Original posting date: November 3, 2015

COLD OPEN
To my millions of loyal, imaginary readers and fans, there is something that I want you to know.  Contrary to what you see before you, I do not write.  All of my posts (including this one) have less to do about my affinity for blogging and more to do with my own merciless standards by which I manipulate the english language;  the artistic bar set and inspired by works of true beauty, crafted by ascended masters that turn painfully pathetic paragraphs into poetic and powerful prose. 

MY WORST CRITIC IS- (and other cliches),
so it’s perfectly insecure logic that my perpetual re-writes are as counter-productive as they are frustrating, but then again practice, practice, practice(and other motivational yadda-yadda).  I try to hide my rookie card by training in the darker, lesser known places on the internet(like right here), whereas by deliberate absence of any web-promotion, it’s still possible to pretend that I’m all alone and anti-social.   Even though it's true all my readers are imaginary,  this work is technically in the public domain where I am disciplined by the 21st Century fear of being laughed at by a consultant at the NSA, or flagged by a Google-bot with an algorithm set to recognize bad content when it sees it.  Close your eyes and imagine becoming sleepless and stagnant in a hot, windowless room filled with the choking flatulence of fast and furious failure.  That’s the road ahead if I ever wish to be considered a real writer.  Those are just the facts. 

HERE'S PROOF.
The real writers of the world are bound, printed, published, and publicized. Every single one of them(or you, depending on who is reading) are charter members of an exclusive club. Membership includes unrestricted license-free usage of the title “Writer” on business cards, at parties, in meetings of all sorts and debates of every flavor.  Once you earn it can never be revoked. It stays with you regardless of your state of being(drunk, sober, sedate, high), or your state of mind(agitated, insane, focused, relaxed). This “occupational tenure” will stay with you well after your death, especially if your death is a suicide.  Ignore the zealots that claim, self-termination with extreme prejudice is a sin.  Any good PR firm knows that death by strange circumstance is pure, sensational gold for your brand.  Too good to be true? Just ask Ernest Hemingway, who just finished a few rounds of tennis with David Foster Wallace. They’ll happily regale you with tales of Eden and the Infinite.

BUT THERE'S A BIGGER PROBLEM.
Simply put, the highly coveted title of “Writer” deserves much more respect and reverence than it has been given.  Its actual value has been woefully diminished by millions of selfish, cold blooded violators. A recent study (that will read more like an enduring and disparaging stereotype) has shown that over 75% of these alleged perpetrators are indigenous to a coastal region of Southern California, where a bizarre currency system borne on the internet known as Likes and Followers are considered tangible, physical assets.  

GROWTH HAS BEEN EXPONENTIAL.
Hard to believe, but L&F are traded as stocks on their own exchange. The traders, brokers and managers of this exchange are known for congregating in fashionably Haute, hopelessly crowded restaurants where name dropping, hyperbole and writer’s title violations can occur hundreds of times within two cubic feet, causing bullish market fluctuations and over-inflated investment ratings that make the recent subprime debacle feel like a game of Three Card Monty.

IT'S PEER* REVIEWED SCIENCE.
Thanks to a recently declassified NSA report, Statisticians at Cal Tech have predicted if things continue on this aggressive trend, the number of writers title abuses will surpass the use of the word "fuck" by all New Yorkers by the year 2022.  Professors of Social Anthropology at UC Davis say they are very concerned, and give the industry a 1 in 7 chance of stabilizing the numbers by 2020.  Despite the obvious media blackout on this issue,  a large number of alternative news sources including 2 whistleblowers from the CIA claim a slightly different story. They, along with certain fringe groups have proclaimed the 2022 event has already happened, and the truth is being suppressed by corporate owned media. 

*A room full of other drunk writers.

Incidents per hour

THERE’S HOPE.
By way of a strict program that focuses on education and enlightenment, we can find and foster writers with true potential to create relevant, important and artistic work that really matters.  We must also teach them about the other important skill they need to do business in the 21st century:  Sleeping with the right people.

WAIT. IT'S NOT THAT EASY.
Simple math, you say? Better keep reading my young grasshopper, because it's not as easy as it used to be. These days, you can’t just get naked and expect to be handed a golden ticket. You have to be competitive;  a total champion in the sack. And don't think you have it under control because of that time you think you blew someone's mind at some rave, years back, on ecstasy. You have to be relatively sober for this one, and sex, like the iPhone, is constantly updating. Lack of modern carnal knowledge is no excuse for losing the deal of a lifetime. Do your research, study the human body, but when it comes to actual tradecraft, stay the hell off the internet, there are far too many terrible examples.  Instead, consider practicing on a friend who you can trust to give you honest, sober feedback. Train like The Karate Kid, and the “right people” will read your work in earnest; after which, you either leave with some valuable advice to improve your skills and an an open invitation to have another go, or your work ascends to one of the all-powerful gatekeepers of the four great gauntlets(provided you put them into a dreamy, post-coital bliss beforehand). Still, be prepared to have another go anyway, so take your vitamins and do all the usual.

LET’S GET STRAIGHT TO IT.
The four great gauntlets are: Published, Printed, PAID, and Penance. The second to the last category is in all caps for a reason- you must get paid for your work. A paycheck means there is interest in what you have to say by an audience large enough for a publisher to justify killing a few trees. Don't feel bad about that, for even the CEO of Greenpeace would agree that fewer eyeballs on the Kardashians are worth taking down that 100-year-old Redwood.  If your subject matter is considered more topical than most, your popularity increases and your modest book signings will become televised guest appearances on all those shows where writers make guest appearances.

YOUR FIRST BOOK WILL BE GREAT FUN!
Welcome to the world of paid travel, flowing champagne, sushi in the green room, and blowjobs by complete strangers who were deeply affected by your protagonist’s passionate monolog in chapter ten.  Success feels even better than you imagined!  Close your eyes and enjoy it, but stay focused. Be careful not to let an excited fan distract you from opening your eyes and realizing where you really are and what you have become-

BOOM!
Hello, writer! That's right, you're a writer forever, with an official title underwritten by the highly-credentialed arbiters of good taste.  You now own a fine plot of tax-free real estate in the literary world, whether you write a hundred more or never write again. You would be googling yourself right now, except you're way too busy hobnobbing with other hobnobs, and there's a long line of semi-attractive bridge-and-tunnel waiting with bated breath to briefly bask in your brawny and bristling brilliance. Go have fun and give everyone a few #selfies.  After the euphoria from your first signing party dissipates, take a look around, and check your social feed.  If you managed to not do or say anything stupid in public, the adventure is just beginning.  By this time tomorrow, you will be assigned an able assistant, a razor sharp publicist and a literary agent known in the publishing circles of New York as "The Bulldog".  Better be ready, for your next test of intestinal fortitude will be:

THE MEDIA CESSPOOL!
To survive this chaotic phase without flushing your career,  you must first earn merit badges for the following six challenges:

TV/RADIO/PODCAST INTERVIEWS:
Be yourself, be hilarious and be drunk if you must, but only if you can maintain decorum under the watchful eye of social-media scrutiny. Where even in the monstrous face of tremendous pressure you must be adorable to the many and offensive to the few.  

It's worth mentioning a second time.
Hold your liquor at every party like a camel holds water across the Sahara.
 

THE "RIGHT" AMOUNT
of cocaine can enable you to make multiple appearances at parties, press releases and book signings in a single night and still drink like a fish, just to prove that you’re having a great time.  Your agent will love you for all the press, but be careful of doing too much too quickly. Have your assistant hold your stash, monitor your public behavior and moderate your usage.  Take a moment to create some special hand signals. They will come in especially useful when she has to tell you discreetly and quickly to stop chewing your tongue, or that you're becoming “way too sweaty and intense”.

CAMERAS ARE EVERYWHERE.
Everywhere! So take nothing for granted. Whiten your teeth and the whites of your eyes. As for wardrobe, keep it edgy you rock star!  But- careful not to go too silly or too far. Find the most stylish, pretentious, East coast friend/stylist you know and have them sign off on all your clothes. Audition everything.  Do not take any chances with fashion or let your sex appeal lose momentum. If you're working coke habit has not helped you lose your little writer's belly by now, cut back on the booze,  and hit the gym.

TREAT YOUR ASSISTANT WITH RESPECT.
She is your biggest ally, confidant and often your first line of defense. If she has any questions about her job description, train her properly.  Start by binge-watching season 1 of "Ray Donovan". Then “Become Ray" by paying her in cash and sharing all the perks.  Make a friend. Surprise her with bonuses. If she respects and cares for you, you’ve got a partner in crime that would never rat you out, unless you act like a douchebag.  Then she'll quit, and gigabytes of your drunken, naked selfies and sexcapades will “mysteriously” end up in the hands of TMZ.

THIS IS GOING TO SOUND OBVIOUS.
Everything you do from this point onward must be done professionally. If you find yourself going at it too hard, mellow out, eat a real meal and detox. If you end up in rehab when your career is just beginning, people will say that you were afraid of your own success. In the time it takes you to say “Facebook feed”, your “followers” are calling you a self-sabotaging loser.  On the other hand, if you wait until your second or third book to check into Betty Ford, you are free to blame “the corporations”, and not your cocaine for "taking your soul" and fans old and new will lovingly forgive your past transgressions.

STILL ALIVE?
Get ready for the experience that legit writers refer to as "the icing on the cake", "I must be dreaming" and "I fucking love my agent". Welcome to:  Produced.  A franchise movie deal! You can expect everything as above, but bigger, better, sweeter but with even more intoxicating power. This phase is also known as; “The Stratosphere”, “The Lottery Ticket” and "Let's go shopping for speedboats". Not much to tell you here, because if you managed to survive the Media Machine Cesspool and emerged without a visible scratch, your instincts and your assistant are serving you perfectly. 

BE SAVVY. BE SMART.
Maintain your famous attention to detail, like making sure they let you write every last word in the screenplay.  And when the corporate studio heads offer you an additional 10 million to change the dog into a fish and the girl into a weird, talking, purple stuffed animal with a dubious sexual history, don’t be stupid. Your fans will respect you for not selling out.  On the other hand,  maybe you got shrewd and re-invested the 10M in exchange for an equity stake, EP credit, control of the writers' room, final cut, and North American digital distribution rights?  Who knew you could be such a business savvy, bad ass motherfucker?

ONE FINAL THING.
Before you head out the door to enjoy more spoils of literary stardom,  there's one more extremely important thing you must do. Perhaps the most important thing you will ever do as a successful writer. Welcome to the final test known as PENANCE.

CANCEL EVERYTHING.
You heard me. Rush to the airport immediately. Fly, fly, fly back to that dusty little cabin in Nantucket or that tiny guest house in Malibu or that decrepit hotel with the French crack-house motif.  Check into your old room, the one with the gaping hole in the bathroom wall that the alcoholic with vitriolic prize fighter known as Bukowski made during the days of the typewriter ribbon and his like minded train-wrecks of the female persuasion.

OFF THE CELLPHONE.
Give a big, warm hug to your assistant and then tell her to come back in two weeks. Lock the door behind you. Take it all in.  With arms extended in gratitude, give thanks to this tiny, nicotine stained space you stayed in when you had nothing. Remember it was right here, in this very room where you made your idea into words and words into magic.  Now meditate. Try to get at least half of your chakras spinning, then thank every friend who loaned you money.  Now give special reverence and respect to all of your enemies, for you have realized how much you needed that fire, fury, and ferociousness to focus on your art,  burn bridges and never look back.

LIGHT A CANDLE.
Now thank the creative spirits, a lot.  For it was they who watched you toil night after night as you bloodied yourself repeatedly to force the next sentence and pray that your words carry relevance and meaning. Show ample gratitude for the night they gave you more than you ever asked for-  the blissful bombardment of consciousness-expanding articulations, every word reading like music, every sentence flowing like a river, and you could barely write fast enough to keep up.

NEVER FORGET.
be especially grateful to those beautiful, amazing women who were inexplicably attracted to your darkness, your struggle, and your way with words. Remember the one that came to you on that cold rainy night, how you loved to see yourself reflected in her eyes, and how she kissed you deeply and without inhibition though you tasted like whiskey and cigarettes.  Never, ever forget how she loved you unconditionally in the moments you were together.  Never forget how she made you feel beautiful, alive, important and inspired.  Remember that you loved her too.

WELL DONE!
Now go over to the desk and make yourself a drink. Open the drawer and pick up the pen and paper.

-Keith Fucking DeCristo


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