Kid, we need to have a talk. No, this isn’t your conscience. That self-righteous buzzkill is still butthurt over the gerbil you tied an army man parachute to and dropped from the roof when you were six. Fact is, what I have to say is way more important than poor Sergeant Whoppers. Minimize that Word doc and listen up.

This is your writer’s block, and you’ve got to cut it out with this novel bullshit. I’m fucking exhausted.

Look, I commend you on your dedication to your craft. (Your word, not mine.) Even though yours is the only cerebral cortex I’ve ever manifested from, I have to assume your strong work ethic and grit determination are rare qualities in a twenty-something. And you’ve managed to fend off some of my most effective diversionary tactics, even my ultimate secret weapon: reminding you that YouTube exists. You got chutzpah, kid. I respect that.

It’s like you chuck handfuls of word magnets at your roommate’s beer fridge and record verbatim whatever manages to stick.

What I don’t respect, and therefore strive to suppress with every fiber of my incorporeal being, is your godawful writing.

I’m sure this must come as a shock. Up until now you’ve received high praise for your ability to create compelling narratives, but it’s high time you learned your lifelong literary ambitions have been validated by well-meaning half-truths and outright lies. Or put more simply, every compliment you’ve ever received was horseshit.

You see, your high school teachers were so thrilled you were writing anything extracurricular they opted to look past the absurdity of your Buffy-Xena crossover fanfiction. Obligated by the liberal arts’ stipulation that everyone be right (or at least not wrong), your college professors sidestepped criticism of your neo-surrealist short story collection Forgotten Time Remembered by suggesting a few years in the real world might hone your prose. And frankly your coworkers are convinced you’d blow your brains out in the conference room if they ever divulged their true feelings about your experimental poetry zine.

No more sugarcoating. It’s time you recognize the solid I do you every day by subduing your imagination and causing you forget what “loquacious” means each time you try to use it in a sentence.

Is any of this sinking in?

Maybe we should go about it differently. Just take a close, unbiased look at your writing. Every sentence you churn out is less a grammatical thought and more a mangled high-speed collision of semicolons and high school vocabulary words. It’s like you chuck handfuls of word magnets at your roommate’s beer fridge and record verbatim whatever manages to stick. It’s as if English isn’t even your first language but something you learned by reading your own Buffy-Xena fanfic. It’s like all of that, except worse. Much, much worse.

Wake up and smell the Red Bull, kid. The Next Great American Novel won’t be written by a 27-year-old with clear braces and a Deathly Hallows tattoo.

I apologize for being so harsh. I imagine you’re taking this very personally since, you know, it’s coming from an aspect of your literal person. But I need you to understand that I’m not your enemy. In fact, I’m your friend—your best friend. I’m the saving grace keeping you from wasting years of your life on a delusional dream you have absolutely no hope of achieving. Why don’t you give us both a break by shelving those literary dreams right alongside that copy of Infinite Jest you’ve been trying in vain to get through since 2009?

What?! Of course you shouldn’t try to get through it again! Have I taught you nothing in the past five minutes?

You know what, fuck it, you’re on your own. Best of luck self-publishing your magnum opus, you ungrateful hack.

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