Vital Signs

Exclusive: Writer's Mags Exposed

Who's responsible for all those "Writer's magazines"—Writer, Writer's Digest, Writer's Notebook, etc.—clogging the newsstands of Harvard Square? The unsuspecting peruser who comes to these periodicals seeking professional advice will be disappointed to find that they read like a cross between Norman Vincent Peale and Robotics Monthly. The truth is, writing is a rough and lonely trade and, as far as I'm concerned, the ilk of steely stoicism and treacly "inspiration" dished out by these rags just doesn't cut the mustard.

As a freelancer with a propensity toward self-destruction, I feel it is my duty to expose these journals and have therefore distilled a number of their typical stories down to a glistening pearl I call: "Clarence, Its Now or Never! (An Inspirational Yarn)."

"Growing up sixth in a Scotch Presbyterian family of 12 outside Home Fries, Pennsylvania, I didn't have much chance to think about what it meant to be an Artist; I was too busy fighting for haggis at the supper table. Like everyone in my family, it was expected that I would spend my life working in the local potato chip factory, raising an enormous and respectable family and serving as a lower-level functionary in the local church. But there was something different about me, even from the very beginning.

"As a toddler, I used to...

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