone with your notes and memos is quite fucking cool and a very reliable method of documentation.

DON'T: Lead a Solitary Life

Are you familiar with a man by the name of F Scott Fitzgerald? That's right, he's the guy from Midnight in Paris. Generally, people think he's famous as shit because of a novella (technical term for "short book") called The Great Gatsby. Now, that book is fantastic, but so are a lot of books—and they didn't propel their writers to global stardom. Nah. You wanna how Scotty Fitzgerald really got his big break?

The guy partied hard as fuck! He was a real party legend, man! He threw crazy parties. Crazy. He would drink and dance and do whatever the fuck he wanted and his GF was cool as shit (a bit unruly perhaps but cool as shit still). Literally everyone in Paris knew him. Here's what I'm getting at: a good book isn't gonna sell itself. You've also gotta be famous and popular. Obviously.

DO: Drink Whiskey. Straight. Even if You Hate it and it Hurts Your Throat

Don't be a whiney little bitch. Every writer ever has been a whiskey drinker. Don't even bother googling that because I'm telling you and it's literally so correct it's ridiculous.

DON'T: Ever Say Thank You. To Anybody

Has anyone ever helped you in your writing career? Even with something simple, like an introduction to right person, or a quick proof read? Be honest. Did you just say "yes"? Idiot. Wrong. Wrong fucking answer. I shouldn't even have to tell you this but never, ever, ever, attribute any of your craft—not even the tiniest morsel—to anyone else. Or else it's not yours anymore, is it? All of a sudden, you don't look like an independent, free thinking visionary, who can express all those ephemeral things civilians all too often fail to put into words.

You wanna know what you look like? You look like a community charity chase: one of those vegetable gardens people plant on their nature strips to try and engage their neighbours in "wholesome" "activities." Do you want to look like a community vegetable garden? No. They're absolutely stupid and they never work. They all inevitably end up as empty planters filled with dust and ash and Golden Gaytime wrappers. Want to know why? Because all people are hideous monsters.

All people, when a certain level of pissed, will saunter past one of those planters and yank out the entire fucking tomato plant and them and all their friends will find it side-splittingly funny before forgetting about it forever. That's people for you. Get over it. You know what else? Writers are even bigger assholes than everyone else. You want to be an asshole. Those are your words, motherfucker, and it doesn't matter who 'read' them along the way. You wrote them. They're yours. GOD DAMN IT I FEEL SO ALIIIIIVE!!!