All Stories, Fantasy, General Fiction

Advice From the Otherside: How to Avoid Literary Success in Life and Be Considered a Genius in Death By The Late Judge Jasper P. Montague, Quillemender (Leila Allison)

But First a Word From Judge Montague’s Great-to-the-4th Granddaughter

Whenever a woman is constantly besieged by unseen faces and disembodied voices, it is for the best that she believes that the legions of non-violent hoo-doos and haints that only she experiences are real, and are not indicative of a mental illness (technical name for the affliction: scewious loosiest). Such is the case with Yours Truly. And although you may think that my thinking “it is for the best…” is misguided, I assure you that the hoo-doos and haints (whether they be actual or of my own creation) want only happiness for everyone.

With all that said it has come to pass that I give up my futile attempts to thwart the entry of the ghost of my great great great great grandfather, Judge Jasper P. Montague, into my Chromebook. The Judge was born more than two-hundred years ago and passed in 1906 at age 92 . After a seven year absence he is reluctant to discuss (I have the impression that sulphurous skies and howling apparitions were involved), he was redeposited on Earth and centered in a gold gilt presentation gavel, which was awarded him upon his retirement from the bench. The gavel currently sits atop my desk and is inscribed “Versatur Circa Quid”–which, roughly speaking, is Latin for “what comes around goes around.” Get used to “Versatur Circa Quid”; the Judge says it plenty.

The Supreme Bozo who runs this defective universe decided that “it is for the best…” that the Judge be passed down from generation to generation of his kin in the guise of his gold gilt gavel (from which his Spirit is allowed to travel ten paces). Moreover, the Supreme Bozo apparently must’ve found it amusing to transform the Judge into a highly specialized poltergeist known as a “Quillemender.” Quillemenders are able to covertly change the written word; they rearrange ink or type on paper –and even characters in an electronic file–into “interesting” shapes. Some of these shapes can bring trouble to the original author of the adulterated words. Imagine having to explain the transformation of an innocently written “I think you’re good luck” to “I know you’re an old fuck” to your boss sometime. And although this may come as a surprise, nobody ever believes me when I tell them that my emails and texts have been tampered with by a skullduggerous Quillemender.

Go figure.

Anyway, I’ve decided to allow the Judge to write his own stories and articles in my Chromebook on the condition that he let my stuff be. He is all for that; as all actors think they are directors, all Quillemenders believe that they are capable of moving more copy than Stephen King (I’d say the judge moves something, all right). What follows is the Judge’s contribution to a series of “How to/Self Help” articles written by him and dictated to him by a variety of other highly specialized poltergeist friends of his, all located at the Otherside of reality (whose names and such shall appear in future articles of the same flavor).

To date the Judge has sold three pieces to a penny-a-word publication. Although the money comes in via my PayPal account,  I always make certain that he gets every last cent of it. I placed a tip jar by his gavel, in which the $7.31 he has earned lies (all of it in pennies, per the Judge’s request–he’s more into quantity than quality). Maybe you can’t take it with you, but no one has ever said anything against you coming back to get it.

It is for the best that I now commend you to my favorite bombastic and oh so  egotistically dead rat bastard relative,  Judge.Jasper P. Montague.

Versatur Circa Quidly Yours,

Leila Allison


Behold: to-day a verdant bloom of good fortune is pushing up like a field of daisies beneath your feet;  for I, Judge Jasper P. Montague, Quillemender, have been selected to write the first in a series of “How To” articles that shall instruct living on how to improve their inevitable future in the field of daisy pushing-upping. My brilliant contribution is on the topic of literary success–specifically how to forestall such until after death. You see, I have been dead for a very long time, yet as a Quillemender ghost I specialize in the art of composition and know a thing or two on the topic of avoiding artistic success in life.

Versatur Circa Quid!

Few successful authors see an increase in their reputation after they have capped their pens for good. For every Hemingway, Dickens, Twain and so forth there are a million “Who the hell is that(s)?” in response to the mention of scribes such as Theodore Drieser, Wilkie Collins and Booth Tarkenton –even though these writers had enjoyed significant respect, sales and notoriety during their careers. Moreover, virtual unknowns in life, for example Kafka, Melville, Dickinson and Keats, have been nothing short of gold after they filled their graves.  Frankly, other than the Giants, most successful writers become dated within a generation after their demises and forgotten altogether within fifty years of their funerals. Of course this wouldn’t mean an additional teardrop to pain if oblivion followed existence; but as my deceased yet continuing magnificence proves, the mind never stops thinking, thus the ego never foregoes a stroking.

I ask “What ego needs a finer stroking than that of a writer who has written fifty novels, ten-thousand short stories, hundreds of poems and one unintelliable, peyote-fueled manifesto that inexplicably takes aim at prairie dogs, and yet has only earned five dollars for selling a plagiarized ‘fill’ to The Readers’ Digest in recompense?”  If you are a living writer and that which begins this paragraph accurately describes the state of your career,  you are in for the advice of a lifetime which shall be dear to you in the hereafter.

Versatur Circa Quid!

Naturally, there will be negative thinkers out there (“haters,” to use the modern idiom), who, upon reading this, will decry my advice and will go to special pains to point out that extolling the virtues of contrary, unprofessional and flat out antisocial behavior is akin to deliberately instructing someone to “take ten steps off a nine step pier” (to quote the idiom of my time). People like that fail to grasp the monumentally twisted beauty of the narcissistic personality–which, candidly. all practitioners of the arts must possess, to some degree, lest they would have never been moved toward creation at all.

This timely article takes (again, in the modern idiom) the holistic approach (the writer whom I routinely haunt, my great great great great granddaughter, refers to this as “the assholisitic approach”). I consider the whole of the failed genius, not just matters of form and behavior. In that regard I have divided the following information into two sections. Many of you will be surprised that I do not mention anything about the content of your actual writing at any place in this article. The reason for this is twofold:  1.) Deeds have nothing to do with the creation of a legend; 2.) I don’t want to read any of it.

Versatur Circa Quid!

Let us get to it!

Part One: Create a Personality Blackhole

The Sultan of the post-breathing geniuses is, rightfully, Mr. Wm. Shakespeare. Although the gent made a killing in show biz it’s most likely he went to his grave without any idea that he’d be endlessly slobbered over for centuries. Little is known about this fellow other than his writings–but consider this: Would you leave this begetter of thousands of honeyed verbal charms alone with your wife?  One suspects that he was probably more like Fallstaff than the reformed (thus infinitely dull) Prince Hal.

And what about horror master E.A. Poe, late of Baltimore. If you had been in that city during the middle of the nineteenth century you might have come across this post-life genius while he was in the throes of delirium tremens or whilst he was out back behind a “fancy house” rummaging through the rubbish for smokable cigar butts.

Unlike the unapproachable standards set by the gods and prophets, sinking to the behavior level of a literary genius is attainable. For reasons unknown, dead artists described as “difficult” attract fanbases more effectively than do the few who were/are considered “good people.” My great great great great granddaughter believes that this is true because it is easier for people to conceive Hell than it is for them to describe Heaven. This is  due, mainly, to her belief that most people are “assholes.” No matter how crudely she’d put it, there is great truth in that remark. With such in mind, I recommend that any living failed writer will benefit from the creation of a Personality Blackhole.

At the center of your Personality Blackhole must be an incomprehensibly dense ego supported only by its own delusions. Here, any comparison with your ego and the center of a celestial blackhole ends because the astronomical object devours everything including light whilst your ego rejects each and every atom of reality and sustains itself on an endless stream of self-written praise. You, sir or madam, are never wrong.

All together: Versatur Circa Quid!

Admittedly this isn’t the sort of attitude that attracts friends and sane lovers; in fact you’ll most likely be despised. But remember that you are in it for the long haul, the extremely long haul. Do as I instruct and you’ll be able to take heart in the likelihood that the ancestors of those persons who presently revile you will be lining up to lovingly sniff whatever literary feces you left in the Path of Life.

Once you have an effective Personality Blackhole set in place the way to post-life literary greatness becomes clear–if only in your own mind. Still, the work isn’t quite done. You will need some sort of hopeless addiction, a tendency to run out on bills, a panache of severe emotional problems, a “doormat significant other” (who must survive you to sow the seeds of your legend), and a goodish wallop of tuberculosis, if you can get it. Moreover, there must be a myriad of photographs of your tortured magnificence. Think about how you want to appear in posters on the dorm walls of the Liberal Arts students of the future. Never smile for the camera; feigned anguish sells. In recognition of the modern technology I also recommend that you download a daguerreotype app to give your visage an out of focus old time gravitas that most certainly will never be present in your face at any time or in any mood.

Remember: I believe in you! Stay paranoid and pathologically self involved!

Versatur Circa Quid!

Part Two: Rules Never Apply to You

There is a slight chance that the gibberish you produce might be of value. Almost certainly not, but since it is my wish that you keep reading this, let us pretend that you have the chops. True or not, it is for the best that you go to special precautions to prevent publication of your material in your lifetime (your doormat significant other will see to your canon after you pass from excessive masturbation). Since it is important to your legend that the stench of failure be associated with it, you must aggressively rely on the tenets of Versatur Circa Quid! and your Personality Blackhole to guide you through the unwanted chance of acceptance.

To accomplish this, I have selected the submission guidelines of a publication closely associated with my great great great great granddaughter, Literally Stories, UK, as an example for how the post-life genius you shall become should react to in an effort to secure the stench of failure. The key here is to carefully read the submission guidelines then behave as though you had never bothered to spare even the faintest glance at them.

 Versatur Circa Quid!

Word Limit: 500-3000: You might be surprised by the number of failed failed geniuses who either botch this easy step or behave passively when they encounter it.  These unfit failed failed geniuses think that 1 to 499 and 3001 and better is the same as blowing off the word limit, and they couldn’t be more wrong. The truly aggressive human blackhole will submit something no smaller than Moby Dick. Moreover, they will disregard the typical 12pt. single-spaced, standard font request and will present something composed from Klingon runes.

“You Will Hear From Us Within Three Weeks:” The dedicated Personality Blackhole knows there is no “U” in Me. This is where the tool lovingly known as “the bellicose email nag” comes in. After waiting an hour after you have made a submission to Literally Stories, UK, start the bellicose emails: “Why no answer? Isn’t my brilliance obvious, obtuse fool? Further delay will cause me to convert to Christianity, then I will know that there will be a hell for you to go when you die.” Although the preceding example is a lofty one, somehow escalate the interesting attitude in your bellicose emails, which you will send every four hours  

Every sterling publication has its own likes and dislikes. LS is no different. They despise Children (especially “clever” children), Mislabeled Lust (aka “Romance’), The Unexplained Talking Dead, Talking Dead Kangaroos Who Save Clever Children From the Bottom of Abandoned Wells and all persons previously, currently and in the future named Stephanie Meyer, in case they miss the right one. I recommend sending a photoshopped image of Ms. Meyer to Ed. H.Cron of Literally Stories, UK, and inscribe it: “Oooh, Hughey, you’re the ginchiest. XOXOXO…We’ll always have Tarbolton…”

Perfunctory Awkward Conclusion

As you see safeguarding your continued failure in life as to reap a great reward in the hereafter is a stern mistress. Mediocrity never feeds the bulldog. There, right there, back to the left…Say vague stuff like “Mediocrity never feeds the bulldog” when you no longer have anything to say and want to end the piece but have no idea how to do it.

Fortunately, I always have a way out:

Versatur Circa Quid!

Superiorally Yours,

Judge Jasper P. Montague


Leila Allison

Image –

3 thoughts on “Advice From the Otherside: How to Avoid Literary Success in Life and Be Considered a Genius in Death By The Late Judge Jasper P. Montague, Quillemender (Leila Allison)”

  1. Good fun, excellent narrative voice(s) and too many good lines (e.g. “The Sultan of the post-breathing geniuses”) to recount. My favorite bit of all is the reference to “Mediocrity never feeds the bulldog.” Sometimes I get to the end of a piece, and it has a vague ending that I suppose is supposed to make it “literary,” but leaves me thinking WTF.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Hi Leila,
    This was a lot of fun and we are delighted that our submission guidelines have been used in such a brilliant way! Normally folk only use them to ignore.
    And Tarbolton – What can I say – It’s the opposite of Brigadoon!
    I think we have a wee congratulations for you as (I think) this is story number 60! (Diane will kill me for using numbers but such an achievement doesn’t look this same when written sixty. There you go, two acknowledgements of reaching 60! (That’s now three!!!))
    Isn’t it fun using brackets inside brackets – It’s a bracket orgy.
    It is an absolute pleasure and privilege seeing your work on the site!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Amusingly true regarding the personality black hole writers. Most of them cared nothing for fame, like Kafka, I aspire to his type of nothingness. When he was dying he told his best friend “Burn all my work.” Indeed, it is easier for people to conceive hell than to describe heaven….Kafka was pretty much guilty of that. But also rather accurate. Some funny lines in the piece, it’s like an Anne Landers advice column for author adults. That was amusing about the submission guidelines.

    Liked by 1 person

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