Festivus is nigh and so is the tolerance limit of what I can handle this holiday season. This article is long overdue in so many ways both literal and metaphorical, but it’s here now so shut your figgy pudding hole and enjoy this airing of grievances. Happy holidays.
1. “Lovecraft Country” was amazing and deserved a lot better from HBO.
2. Brainstorming and drafting is so much easier than revising and polishing.
3. Rory Gilmore is the worst. (NOTE FROM THE EDITOR: The Pipeline Artists staff would like to debate this point ...)
4. Getting a formal ADHD diagnoses didn’t really change anything externally. But internally, I know what life, writing, and existing hacks to look for now.
5. Jim Halpert is the actual worst.
6. Writing on ink and paper results in better content and prose for me, but it’s exhausting because it’s slow AF. The problem is, my brain is going too fast for my writing muscles to keep up. Plus I cannot read my own handwriting. But I do it anyway because if it was that good, I will remember it when I go to type it up. Probably.
7. Mustard is the devil incarnate, and I don’t let the bottle touch anything else in my fridge. Also, mayonnaise.
8. I would rather revise someone else’s entire manuscript than one page of my own.
9. Ross Geller is the worst character on “Friends” but David Schwimmer is the best actor on the show—head and shoulders above the rest. Except for Maggie Wheeler.
10. Getting a note from an editor that there is “infodumping” in my writing doesn’t mean that I suck. It just means that my story is ready for the next layer of fine-tuning. There’s nothing to fix, because there’s nothing inherently wrong with this. It’s just showing the reader the true age of the story—it’s young.
11. Some days, trying to function while working through trauma feels like a full-time job. But contrary to what I’ve thought about myself for the past few dozen years, I am not a lazy person. I’m just coping. And that takes up a lot of physical, mental, and emotional bandwidth.
12. I am also lazy. But I am very proud of this. It makes me a very creative person because I get inventive about shortcuts and how to bundle my energy.
13. If it drives faster than a horse can run, it’s too fast. If we were meant to be anywhere that quickly, we’d have an exhaust pipe coming out of our butts.
14. Backstory is REALLY helpful in early iterations of drafting when my story is just starting to reveal itself to me, but after a while—it’s like keeping scaffolding on a new building even after it’s built. Or training wheels. That might be a better metaphor. Sure, training wheels match the frame of your ten-speed but it doesn’t mean they are helpful or necessary. If an editor finds “backstory” in my manuscript, this just means it is ready for the next revision. Again, there’s nothing “wrong” or “bad,” it just doesn’t belong on the page anymore.
15. Brainstorming, drafting, and revising are different AF. Brainstorming is deciding on a recipe and/or shopping for/stealing ingredients. Drafting is putting stuff in the mixer and adding spices and preheating the oven or whatever. Revising is knowing when to take it out of the oven, letting it cool FULLY, and then decorating it with frosting. Proofreading is the sprinkles on the very top, except that you’re severely allergic to sprinkles and want to cry anytime you have to touch them.
16. I will put my clean laundry away, but I refuse to fold it. Bunch, bundle, and shove FTW.
17. Drafting my novel in the wrong POV is annoying AF but it is not a crime. This helped.
18. Yes, Jack and Rose could have both literally fit on the floating door but that doesn’t mean they both would have survived hypothermic shock. It’s basic wilderness survival. Let’s say every human has 100 units of “warmth” but needs only 75 units to survive. Given that they were both already treading water in the FREAKING ATLANTIC OCEAN, they would have both lost their pinching reflexes by the time they found the floating door at which point they were each down to, say, 50 units of warmth. And by getting up out of the water and onto the door, Rose got an +25 units of warmth. However if Jack had ALSO gotten on and STAYED on the door, they would have had to split those remaining 25 units so, 12.5 each or whatever, which puts them both at MAYBE 63.5 units of warmth and they both would have died. Don’t @ me. Don’t check my math.
19. Getting a note that I have “POV-jumping” in my manuscript is not the end of the world. It might not be a quick fix, but it is a simple one. Seeing this visual from The Balance was my ah-ha moment to help me realize this was tripping me up in my own writing.
20. Dwight Schrute is the Nellie Oleson of Scranton, Pennsylvania.
21. Our new puppy’s bowels have no respect for our rugs, but he rings the backdoor potty-bell AFTER he takes a dump inside, and I love him even more because of it. His name is Owen.
22. Starting my story “too soon” just means that too much of my story is showing. The content might be BEAUTIFULLY written, but it doesn’t mean it’s helpful. Easiest fix: Delete the first few paragraphs or chapters or whatever it takes to start in a “better” spot.
23. It’s a Wonderful Life is a horrible movie. It’s dark and weird and entitled and depressing, and I have always hated it. Ditto A Christmas Story. I think it’s the forced-sentiment that irks me. There’s also a lot of not-so-thinly-veiled emotional abuse in all of it.
24. Writing a synopsis suuuuuucks. Nobody likes writing these boring effers. Even people who like writing them don’t like writing them. Why? Because we spend how many weeks, months, years of our life showing-not-telling and what do we need to do in a synopsis? TELL, TELL, TELL. It’s so freaking counterintuitive. But the minute I accepted that it’s just a hoop I need to jump through, the easier it was to hate it a little less. As long as it’s not mine, I kind of love reading other people's synopses.
*Feature Image from Erica Davis