Ansley Asher

writing thoughts

Archive for humor

Is the Slushpile on Its Way Out?

From Jean Hannah Edelstein’s blog at The Guardian comes a post which outlines HarperCollins’ possible new plan to eliminate their slushpile. They’re betaing a website called Authonomy where writers can submit up to 10,000 words of their unsolicited submissions to be judged by peers. The assumption then is that, should enough people like your work, an editor at HarperCollins will look at it, according to SMP:

“HarperCollins say that Authonomy will be entirely democratic, and allow anyone to participate; either as an author, or as a reader.  They also guarantee that the most popular manuscripts (as voted by the Authonomy community) will be considered for publication.  HarperCollins also anticipates industry professionals looking for new talent to make up a ‘fair chunk’ of the readers.”

I want to be optimistic about this, but honestly it seems like a way to get writers to do HarperCollins’ work–i.e, going through the slushpile–for free. Maybe they look at it as a way for new authors to review each other’s work in order to improve, but do they really believe industry professions will join? I can’t imagine agents and editors signing up to read MORE raw submissions than their own slushpiles offer.

What I Learned from Walt Disney’s Wienie

I don’t want to spoil the surprise, but I might have to explain myself if this link:Hear 2.0: “It doesnt have a Wienie” ever goes bad! For a hint, it goes hand-in-hand with the World of Warcraft mantra of “concentrated coolness”–the importance of making a few things really awesome instead of spreading yourself thin.

Who knows? You might learn something from Walt Disney’s wienie, too!

Writing Exercise 3 – Ten Word Short Story

Penny Arcade (link warning: naughty words) devised a really cute contest (that I missed, unfortunately) by asking readers to send in a 10 word story about World of Warcraft. It’s a variant of the famous 6 word story by Hemingway: “For sale: baby shoes, never worn.” Personally, I liked some of the runners up best, but it’s subjective. My favorite, though, is probably the Saurfang entry.

If I had to sum up the entire game in ten words, I’d probably do it like this: To rise, fight, and die again–we of Azeroth, immortal.

Here’s my homage to Hemingway: For sale: Feet of the Lynx with enchant, never worn.

Now you try. It doesn’t have to be about Warcraft, of course. Choose any topic that inspires you and write your ten word story. Share if you like!

That Spark of Life

How many times have you sat down to work when suffering from writer’s block and berated yourself by saying, “Why should I bother? I have nothing new to say. And there are already a million other books/blogs/short stories/etc. on the same subject.” Well, I wouldn’t sell yourself so short, my friend. Here’s why.

The odds of anyone coming up with the exact same words in the exact same order as you are a bajillion to one. Although experts say 87% of statistics are made up on the spot–and mine are no exception! All joking aside, unless you are parroting something you heard before (as I just did with that ancient statistics joke,) the way you choose to express yourself is uniquely your own. That has value. I never grew up in the Ozarks. I never went fishing with my cousin Sam. But the things I DID are the things that no one else did in the exact same way, and never will again. No one else will be living in the time I’m living in, doing the things I’m doing, and writing about them the way I am writing about them. So it is with you, and everyone.

I’ve read (anonymous) comments on blogs that say things like, “Women have no unique perspective. Old people have no unique perspective. Eskimos have no unique perspective.” You can reduce this very weak “argument” to: People different than me have no unique perspective. Say it aloud. Do you hear how absurd this sounds? The simple truth is, if you say what YOU have to say–and not simply copy what you have heard–you are adding your voice to the Great Conversation that humans take part in every day. This only augments our culture, not diminishes from it. Think about the talented people you love who write about the same topics. Take humor, for example–how many people write daily life humor? David Sedaris, Nora Ephron, even Jerry Seinfeld. And many more. None of those people write about their experiences the same way, even though they write about things everyone experiences–going out, talking to people, eating dinner, etc. How would you feel if your favorite humor writer quit because so many other people wrote about the same things she does?

Put your own uniqueness in your work. Trust yourself, and others will too.