you out of your fucking mind?”
it. That’s the first thing you should tell your child when he says he wants to
be a writer when he grows up.
next? you may ask. Well, that depends on what his reaction is after you just
asked him whether he’s out of his fucking mind. It also depends on how old he
If he’s six or seven years old, bribe him with a toy car (or better yet, a Nintendo Switch) and tell him never, ever to say anything that blasphemous again as long as he’s living under your roof.
child is already in his early teens, however, then you have a bigger problem.
think that he’s so slick and will try to act like a smart-ass while you reason
with him. This is so because he will think that writers (and, you know, he’s a
wannabe writer right now, the little shit) are smarter than the rest of the population,
which is a big lie of course. But still, he will think this way. So tread
probably he will answer, “Of course I’m not out of my FUCKING mind.” Then he’ll
flash you a smile and an irritating, smug look on his face.
deep breath, and then ask him, as calmly as you can, “So what kind of writer do
you want to be when you grow up?” (You’d probably also want tell him not to say
“fucking” again, that you didn’t mean to swear—but that’s just me.)
says he wants to write fiction, be a novelist perhaps, heave a sigh of relief.
Then ask him, “So what language are you planning to write your novel in?”
of course,” the little shit will answer.
really?” you will ask. “Even the dialogue?”
will get him thinking, believe me. Because, while he might think he’s such a
goddamn expert at writing in English, his first language isn’t English. He was
still born and raised in the Philippines, and the first language he heard other
people speak—and learned how to speak himself—would be Tagalog or Cebuano or
Hiligaynon or Kapampangan, whatever. He learned English in school. And through
the Hollywood movies he’s watched. The books and comics he’s read. The music
streaming from his iPhone.
little shit. Verbally fluent in his native language (Tagalog or Cebuano or
Hiligaynon or Kapampangan, whatever) but can’t even write a decent sentence in
could he possibly think that he could write natural-sounding dialogue in
English? In a country where the only English dialogue spoken is on call center
floors and inside elementary-school classrooms run by concentration camp
English teachers who force pupils to avoid speaking in their native language by
threat of fines? Think swear jar, with a taped-up sign that says “English-only
he will say, “I’ll write a high fantasy novel. I’ll invent everything, the
entire world in that novel. The setting won’t be in present-day Philippines.
Characters in my novel will live in a world where they speak their own version
you will answer him, and then add, “you’ll still want this high fantasy novel
to be rooted in Filipino fantasy, though. Don’t you? You haven’t read any
Filipino high fantasy novels. [Because, well, there are none.] You’ve read The
Lord of the Rings books, sure, and the Game of Thrones novels. To a lesser
extent, Narnia too. But if you only have these books as your inspiration or
guide, then you’re doomed to write a novel that’s destined to read like crappy
fan fiction that’s only fit for ‘publication’ in online forums.”
his pained reaction. Enjoy it. The sudden furrowing of his brow.
written poems. I can be a poet instead.”
this, laugh out loud. Really loud. Belly-laugh loud.
mean a Twitter poet like Lang Leav?” Laugh again. Mirthfully.
‘real’ poet like those Filipino poets in English that nobody reads?”
point you might feel a little sorry for him. You might be tempted to lay off
him, but don’t. Bore into him even more; this is for his own good after all.
This is a matter of life and death for your child, of him living a good life or
of him starving in a hovel somewhere while pecking at the keys of his battered
laptop, still thinking that he can be a fucking writer.
“I can be an essayist then,” he will say. “A columnist for a newspaper, even. I can earn money that way.”
your eyes, then shake your head slowly, left to right. Left to right. Then
You mean blogger? Essays are the bastard child of literature, son. Columnist?
You mean like Mocha Uson? In this age where newspapers are dying?” It will help
even more if you try to sound as sarcastic as you possibly can.
then add: “And don’t let me hear you say that you want to write plays. Please.”
(Make it sound like “puhhhh-leeeeez.”)
him take a seat on the couch, his shoulders slumped, defeated.
then his eyes light up. His face brightens. He has an idea, and you feel a cold
chill run up your spine.
won’t write for the fame, then!” he exclaims. “I’ll write stuff to live by! I
can write SEO articles, website content. I’ll ghostwrite, I’ll write ads. Heck,
maybe I can even become a technical writer!”
this, be afraid. Be very afraid.
least when he thought he could write literarily—fiction, poetry, essays—and if
he didn’t heed your warnings and still decided to push through, you’d give him
two months and he’d come back to you, literally starving. That image of him in
a hovel somewhere while pecking at the keys of his battered laptop, that’d last
for two months.
for God’s sake, he wants to become a paid hack. A paid hack! Mother of God.
not starve for two months and go running back to you afterward, heavens no—it’s
even worse. He’d technically (pun intended) starve for the rest of his life.
Criminally underpaid and unappreciated. He’d have enough for his day-to-day
existence, but that’s it. He could brag for the rest of his life that he’s a
writer, sure, but then what? Is that really worth bragging about? He won’t be
able to buy a house, or a car. If he wanted to get married and have a family,
he’d have to marry into a rich family.
would your relatives say? His cousins are being groomed to become doctors and
lawyers and accountants. Pilots. Nurses in the US and in Europe.
child? He wants to become a writer. Not a novelist or a poet or a
playwright—no, because you’ve managed to talk him out of all that lunacy, thank
God. Now he wants to become—*gasp!*—a paid hack.
beside him on the couch. Take a deep breath.
still hope, all is not lost. You got this.
your smartphone out of your pocket.
want to be an SEO writer, huh?”
Google is your best friend. Especially as a parent. Especially as a parent in
this make-or-break moment that will determine the future of your precious
that article that you came across many years ago. Then hand the phone to your
son and watch the horror on his face as he reads the article.
HOW DO I CORRECTLY USE GRAMMATICALLY INCORRECT KEYWORDS?
Many keyword terms don’t always contain grammatically correct phrases. This leaves SEO copywriters wrestling to incorporate keyword terms like “divorce lawyer New York” or “truffle chocolates red.” If you’re an SEO writer, one of your SEO keyword nightmares might be this term: “loose weight.” Can you believe that it’s actually a highly searched keyword phrase?
So, how can you use and integrate these “wild card” SEO keywords? Simple: Place strategic punctuation directly inside of your awkward keywords. Search engines don’t put any ranking weight on punctuation! This is great news for SEO copywriters. This means that instead of this awkward-sounding “optimized” sentence: “This year for Valentine’s Day give her TRUFFLE CHOCOLATES RED to help her get in the spirit,”You can write: “With spring just around the corner, the perfect gift for Valentine’s Day is a box of TRUFFLE CHOCOLATES. RED is the color of love, so why not get a box of the most delicious-looking truffle chocolates in romantic red shades for your special lady?”
Here’s how we could use the term “loose weight” in a way that doesn’t read absolutely horrifyingly: “After making the switch to a low-sugar, zero dairy, gluten-free and high-protein diet, I was able to drop 10 pounds inside of one month. My pants no longer fit because they’re too loose. Weight maintenance is the next goal on my health plan.”
Again, we’re able to not butcher grammar by ending a sentence at “loose” and starting a new one with “weight.”
that feeling of triumph when he returns your phone to you, glassy-eyed.
Horrified. But you’re not done yet. Far from it.
want to be a technical writer?”
TECHNICAL WRITING SUCK LESS?
want to work for an ad agency?”
COPYWRITER DIES AFTER WORKING 30 HOURS STRAIGHT
want to write website content?”
CONTENT WRITERS DEAL WITH ASSHOLE CLIENTS
want to ghostwrite for other authors?”
GHOSTWRITER: HOW TO LEARN TO LIVE AN UNFULFILLING AND LONELY LIFE
him as he lowers his his head, rests his hands on his lap, twiddles his thumbs.
Watch him as he takes a deep breath and exhales in surrender.
yourself the permission to hug him, and hug him tightly. Hug him like you’ve
never hugged him before. Allow yourself to let go, let go of the tears, those
tears of joy. Enjoy the moment as your son hugs you back, the little shit.
just saved his life.
of the drama, you decide, and tell him to go get some ice cream, handing him
some money. He smiles and thanks you, and hurries to his room to change.
also need a beer, badly, so you head toward the kitchen for a bottle of Red
Horse. Or, better yet—you change your mind—some tequila. But as your child is
heading out of the house, you see his eyes light up again.
shudder at what he’s about to say next.
know what, I can be a musician instead. A guitarist to be exact. I’m dropping
by Alan’s place for guitar lessons, he’s been at it for a couple years now!”
listen here, you little shit . . .” you start to say, but he’s already out the