Ten Reasons Not to Become a Writer1 - by Terry Portillo

  1. First drafts, revisions, and multiple submissions consume entire old growth forests.
  2. Writing will turn you into a mole, as you gather and convert your friends' most intimate secrets into material for your next story.
  3. Scribbling notes while driving in heavy traffic may be hazardous to your health.
  4. You may be tempted to engage in illicit or dangerous activities so that you can write what you know.
  5. Your editor's opinion will matter more to you than your spouse's.
  6. Your parents, in-laws, and priest will have front row seats for your wildest fantasies.
  7. People at parties will expect you to be as intelligent, witty, and charming as your characters.
  8. Your spouse will suspect you of having an affair with the mail carrier.
  9. You have a better chance of being struck by lightning will collecting on a winning lottery ticket than you have of making the best seller list.
  10. If you're ahead of your time, no one will know who you are until after you die.

Writing Most Fowl2 - by Terry Portillo

Two characteristics which distinguish writers from ordinary, pen-wielding mortals are vision and style. A dozen people standing on a street corner may witness the same event: let us say a chicken crossing a road. The eleven non-writers will view the chicken's crossing as a meaningless, mundane act. However the twelfth, the writer in the crowd, will see it as a rite of passage or as a window to some universal truth. To illustrate how an author's vision and style characterize his writing, below are some fowl adaptations of a dozen famous literary works, with my sincerest apologies to the original writers.

To cross or not to cross, that was the question. - William Shakespeare

When Mr. Bilbo Chicken of Fowl End announced that he would shortly celebrate his eleventy-first birthday by crossing the road, there was much talk and excitement in Henton. - J. R. Tolkien

Billy Chicken had become unstuck in time. - Kurt Vonnegurt

Last night I dreamt I crossed the road to Manderlay again. - Daphne DuMaurier

Cluck did not read the newspapers, or he would have known that trouble was brewing, not alone for himself, but for every chicken from Puget Sound to San Diego. - Jack London

The chicken with black feathers fled acros the road, and the Gunslinger followed. - Stephen King

Thou wast not born for death, immortal bird! No hungry vehicles tread thee down. - John Keats

You see a chicken who crosses the road and you ask, "Why?" I see a chicken who never crosses the road and I ask, "Why not?" - George Bernard Shaw

'Twas a far far better road I crossed than I had ever crossed before. - Charles Dickens

And the chicken, never flitting, still is sitting, still is sitting, on the shoulder of that road. - Edgar Allen Poe

His was not to reason why. His was but to do or die. Across the road raced the chicken. - Lord Alfred Tennyson

The houses are haunted by white chickens. None of them made it across the road. - Wallace Stevens

As soon as I put my work down, I race off to the theatre or go fishing, hoping to find a rest, but not at all... A new idea for a story comes rolling around in my head like a canon ball, and I'm back at my desk, and writing and writing and writing. And it's always like that, everlastingly. I have no rest from myself. . .

- Anton Chekov

I wonder if one has ever suffered so much from a book as I have from The Years. Once out I will never look at it again. It's like a long childbirth. Think of that summer, every morning a headache, and forcing myself in that room in my nightgown: and lying down after a page: and always with the certainty of failure. . . Never write a long book again. Yet I feel I shall write more fiction -- scenes will form. . .

- Virginia Woolf

1. Ten Reasons Not to Become a Writer" originally appeared in Working Writer (Summer 2004) and was reprinted in Authorship (Summer 2005).

2. "Writing Most Fowl" originally appeared in Working Writer (July/August 2005).

Terry Portillo © 1999