ELEVEN THINGS I WOULD SAY TO MY 16-YEAR-OLD SELF
Somehow, I couldn't resist carrying this forward, in slightly altered form, after reading Jason Lundberg's blog entry.
What I'd Say to My 16-Year-Old Self
(1) You're not going to like pot, so don't even waste a night trying it. Switch over to cigars immediately instead.
(2) That beard you're trying to grow? Don't. You can't. It looks like three blades of grass in an acre of sand.
(3) You're going to balloon up to 260 lbs from your current 175 lbs in about six or seven years. But don't sweat it--you lose almost all of it and gain some valuable discipline in the process. Okay, so maybe go easy on the potato chips and soda anyway.
(4) You know that novel you've written the first page of, "Quin's Shanghai Circus"? About a magician going into a shop and buying a talking meerkat? Don't throw it away. One day, in your twenties, you'll finish it, turn it into SF, and call it Veniss Underground. Then it'll go unsold for eight years and you'll begin to think it sucks, but eventually it'll get sold and be up for all kinds of awards and shit. So, in general, don't throw anything away and finish as much stuff as you can.
(5) Being a penniless writer living in a hovel and starving for your art is overrated. It doesn't suit you. Stop it.
(6) You will develop a sense of humor soon after you begin getting laid regularly. Just remember this: you will not always be so serious.
(7) You're going to be diagnosed with cancer when you're about 21. It'll be a false diagnosis, but the acceptance you get from Weird Tales the day you find out you're gonna die--that thing's real.
(8) Stick to your guns and keep saying what's on your mind. A lot of what's on your mind is retarded, but you really never do figure out the difference between the good stuff and the retarded stuff, so what the hell--go with it.
(9) There's going to be a really bad typo in your swords-and-sorcery story in the school literary magazine ("the musty smell of countless ages" without the "o" in "countless"). Don't sweat it. These things happen. Maybe it was intentional by the typesetter, maybe not. But you'll never be able to prove it.
(10) Don't listen to those morons who keep saying, "You gotta go out and have real life experience to write about shit." Working a day job is a real life experience. Besides, you got all of that be-a-sailor-and-see-the-world crap out of your system as a kid in the Peace Corps. So, just try to make your life be stable and serene and calm so your work can be strangely weird.
(11) Don't sweat the rest of it--it'll all work out. The bad stuff is as important as the good stuff. Just remember that one day you will regret having liked Spandau Ballet's two big hits so much.
(Evil Monkey: "But, Jeff, a couple of those are kinda snarky. I mean, Jason's were sincere and kinda sweet." Jeff: "Yeah, I know. He took all the good ones. This is all I had left. Although it's all true!" Evil Monkey: "Good point, I guess." Jeff: "But what about you? What advice would you give to your former self?" Evil Monkey: "Well, I'm about ten now. What would I say to my two-year-old self? How about:
1 - Beating any animal to death with a tire iron can have serious repercussions.
2 - There is a thin line between "fan appreciation" and "stalking," especially when the band in question is Menudo.
3 - Throwing your own feces against a wall as a sign of your disapproval is only acceptable in some social situations.
4 - You may get in the habit of cutting off the heads of writers and whatnot who particularly annoy you in the mistaken belief they can "grow a new one." This is a bad habit.
5 - When they come for you, it's better not to resist arrest.)