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Week 389: An Ode to Cynicism, Good Stories and Dubious Advice Dispensed by A Herbivore


It’s hard for me to not be cynical; to not check every would be gift Horse’s bridgework; to not hold the suspicion that the evil that dwells in my heart must be in everyone else’s; to suspect myself for wanting the same evil in the hearts of others to license my own. Funny word cynical. As a belief system it prevents you from go-funding Phishy Royalty, yet in application it can aid you in successful phishing and lying in general. Thus you could say that cynical is a dubious, double-agent sort of concept.

Cynical ploys that should have long ago gone the way of the traveling medicine show quackery have never left because of our wildly out of control population problem. One isn’t born every minute any more—try ten. And even cynical observations made by intelligent people are not always to be trusted. I recall one of the late George Carlin’s missteps–he blamed the over population on Christianity–”go forth and multiply.” I’m not religious, but what he said hardly explained India and China. The worst part of it was the safety he assumed when saying it; it was toward the end when he had disciples who wouldn’t dare question his dogma, and the Catholic scandals made the church an easy target. I’ll say it: he stopped being dangerous somewhere along the way. In social commentary: Winners aren’t funny. Of course that’s just my opinion, and a cynical one at that.

But George was, at soul, a writer. For the most part brilliant; and he had the unusual capacity of getting away with informing a paying audience that it is composed of various pieces of shit, because, perhaps cynically, he knew that his mind was probably the fastest in the room. But writers, for the most part, are cynical. We are cats with thumbs. And being such we are not above successfully exploring for our own shortcomings in other writers, and many of us are not above exploiting fellow writers for profit. An excellent example of this is what happens when you google something along the line of “writing for profit.” (For those of you who’ve never done that and want to try, remember to stay cynical and “frosty”–and for the love of hell do not hit anything that’ll flood your inbox with spam, unless, of course, you are on a work computer.)

All kinds of cynicism there. Vanity publishers galore; Get Paid To Write come ons and all kinds of advice (not free advice, mind you) on how to market your genius. There’s one that finds a new way to worm its way into my email every so often, no matter what I do. I won’t name it, but imagine synonyms for “Shoeless, sockless scribe” and you will be close. This site might be the big break one is looking for, but it probably is just another scam set up by writers looking to make cash off hopeful writers.

So in the spirit of Never Play Cards With a Guy Named Doc; Never Eat at a Place Called Mom’s and Never Marry Someone Who Is Crazier Than You Are, I have come up with my three rule mode of submission engagement.

  • Never pay to submit (Unless a couple dollars or so to a known College press)
  • Never submit to someone who requires you to sign up for the “newsletter.”
  • Never pay to have your work critiqued unless you require insincere, smarmy flattery to feel better inside.

Though I am a cynic, I firmly believe that if you put in real work without an eye aimed at a market; submit to someone who doesn’t appear to be too good to be true, and don’t behave as though submission guidelines and such are for suckers, you will come out all right by and by. That’s one thing I truly believe, if you work honestly at something you are compelled to do in an elemental sort of way, something good will happen–as long as you can find good in a result that usually does not involve a check.


Except for the week’s first writer (a fiscal failure, destined for a pauper’s urn), I do not know if any of the writers this week make money from writing. But each one did land well this week, and it appears that each one created what they presented without a cynical eye cast elsewhere.

There are some wonderful ideas and characters put forward this week. Fortunately we can visit those as soon as Monday has its say.

I appeared on Monday. The Fifth billigit of the Apocalypse is what it is, whatever that might be. My only defense is that I want something in every story not likely ever seen before. If there are an infinite amount of stars in the universe, then there should be at least one “different” idea for each one.

Tone ruled Tuesday. First time contributor Kurt Hohmann struck a beautiful tone with The Visit. The voices of the two main characters are perfect for this mournful little piece whose effects are cumulative. Bits of information are released and the end arrives perfectly timed. It’s a fine little thing and we look forward to seeing more from Kurt.

Another site debut happened Wednesday, but fortunately we will not have to wait long to see the return of Ailbhe Curran–who will appear a second time later this month. Wicked Magdalene is told almost entirely in metaphor. Highly artistic it manages to get itself across clearly. An absolutely striking short piece that sticks with you long after reading.

Another writer we will not need to wait long to see back this month is Marco Etheridge, whose eighteenth appearance For the Love of a Three-Legged Horse introduces us to one of the more interesting and entertaining characters who has ever appeared on the site. Her attitude is priceless and you must wonder if her interrogators will ever be the same.

Shawn Eichman closed the week with his aptly titled Worth It. The piece is relevant but it also explores possibilities yet considered–and has a rare energy that carries it from start to finish. No matter how you are politically, you can draw something good from this bit of derring-do.


Hangovers are like solar systems–if you don’t like the one you are in, just refuel and proceed to the next. There’s that sweet open space in between systems where such concepts as responsibility and health cannot keep up with the warped drive achieved by repeatedly filled then emptied glasses. A strange special relativity, in which even stranger fancies arise, such as this closing bit which features my friend Daisy Cloverleaf the Pygmy Goatess and part time advice columnist.

Q: Dear Daisy,

I want to make BIG CA$H writing, for actually working (and/or being useful in some way) for a living has no appeal. I was considering a genre that was both insipid and poked fun at this publication’s guidelines, but thought better of it because maybe that gag has been choked to death (Get it? A gag choking to death–I knew I was brilliant!).

Hey! Maybe I can create a new genre–Cybercavedwellor or SteamChristian. I did consider having a vampire Jesus and Mary Magdalene performing Twilight, but ran into trouble when I realized there aren’t that many trees in the holy land.

People say you shouldn’t ask herbivores for advice, but I’m a bit in between ideas at the moment, so I thought I’d turn to you for career suggestions.


Cynical Cyndy

A: Dear Cyndy–

As I always advise humans who ask me questions, I strongly encourage you not to reproduce. For years your kind has averred spaying and neutering of innocent animals (unless they taste good) but are a bit hypocritical on your own accounts. Frankly, Cyndy, there are too many of you around, and you better believe that Mother Nature is simply biding her time before she does something about your race.

Both the Lord and Advice Columnists move in mysterious ways. And to move in those ways, both need cold hard “CA$H”–as you put it. For the best advice in genres, I recommend that you sign up for the Daisy Cloverleaf Life Lesson Learned Academy. Upon receiving your tuition, I will dispense both career advice and feedback for your work. The quality of the feedback is commensurate with the amount of money you care to invest in it.

I firmly believe in literary dreams, even though they typically have the lifespan of a Bronte sister.


Miss Daisy Cloverleaf


11 thoughts on “Week 389: An Ode to Cynicism, Good Stories and Dubious Advice Dispensed by A Herbivore”

  1. “I truly believe, if you work honestly at something you are compelled to do in an elemental sort of way, something good will happen…” That’s an excellent outlook. And I’m not being cynical.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I use your rules plus – No contests, no Shunn (the reader doesn’t need to be reminded every page of a six page strory what he is reading), don’t need conflict or protagonist or antagonist, … .
    Before I had Duotrope, I googled publishers. The first thousand* were vanity press. Have not paid to publsh (yet).

    My editor and better proportion says something like “Every problem is made worse by overpopulation”. Want less global storming – fewer people. Want less scarcity of resources – water, metals whatever – fewer people. Want less species extinction – fewer people. Want less war and general violence – fewer people. Want less starvation and hunger – fewer people. It would help if God would appear and let us know “Enough with the fruitful and multiply”. Non-Christian populations may want more people to be more powerful.

    *Unverified – probably lie or exaggeration.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Enjoyed reading this post and it’s darned good advice I reckon. It’s a sad thing that with everything one tries to do there is someone standing by who can’t or won’t do it but wants not only a bite of the pie but all of it and the plate as well. Taking advantage of a person’s hopes and dreams is a low and selfish act and I say a hex on all who want to ride on hopeful author coattails.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Thank you, Diane–
    Indeed there are parasites everywhere. Along with the great things provided by the internet, it has also been a boon to con artists. Still, people need to teach the kids about this sort of thing. Ripping off thine neighbor is hardly a new concept.


  5. I know people who self-published, often paying thousands of dollars. If it’s a legacy book you want to leave to your family, this may be an option. “I want something in every story not likely seen before,” That resonates with me. Everyone’s perceptions are individual, yet also similar… but how to express them in a unique style? Some people make custom furniture cabinets. I got my first “D” in woodwork, so I try with the writing. That was interesting about George Carlin and easy targets, often comedians make fun of themselves, like Woody Allen, but I haven’t heard of a writer doing this.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Hi Leila,
    Excellent post as always.
    It’s always a pleasure to read Miss Cloverleaf’s wisdom.
    Regarding the submission tips, you are spot on.
    I’d add –
    Write ten stories before you send one.


    1. Thank you, Hugh

      Daisy has appointed herself Director of NHS.
      In this case it stands for ‘Nuff Humans Society. She is willing to tolerate extant people, but ’nuff is ’nuff.


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