Chuck Wendig on why he doesn't write guest posts

by Ksenia Anske


It's been a while since I've hosted a guest author. One of them was practically jumping out of his pants to guest post on my blog. I tortured him, of course, by making him wait. Well, here you go then. PLEASE WELCOME Chuck Wendig, a novelist, screenwriter, and game designer. He's the author of BLACKBIRDS, DOUBLE DEAD and DINOCALYPSE NOW, and is co-writer of the short film PANDEMIC, the feature film HiM, and the Emmy-nominated digital narrative COLLAPSUS. He lives in Pennsylvania with wife, taco terrier, and tiny human.

WHY I DON'T WRITE GUEST POSTS: A Guest Post By Chuck Wendig

I am routinely asked to contribute guest posts to people’s blogs, either in support of a novel or just to, I dunno, go and insert my digital DNA into someone else’s blog space. I don’t dislike guest blogs. I enjoy reading them and occasionally host them at my own blog, terribleminds.

Just the same, I generally don’t like doing them.

And so, I don’t do them.

Here, then, are the reasons why.

BECAUSE I HAVE MY OWN BLOG.

It’s true! I do! It’s got a web address and everything (ahem, cough cough, terribleminds-dot-com). I commit usually five thousand words of bloggery to my own blog every week. And it’s fairly well-trafficked, these days. Closing in on 4,000 subscribers, with another 10k of daily visitors coming in from Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, Myspace, Squareblock, OkCupid, Buddy-Town, Fisters Connection, Cyberknitters Union, and Oprah’s website. (No, really. I was linked there once.)

BECAUSE I’M SO TIRED.

I write about 5000 words per week on my own blog. And, as a full-time author, I write bare minimum 2000 words per day on talking to imaginary people – uhh, I mean, “writing my novels.” Plus: scripts and comics and the other kind of scripts where I steal a doctor’s pad and write myself prescriptions for drugs both real and invented. (“Hello, CVS? I need 40 milligrams of Putreskenol, and also a shitload of Vicodin. KAY THANKS BYE.”)

BECAUSE I’M GONNA SHIT UP YOUR BLOG WITH MY SHITTINESS.

I use bad language. It’s naughty up in my brain. And I’ll probably dump some of it in your blog space – like I have here, already – and smear it around like a toddler playing with his mashed potatoes.

BECAUSE I DON’T KNOW THAT IT DOES ANYTHING.

I know there’s a kind of expectation that authors have to do a certain kind of social media dance to sell books, but I don’t know that it works. I haven’t seen data that it does – it’s just sort of expected and accepted. And sometimes I feel like I’m dancing to make it rain in yet another unproven publishing ritual. Guest blogs are cool when it’s for people you like – less cool when it’s for a blog you’ve never heard of and they just want some free wind to fill their sails.

SIDENOTE: BLOG IS ONE OF THE WORST WORDS EVER

Blog. Bloooooog. Blaaaaaaahhhg. It’s a boggy, sloggy, sluggy word. I know it’s short for “web-log,” but that sounds so antiquated it’s damn near irrelevant. We need a new word. Somebody get to work on that. Oh, and don’t even get me started on “vlog.” That sounds like Dracula’s dipshit cousin. “I’m Vlog the Impala! I vant to suckle your toes!”

BECAUSE IT’S YOUR BLOG

I always feel a little weird at somebody else’s blog. It’s like I’m sleeping in their bedroom. Or worse, in their closet while they sleep. Which I’ve totally never done, by the way. *shoves stack of restraining orders under desk*

Point is, a blog is a great space for a writer to shine, and when I show up I feel like all I’m doing is dulling your darling gleam.

But mostly it’s because I’m busy. And lazy. “Blazy,” let’s call it.

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Write not to sell. WRITE TO FEEL.

by Ksenia Anske


Photo by Sara Haas

I keep reading these depressing articles on the Interwebs. The message in all of them goes like this:

The publishing industry is dying. It takes forever to publish your book traditionally and it takes even longer to break through the gatekeepers. Oh, you want to go indie? Well all indie books suck, because it's too easy to do them, because every idiot can write a book now and publish it and tell everyone: "Hey, I'm a published author!" By the way, we will all go to hell because now movies and games occupy people's time and nobody reads anymore. On, and on, and on.

I stopped reading everything about publishing because it sounds so depressing, I want to go hide in my closet, find a good rope, and hang myself. Now that would be a cool story, wouldn't it?

Anyway, yesterday I read one more article about publishing by Chuck Wendig, whom I admire and who said he might guest post on my blog sometimes in 2013. His post is called 25 Hard Truths About Writing And Publishing. I read and I thought, FUCK IT! I get it that everything sucks, publishing sucks, the world sucks, life sucks. But, hey, I'm not writing to get published!!! I'm writing because I love writing! Because when I write I get a high that's better than any drug, and it's fucking free! Yes, I'm broke. Yes, I can't travel or go see my mom in Russia because I have no money for airplane tickets. Yes, I have no clue what I'm doing, never having written a novel in my life before. SO WHAT? I'm happy. In those 4 hours every day that I allow myself to dive into writing (after typically battling 30 minutes of crying and anxiety because I've been brought up to believe that I don't deserve to be happy), I am as happy as a baby, as happy as a kitten lapping milk. I forget time, I forget to eat or drink or think or anything. The world stands still with abated breath, waiting. And I soar, I fly, I'm in my story and I don't care about anything else. I get goosebumps. I get to drive any car I want, ride any bike I want, I get to swim into the ocean pretending I'm a siren and I can breathe underwater. I get to kick asses of those people that hurt me in my life before, and I get to tell them everything I always wanted to tell them. I get to shout, to scream, to flip them a finger. And I get to experience love, such powerful love that it almost hurts, it feels so good. I get to LIVE double. Because I do also live life, you know, like I sleep and eat breakfast and use the bathroom and stuff. But I get to crank it up a notch and be superhuman. And I don't care that I'm a dork. When I write I'm a kid again, believing that anything is possible. That I can fly to the stars if I wanted to. I can die twenty times over and come back alive, if I wanted to. I can, I can...

All right, got carried away here a little. Emotional topic. Anyway, where were we. Ah. Money. Publishing. Selling books. Well, here is my story for you, just so you know I'm not breathing hot air here. I don't know what will happen, I don't know if I will get published. And, miraculously, right now, I DON'T CARE. All I care about is to finish my story, have it done, and then see if it's worth people's reading time. If not, fuck it. I have another one already planned out. My second one will be better. My third one will be even better. Now, here is a little problem. I quit my career to write, I sold my car, I reduced my living style to where I can survive on $25,000 a year. That means cooking at home, never going out, not being able to travel (I try to bike everywhere, because I can't afford a gym membership). So what? I can go places in my head, and they make me happy. I've decided, as soon as my savings run out, I might go take up a gardening job, because my next book is about a pre-teen girl who comes to a family reunion and discovers that her grandpa, famous gardener and grower of roses, kills people and grinds them into rose meal. The girl has a pet, black whippet called Panther, who helps her sniff it out. The story will have magic in it, of course. But my thought is, I can go learn everything there is to learn about gardening and then use it in my book, hopefully having enough money for 9 months to live on (that's how long it's taking for me to write Siren Suicides, so I assume it's about right). Yes, I'm crazy. But you know what? I'm not going back to the office, that's like liquid slow death. Forget it.

I got carried away again. What I really wanted to say was, write not to sell. WRITE TO FEEL.

When my boyfriend coaxed me into posting an excerpt from my novel draft here, I was scared out of my mind. And then I was blown away by the response. You can do it too. Please. Life is too short to doubt yourself. If nothing else stays in your mind after reading this (and thank you for putting up with my rambling), do this:

WRITE FOR YOURSELF. Write for your own therapy, to feel better. That's all that matters. I actually didn't believe it myself until I saw Chuck Palahniuk on one of his book tours, and he said the same thing. So, go do it!

WRITE TO FEEL GOOD. Spill all of your weirdnesses and hopes and dreams and pains onto paper. Paper won't judge. Paper won't tell you that you suck. Paper will take it all. And only after it's on paper, you can feel empty and free to go do the next thing. Perhaps, write the next story?

WRITE TO BE. A miraculous thing occurs when you truly write for yourself and write to feel good. Suddenly you start seeing all the shit that you're being made of! Everything! At first it's ugly and terrible, but what happens with time and with writing more, is that you come to accept yourself and become content with everything.

There, what are you waiting for? Drop everything. Go. Go write a beautiful piece. It will be beautiful, because YOU are beautiful, no matter what everyone says. So, stop staring at these stupid letters here and go write me a Pulitzer :) 

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