The Brave Little Blogger: A Fairy Tale for Writers

Hashtag

There once was a brave little blogger with a deadline looming over her head. While she should have been toiling away, weaving her next work of online genius, she was procrastinating. The words she was supposed to be stringing together refused to be tamed, and they swarmed around her heads like flies, buzzing and mocking. Trying to write in earnest (and failing to do so) was doing little for her ego, so she decided to turn her attention to something more mundane, something she knew she could actually accomplish.

Her junk mail folder was bulging and despite the fact that junk mail doesn’t really do much except sit there, she felt compelled to empty the folder. That was something, right?  Ugh. No, it was pathetic, but what the heck. She joked to herself about how adept she was at clearing out junk mail. She was the best darned junk mail clearer-outer ever. She could clear seven bits of junk mail with one click. Now that was amusing…so amusing that she decided to tweet about it, facetiously, of course.

#Seveninoneclick

Those who aren’t trying desperately to procrastinate have the presence of mind to know that stupid stuff like this goes viral all the time. People make all kinds of stupid assumptions about it too. One of those people was her editor, who assumed she meant she’d fired off seven posts in one click. Okay, he didn’t think she’d done it quite that quickly and efficiently, but he did take it to mean that he wasn’t giving her enough to do. So he sent her seven more posts to do…for the end of the following day.

At first, the brave little blogger was mortified. There was no way. Wasn’t gonna happen. But then she slapped herself around a little and reminded herself that this was the 21st Century, and that if you didn’t want anyone online to know that you were a fraud, then there were ways to keep up the charade. It was expected. Seven lattes later, the posts were done and sent out into the universe. Editor appeased, readers fed, happily ever after.

The big problem with going above and beyond is that it soon stops being a novelty and starts being a default setting. Seven blog posts became multiples of seven. Sure, the brave little blogger delivered every one on time, but quality quickly gave way to quantity. Instead of witty observations about life, the universe and everything, her readers were left with mindless banter about low carb diets and the latest celebrity to have a wardrobe malfunction. Sure, she still had a readership- correction, even more of a readership than before, but seven times the posts clearly did not mean she was seven times the wordsmith. She was exhausted. She was bloated and breaking out from all the lattes. She was completely uninspired.

The blogger came clean online. For a week or two, people enjoyed unliking and unfollowing her, leaving trollish comments about her being a negligent snob, but it didn’t matter. Her brain worked best when it wasn’t swatting at seven things at a time, and when she wasn’t humblebragging about things she couldn’t do. First, she’d finish her novel. Then she’d write a collection of poetry. If she wasn’t all wrung out by then, maybe a book for kids, or maybe, just maybe…a how-to manual about avoiding dangerous hashtags.

The Storymaker and the Elves: A Fairy Tale for Proofreaders

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Once upon a time, there was a humble writer. He was an honest lover of words and ideas, and had toiled for years in service of the muse, struggling to create clever turns of phrases, and hopefully turn a profit. All of this toil brought eye strain, carpal tunnel syndrome, and a profound addiction to caffeine, but alas, it did not allow the writer to make a living at his craft. No matter how many submissions he sent out, he couldn’t get the powers that be to notice his talent.

One night, beleaguered and fresh out of good ideas, he decided to give up, hang up his quill, empty his ink pot and quit this wordsmithing thing. Maybe he’d teach English oversees, get a job in telemarketing, or join the ranks of the retail army. With a sigh, he turned out the lights and went to bed, his latest sloppy magnum opus splayed out over the top of his desk, dotted with angry ink in particularly trying sections.

The next morning, the writer awoke to find that same manuscript arranged neatly, his pen and ink looking alert and ready to work again. It wasn’t like theives to tidy up after breaking in, he thought as he tiptoed over for a closer look. Smartly etched into the pages were tiny correction marks, written by tiny hands. Some indicated overlooked grammar errors, some pointed to missing words, and some even made suggestions for improvements in style and organization. Feeling sheepish, but grateful, the writer set about making the changes, and when he had a new, clean copy ready, he marched it down the street to the local publisher.

The book was an instant success, and within weeks, the writer had enough money to last him the rest of the year. Bolstered by this, the writer hauled out another tattered manuscript, one that he’d abandoned to the mice years ago, and left it on the desk overnight.  To make it look extra pathetic, he rumpled the pages around and tossed a few on the floor.  Sure enough, the next morning, it stood corrected in the same fine handwriting, with the same insightful comments. Like the first manuscript, it proved to be a favourite of those in town.

Out came the rest of the writer’s past failures.  Each appeared in significantly better condition the next morning, and soon after, each became another notch in the writer’s literary belt.  When he’d cornered the fiction market in his region, he decided it was time to find out which benevolent force had helped him receive such acclaim.

Hiding in the pantry one night, he saw a group of tiny elves hunched over the pages of his latest disaster. Although they were making quick work of his corrections, they clearly weren’t happy about being there.  Their mussed hair, flushed cheeks and relentless cursing made it evident.

Feeling guilty, the writer vowed to repay them for their kindness. In anticipation of their next visit, he left a selection of miniature writing implements, a basket of mini muffins, and a small bottle of home brew. He smiled as he fell asleep, thinking he had shown true gratitude.

Evidently wee folk don’t appreciate empty carbs, and they can’t handle hooch. The writer awoke to find his manuscript befouled in unspeakable ways. The elves had left a note that was almost incomprehensible, but still managed to convey a healthy number of expletives and something about him being a rotten bastard for not sharing royalties. The wee pens and pencils he had selected for them were jabbed into the wood of the pantry door inside what looked like a crude drawing of him.

The writer may not have had a critical eye for his own work, but he could take a hint. He stopped leaving out work to be corrected. Figuring he could live quite comfortably from his previous work, he stopped writing entirely and retired somewhere in the dessert, where there probably weren’t elves.

 

The Red Typewriter: A Fairy Tale for Authors

typewriter

Once upon a time, not so long ago, there was an honest, hardworking, humble young woman.  She had a decent job, enough to eat, and a clean place to live.  Her life was pleasant, but not all that exciting.

One day, while perusing the contents of a local garage sale, she came across an old typewriter.  It was a little dusty, but when cleaned off, it revealed itself to be a gleaming shade of scarlet, and it hardly showed any sign of wear.  The young woman fell in love with the feel of its keys beneath her fingers, the click it made when she pressed them, and the mildly musty perfume it emitted.  Her mind conjured images of lazy Sunday afternoons spent spinning yarns, a symphony of audible letters and words filling her apartment, of endless cups of tea and cozy sweaters.  What could be more rewarding than time spent crafting stories?

Of course she took the damn thing home with her. Isn’t that always the way with shiny new things that conjure bohemian fantasies like this? At first, she just played with it, typing out snippets of ideas here and there, enjoying how they looked when splattered on paper.  One day while working, she became a little bored with it, the novelty having worn off just a little bit, but she couldn’t seem to pull her fingers off the keys.  For a moment, she panicked, feeling like she was physically stuck to the thing, like her fingers couldn’t stop punching away, even when she wasn’t sure what she wanted to type anymore.  A good yank pulled her fingers free.

She didn’t touch the typewriter for a few days, fearing that the next time she used it, she’d truly be trapped by it.  She poked her head into the room a few times, admiring the shiny redness of the typewriter, catching little whiffs of the ink. Even from afar, with the terror of being stuck to it still fresh in her mind, it was still enticing.  The feel of putting letters and words together, banging them into a coherent whole as she clicked away, was intoxicating.  She missed it, and her regular everyday life seemed to pale in comparison to it.  This really wasn’t good.

Eventually, she gave in to its siren song, poured herself a strong cup of tea, and went back to typing.  Part of her wasn’t even surprised when her hands really did get stuck to the keys, when she couldn’t seem to stop them from moving from letter to letter at a frantic pace.  She typed for hours, days even, until her knuckles swelled, her hair hung in matted clumps, and her eyes could hardly stay open.  She knew she was pitiful, but she couldn’t help it.  The words just kept coming and she just kept typing.

The universe, in its infinite wisdom, (sort of) took pity on the poor creature and sent a magical fairy godmother to help her escape the enchantment under which she was slaving away. “All will be well” the fairy godmother said “if you simply chop off your hands…and stay the hell away from that infernal thing.  Seriously, what were you thinking, bringing it into your house?”

The young woman looked up from the typewriter, and her hands continued their frantic two-step over the keyboard.  She mulled the idea over in her head.  She’d have stumps, but at least she could go back to her old, simple life.  She’d have a little peace.  She’d…she’d be leaving all those ideas stuck in her hands.  Unacceptable. She hunched back over the typewriter, grunted, and told the fairy godmother to piss off. She had a deadline.

The fairy godmother sighed, her wand drooping by her side.  This wasn’t the first time this had happened, and it wouldn’t be the last.  With the sound of clicking echoing in her ears as she left, she went home and fixed herself a good stiff drink.