The End of November, Already?


Now that it’s November 30th, perhaps you are wondering if I’ve written any more of that story I started in this, the National Novel Writing Month.  I’m sorry to tell you the answer is no.  Nor have I added to the story I started last November, or the one before that.  The truth is, I am a serial story abandoner.  It’s wrong, I know.  I give some characters life and then I leave them, helplessly stuck in place, their hands on doorknobs that never turn, in front of doors that apparently lead nowhere.  It’s not that I’m unfeeling.  The guilt is sometimes overwhelming.  It’s just that I’m afraid if I let them open those doors they will find nothing but walls on the other side.  Brick ones, built by craftsmen in the old days before walls were all made of plasterboard.  How can I break through the sturdy, artisan-built brick walls in my mind?  They may last a thousand years and become the ruins that archaeologists sift through.  “Good heavens, Arthur, this ancient wall has a doorknob next to it.  With the bones of a character’s hands still grasping it!” 


Anyway, who has time for such childish things?  Any fool can make up a story (note that this is an ironic use of “fool” that ignores the immense value and difficulty of producing a creative work).  Non-fiction is where the money is, baby.  Recently, for example, I got hired to write an essay for a publisher of high school history materials.  I did a bang-up job (and yes, I finished it), and they’ve engaged my services again.  Here’s the really cool part: I got this gig through a Xanga connection.  Several times I’ve come close to gaining paying work through someone on Xanga, but this is the first time it has panned out.  And it only took seven years.  Social networking FTW!  So thanks, Xanga buddy—you know who you are.


Another one of my part-time, inconsistent, low-paying jobs involves helping high school students with their college application essays.  This is what I’ve learned about modern youth: most of them couldn’t write their way out of a bag of Cheetos and a can of Red Bull.  No, that didn’t make any sense, but it’s far better than the crap high school students write.  Here is another thing I’ve learned: in terms of achievement in general and essay writing in particular, the daughters of Indian immigrants kick everyone else’s ass up and down the halls of academia.  Somewhere there must be an Indian Parents’ Guide to Raising Exceptional Young Women.  Remind me to check on Amazon.


Speaking of high school girls, it has recently come to my attention that there’s a new TV show called “I Hate My Teenaged Daughter,” in which some mothers grapple with the challenge of cleaning up the destruction wrought by their spoiled kids, who apparently embody every stereotypical teen-girl characteristic the producers could think of.  This is what popular culture has come to: bumbling and contemptible fictional mothers deal ineffectually with their nasty, despicable girls for the entertainment of the television audience.  It’s misogyny training for the masses.


For the record, I love my teenaged daughter, who is smart, compassionate, loyal, and kind.  There’s no sitcom about kids like her on Fox, but there should be.  Real people make for better stories than the cardboard characters that tell us nothing about girls and everything about the men who put TV shows on the air.


In fact, I ought to write a story.




13 thoughts on “The End of November, Already?

  1. My youngest daughter graduated from high school at age 15. In community college she once had a prof delay a grade because he suspected her of plagiarism since her paper was so full of ten-dollar words. No Indian blood, but she’s about 1/64th Chickasaw. She read The Hobbit at age 7, I think. But yeah, kids like her are the exception. I remember the glum days of grading underclassmen papers when I was in grad school. There was usually one, sometimes two literate ones in each class who wrote well and had few errors of English or spelling. They usually had the best content, too.

  2. I am SO BUMMED you’re not going to finish the story. But I’m thrilled you’ve found paying non-fiction work. I’m moving into an entirely unpaid direction. Things are weird with me now so it’s probably best you hardly ever visit us here on Xanga. YES, that’s me trying to make you feel guilty. I know it won’t work. The devil FB is just so much more compelling.  :-p  Oh, and p.s.: I saw the surgeon re: my frankenbelly and he suggested…duh duh duh…MORE plastic surgery. I totally should have seen that coming, yes???!!!

  3. I did like that story, but I totally hear you on story abandonment.  Whenever I sit down to write what feels like a long story in my head, it comes out as flash fiction.  Huh.  Congrats on the paying nonfiction work!and@ordinarybutloud – Shut UP.  Now what?!?  And by the way, I took a class at the Y this a.m. and the skinnier than a twig instructor announced that she’s “finally” having surgery for a hernia and damaged abdominal wall from when she had twins 11 years ago.  I was shocked to hear that someone so insanely thin and in such fantastic shape had that problem.  You sure can’t see it through her spandex!

  4. @turningreen – nor mine. You can’t see it through my spandex either. HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA.  I mean “couldn’t,” past tense.  I have a “dog ear,” which is a common tummy tuck problem that evidently requires suctioning, which leads to an inevitable discussion about what other things we might want to suction while we’re at it. To which I say: back away with your suctioning machine (but please fix my dog ear). Eh, I don’t know. I have six months to think about it. I’ll put it on the list (of things to think about). Wasn’t the interview today?? How did it go?

  5. Indian girls are kick ass in school. Not my kind of course, American Indian. I wonder if it is because they had to be clever to find their spot in society? My son is in the gifted class and it’s him and mostly Indian and Asian children. Hmmm.

  6. November!  I knew I was forgetting something.  Congratulations on your paying gig.  Will you still remember us when you’re in the 1%?  (That was a joke.  Not an especially funny one, but then, I’m not getting paid to write this crap.)

  7. Haven’t heard of that show – sounds awful, and sad.  I wouldn’t be surprised if the teen girls on that show are the sames one who were on Toddlers & Tiaras a few years ago?  What they are teaching those girls, starting at age 2 or 3, is child abuse, in my opinion. 

  8. Just when I was waiting for more of  ‘The not-Old Lady and the C-AT.’ So yer sayin’ that the bus-driver opened the door, but it only revealed a blank wall. That the evil government had put into place such devices precisely to foil lone escapees. And that her friend who’d stopped by to share and cry that last night just happened to see her give up on the bus, and that they are now spending the next couple chapters driving across the country in a beat-up Ford convertible. That’s what you’re saying?

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