I’m delighted to introduce novelist Gene Rosen, who has penned an entertaining satirical story on the click bait articles we all fall victim to. You know the ones, “3 ways to get published in a week”, “5 tips to make you write like Orwell.” You click on them and learn sweet F.A. Enough of me, over to Gene.
It was a dreadful evening – freezing, rain, sleet, winds, snow. I had been invited to Listicles on it’s opening night – the new rage in late-night clubs. I tried to get out of the office, but people kept loading me up with work. Piles and piles. My new friends, all bloggers, kept calling.
“Where are you, man?”
“You’re missing the scene.”
“You’ll never believe who just showed up.”
“Your new life is before you.”
“We can’t wait forever.”
It was almost midnight when I decided “Screw this. If things work out tonight, I won’t be back tomorrow.”
I got to the metro station and couldn’t find my money. I couldn’t find my wallet. I knew there were at least one hundred cameras watching but I hopped the gate and ran to my platform.
And waited. And waited. And … what? The name of the station. They had changed it. In broad capital letters: C L I C K B A I T. What happened to Davenport? I couldn’t find a station guide, a rail map, or a human being for that matter.
Ah, but the train was finally coming. The bright beautiful light, the friendly noise of trusted mechanisms. My saviour.
It stopped but the doors stayed shut. There was nothing in the cars except white pages strewn everywhere. The car in front of me started to move.
“No no no no no . . .”
I couldn’t see the end of the train in either direction, car after car sliding by. It was now two in the morning. Snow was falling heavily, the wind spinning it around the platform. I was getting very cold.
“God thank you.” The train’s brakes squealed and the damn thing stopped, door’s opening. I got in. More papers now, everywhere and no seats. None.
I was so fatigued, I simply sat on the floor. The doors shut and I was off.
I thought I had a candy bar or two in my work bag. Nothing but a previously chewed wad of Black Jack. The train was going horribly slow. I decided to hike to the front of the thing and noticed I was walking faster than the train was moving.
Ten cars, fifteen, twenty. Hadn’t reached the driver booth yet. Then I noticed the words on one of the white pages littering the car. I picked it up.
It was a list.
It had my name on it.
My name on a list.
I started reading. . .
THE 10 FASTEST, MOST PROVEN, INCREDIBLY EFFECTIVE WAYS TO BECOME A GREAT WRITER.
- Get up at six every morning. If you normally get up at six, get up at 5. Better yet, never sleep.
- Write something every five minutes.
- Carry a belt of post-it notes and pens around your waist. When you have an idea, post it on a wall.
- Buy a bunch of white t-shirts and write inspiring quotes on them backwards so you can be encouraged getting dressed in the morning.
- Have a word count in mind before you write. Suggested range: 50 – 500,000.
- Set aside every other hour to procrastinate.
- Pick up ways to tell good stories – talk to drunks, the homeless, and people pointing weapons at you.
- Open your computer to a blank page and write 10,000 words daily.
- Write what you know: folding toilet paper, tying your shoes, or reciting the alphabet.
- Write simple in small sentences. Start with one-word sentences and grow from there.
GOOD LUCK AND GOOD WRITING.
I had found the Holy Grail. It wasn’t about meeting my blogger friends at Listicles after all. NO. It was about the journey. This Journey! And how much I had suffered to get here. In that station, on this train, in this car, with this list. Must be how James Patterson felt.
I looked through the windows as the train finally arrived at the station. Huh? This stop’s name had changed as well. F A I L U R E. F A I L U R E. F A I L U R E. F A I L U R E. Over and over as the train slowly came to a stop.
I grasped my beautiful, precious list and caught a reflection in the door window. Naked? Wait, what?
I looked at the oblong mirror above the doors. Holy Shit. Where are my clothes? My bag? My shoes?
There were two transit officers standing in front when the doors opened.
They reached in, grabbed, and pulled me onto the platform.
“I’ll take that,” said the big one, plucking the list from my grasp.
“No no no no no . . .”
“You’re illegally on this train so illegally in possession of that article. Pursuant to transit code 234-01-56-FU, all those scribblers caught not paying fares will be arrested and automatically remanded to the Hackington Prison for Profligate Writers,” said the small one, looking at my body.
“Where are your clothes, Mack? said the big one.
The small officer started smelling me.
A crowd formed; all revellers heading home from a night out. I reluctantly spotted my new blogger buddies.
“There he is. . .”
“And he’s nude as a newborn.”
“You missed the time of your life.”
“You’ll never have this opportunity again.”
“You’re done for.”
All the boisterous ravers got onboard. The paper mess was gone. The seats were restored. People were drinking champagne from paper cups. There were hors-d’oeuvres and pulsating music. Then my train left without me.
Just me and the two transit officers.
I looked down and had handcuffs on my wrists, a blanket around my privates.
As we walked across the platform to a waiting Hackington Prison van, I noticed the station name had changed to …
About the author
Gene Rosen is the guitarist next door. The novelist upstairs. The artist down the hall.
He’s an active blogger on Medium.com. Here are some of his most popular publications:
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