Sometimes people email me about writing advice or ask how I got started or whatever and I honestly have no idea what to tell them other than ‘fucking do it.’ This leads me to believe that our school system isn’t helping future writers at all. All around me I see asses without lips to kiss them. I see connections with no connector. I see ephemeral books with no half-assed publishers. So here are some ideas for new writing classes, which, I think will help out future writers.
1. ‘Strategic Mentioning of Your Current Project 101’
In this class, we will look at methodically inserting what you’re working on in just about any situation. The class focuses on not only mentioning what you’re working on, but appearing not to be thinking about mentioning it in the time leading up to mentioning it. Emphasis on effective head-nodding and discreet ass-kissing (‘marinating the meat’). Students will be encouraged to get into groups holding wine glasses and discuss a provided (non-writing related) topic that they are then responsible for using as a catalyst to talk about his/her newest project (with, hopefully, an ability to avoid using the stock phrase, ‘you know it’s funny you said that because when I was working on (x)….’ and then be graded on how well they appear to not want to expand on their project when being asked to expand on it.
2. ‘Craft Seminar: Creating the Perfect Impersonal Mass Marketing Email’
In this seminar, students focus on creating an impersonal mass marketing email addressing everyone they’ve ever emailed, in an attempt to generate interest in a project they have updated people about for months. Students are encouraged to dismiss the insulting nature and really go for the gold in overzealously describing his/her book, including which authors it’s like a meeting of, how excited they are to have completed the project, and like, at least ten different confusing links to the press’s website, an excerpt, a twitter for the book, place to download music s/he listened to while creating the project, etc. Bonus points for developing a sense of the project being nearly life and death while working on it and for thanking everyone in a manner suggestive of having just won an academy award.
3. ‘How to Post the Perfect Picture of You Reading a New Book on the Internet’
In today’s fast scrolling world, it’s sometimes hard to keep people informed about everything you’re doing in a self-serving image-conscious way. So in this class, we take a look at how to best arrange a photo of yourself holding a book you recently purchased. Emphasis will be put on not only choosing a book of current social currency, but also what face to be making/clothes to be wearing when doing so. Students will be graded based on ‘likes’ they receive.
4. ‘Targeting the Right Publications to Use for Name-Brand Value’
This is an upper-level class in assembling the right resume of publications that only have name-brand value (and even then, to like, fifteen people). In this course, the student is taught to forget about the inherent value of his/her work and instead, defer to using the highly subjective value of whatever publications s/he has been in. Students will also be encouraged to remember and list all publications in every bio. The midterm project for this class will be posting internet notification upon publication of said journal including the kissing of the asses of the other writers included, in order to indirectly praise one’s self. Students will be encouraged to use adjectives like ‘gorgeous’ and ‘(something invoking bodily damage sustained from reading said journal)’
5. ‘Crafting the Perfect Shithead Bio’
In a world of words, we all too often forget the most important use of these words: to aggrandize and sell ourselves. The writer’s bio is a forgotten art. We will take a look at different classic forms, such as the ‘everywhere i’ve been published and every award i’ve won,’ the ‘quick attempt at third person zaniness’ the ‘seems written by an agent’ and the ‘bullshit self-effacement’ technique. Students will be encouraged to forget that literally not a single person could give a fuck about you at all and to instead approach self-description with the same embarrassing spectacle one might find on an apartment listing.
6. ‘How to Navigate AWP’
For a group of largely anti-social or dysfunctionally social people, AWP is the prom. So one wouldn’t want to get caught standing against the wall with no dance partner! Find out all about how to approach the convention, beginning with ‘how to act like you don’t know if you’re going or want to go to elicit invitations’ all the way through ‘tepid sexual encounter used purely for later writing purposes.’ Figure out which bullshit panels you want to attend to tweet during. Students will also be drilled on his/her ability to repeat trendy political/theoretical slogans to appear part of ‘the conversation.’ The ability to constantly reference one’s awkwardness isn’t enough in this bore or be bored world, so the student will also be drilled in the ability to switch between asinine academic jargon and (more) normal socializing. Mastery of said balance will be displayed in a final where the student is walked through a shooting range type scenario where either a cardboard cut-out resembling an academic pops up, or a ‘nerdy glasses wearing emo librarian type’ pops up and the student has to quickly decide how to react and fit-in.
7. ‘Figuring Out Incredibly Alienating and Irrelevant Niches’
In this paradoxically expanding but contracting environment, it is important to find a niche that will guarantee you attention. Students will be taxed with coming up with a corner that no one has ever heard of, like ‘the use of arboreal similes in urban post-modern writing’ or ‘writing about the writing of writing,’ ‘critical writing about some dumbass tv show with societal implications.’ By establishing a new niche, one can guarantee they are viewed as the head pundit of said niche and can therefore create opportunities to appear on ‘panels’ or speaking engagements in colleges who are confused about the death of writing and funding all across the country. Students can of course, write about the standard ‘being in grad school while a relationship is falling apart’ avenue.