The arts are not a way to make a living

They say you should never meet your heroes, they’ll only let you down. But what if you write them a letter asking for advice and they throw this blisteringly awesome observation in your face? You don’t have an excuse NOT to get into the arts anymore.

It’s like damn, dropped the mic on y’all.

Here is a lesson in creative writing.

First rule: Do not use semicolons. They are transvestite hermaphrodites representing absolutely nothing. All they do is show you’ve been to college.

And I realize some of you may be having trouble deciding whether I am kidding or not. So from now on I will tell you when I’m kidding.

For instance, join the National Guard or the Marines and teach democracy. I’m kidding.

We are about to be attacked by Al Qaeda. Wave flags if you have them. That always seems to scare them away. I’m kidding.

If you want to really hurt your parents, and you don’t have the nerve to be gay, the least you can do is go into the arts. I’m not kidding. The arts are not a way to make a living. They are a very human way of making life more bearable. Practicing an art, no matter how well or badly, is a way to make your soul grow, for heaven’s sake. Sing in the shower. Dance to the radio. Tell stories. Write a poem to a friend, even a lousy poem. Do it as well as you possibly can. You will get an enormous reward. You will have created something.

Kurt Vonnegut

I’ll never be Vonnegut. I am me. I don’t write for the mainstream. I write for the dreamers, those who are off-kilter, for the kids who probably thought their whole life was doomed to be in the Upside Down. I probably won’t ever show up on the New York Times’ Bestseller List, and I’m okay with that. If my only goal was to be there, I could have written some piece of tripe a long time ago and been done with it. But I can’t and I won’t. I write for me.

Do you agree or disagree with Vonnegut? Let me know in the comments!

write on, Guilliean
write on, Guilliean

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On Submitting to Literary Publications

I’ve got a whole process for putting submission dates into my Google Calendar because I have the memory of a sieve. If it’s not on my phone with an alarm, I will forget. Which sucks, but that’s smartphone addiction for you. I have the notification set for 1 week before, to give me time to revise whatever piece I planned to submit.

What I normally do is what I call “pre-research” publications: suss out their submissions page, see if they have a contest and get as much info as I can. If I think I have something in my wheelhouse that will vibe with them, I put it in my Calendar. If not, I move onto to the next. I have a template that I’ve modified as I’ve done this pre-research. If you’re a writer looking to submit, I suggest using it yourself, or modifying it to fit your needs:

Max Length:
Submissions URL:
Submission Date:
Publish Date:

In time, I hope to start posting writing contests that I think people might be interested in. If you have any to share, please let me know in the comments!

write on, Guilliean
write on, Guilliean

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Craft Talk

Originality does not exist 

No, for real. It doesn’t. So get your head out of the clouds and realize the pressure is off.

But Guilliean, what are you saying?

Listen here, young blood. I’m here to make you realize and accept that you’re not original. What you think you have to say has already been said before in different tongues for many generations. 

So what does that mean for me, you ask. 

What you have to say and how you say it is what makes it original. 

Boom. I blew your mind. It’s okay.


You may be going for originality but your literary predecessors will constantly remind you that you’re not.

Know what I say to that? Fuck it. Frolic, have fun with what you’re doing. Don’t get bogged down in your head.

write on, Guilliean
write on, Guilliean

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Suddenly You Remember

After death, I will grow and scatter myself and someone will say my name with love for the last time. Will they be male or female or someone in between? Will their declarations of love be for the People, or in front of the clouded bathroom mirror? Will the love they proclaim be eternal, will the next generation know my name as well as their own, will my name die on my lover’s tongue when they take their last breath? 

This is my legacy. A death that may persist my Being to the next plane but I suppose I’ll never know if it will be remembered. I don’t have time for flowers and shit, but this is why I write. My legacy is the prose I will leave behind. Should I marry and bear children they will come of me but they will not be me. These words that I leave behind will be my inheritance. I apologize to my future children for admitting this but Nanay knows best. 

Our culture will be downloaded and encoded in my words and they will be my Truth. I am that I that I announce. There is beauty in this dark and ugly world and I refuse to let it remain in the shadows. 

I know I was banging on about flowers earlier but I suppose this whole exercise is flowers. I like sunflowers. I like anything with the word sun in their name. There’s something so humbling to know that at the inevitable end of the universe, the heat death that awaits us is contained and controlled by that large ball of gas in the sky. We call it the sun. How beautiful that something so far away could control us like an addiction. Like the firm grip of a mother’s hand to her child. 

We are all children making steps to our heat deaths. Age moves like a waltz: dancing to a familiar beat. Let the beat drop. Open thyself to the warmth of the sun. 

I miss the sun. 

Your turn! Start a new piece with the words “after death” and see what happens. If you want to share your stuff in the comments below, I’d love to see it!

write on, Guilliean
write on, Guilliean

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