Write like a motherfucker.

coffee motherfucker“Write like a motherfucker” is a quote from Cheryl Strayed’s book Tiny Beautiful Things: Advice on Life and Love from Dear Sugar. Dear Sugar is an advice column she wrote under the pen name of Sugar for the online literary journal The Rumpus. If you read this post of mine back at the end of the summer, you know of my love for Cheryl Strayed. I actually got to see her, the  living embodiment of her, at the New York Public Library in September. She was funny, honest, smart, and seemed like the type of person I’d want to have a beer with (or ma20121211-141423.jpgny beers and a few shots of whiskey). Not only because we both belong to the secret club of having a parent die in your early 20’s or because we both like to use the word “fuck” with abandon, but because we both believe in the power of words, love, and working your ass off.

I do believe in the power of words, love, and working my ass off, I do, but I am having one of those days when my ass feels worked off and I am  tired. I want to have a book written, an academic journal article(s?) written, this freakin’ post written and I just want to be done. Done for a teeny, tiny bit. To feel done. I feel like I’ll never make it as a professor and/or as a writer and that if I do ever make it then everyone will hate what I write or think it’s stupid. I am having one of those days riddled with insecurities that pop out from nowhere although I am sure they originate somewhere. I don’t even care about their origins today. I just want to eat Twinkies and get fat and watch good TV. (I am deeply in mourning about Twinkies, my favorite childhood indulgence in our no-sugar household. I was only able to get them for my birthday as my special treat from the grocery store. Twinkies!) Maybe adopt a few cats.

Ever have days like this about your writing? Your job? Your art? Your passion?

But because I believe in love, the word “fuck” as a noun, verb, and adjective, the power of words, my dead dad, and working my ass off, I ate three cookies while I re-read Strayed’s column “Write like a Motherfucker.” The young Elissa Bassist (who, by the tone of her question to Sugar, reminds me of the protagonist Hannah from Girls) wrote to Sugar complaining that she was 25 and not yet a famous writer. Sugar replied:

How many women wrote beautiful novels and stories and poems and essays and plays and scripts and songs in spite of all the crap they endured. How many of them didn’t collapse in a heap of “I could have been better than this” and instead went right ahead and became better than anyone would have predicted or allowed them to be. The unifying theme is resilience and faith. The unifying theme is being a warrior and a motherfucker. It is not fragility. It’s strength. It’s nerve. And “if your Nerve, deny you–,” as Emily Dickinson wrote, “go above your Nerve.” Writing is hard for every last one of us–straight white men included. Coal mining is harder. Do you think miners stand around all day thinking about how hard it is to mine for coal? They do not. They simply dig…

…So write, Elissa Bassist. Not like a girl. Not like a boy. Write like a motherfucker.

Then I went and googled Elissa Bassist, and she is writing like a motherfucker. Go to her website here. She is funny. Especially under her tab for Books Published. You click on it and see the word NONE. I literally laughed–maybe snorted–when I saw that. Now I want to have a beer with her, too.

I needed this adjustment to my motherfuckitude (a word used by Cheryl Strayed during her lecture. I actually wrote it in my journal. See attached photo above.) Now it’s back on track.

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5 thoughts on “Write like a motherfucker.

  1. I wonder how many hybrid-banjo-punk bands are starting up in Portland with the name Motherfuckitude. My guess, 6. 2 will make it past the garage stage, but 1 of those will move to Chicago, change its name to The Bankers and play straight jazz.

    • That’s a great etymological question that I have no answer for. I don’t know the genesis of the term “motherfucker” or how it evolved to mean a bad ass over time. I have never, ever heard anyone say “fatherfucker” in any context. I could google around for it, but so can you if you’re truly interested!

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