Guest contributor: John Lane

Bad Advice Wednesday: A List From John Lane

categories: Cocktail Hour


John Lane’s Bad Advice
1. Don’t follow your bliss.
2. Don’t always write about what you know.
3. Never believe there’s a light at the end of the tunnel.
4. Don’t wait for the Luck Bus.
5. Never expect a promotion with that MFA.
6. Don’t invest in plastics in spite of the current nostalgia for Simon & Garfunkel.
7. Practice brevity, especially when it comes to introductions.
8. Ignore the prizes and dream only of swimming with Keats.
9. As Isaac Denison so famously said, Write every day without hope and without despair.
10. If you break it, you buy it.
11. Never lie about the truth.
12. Feelings can be rented. You don’t have to own them.
13. If you want to acquire a dog make it a low maintenance one.
14. The New Yorker’s jokes are better when the issues pile up.
15. Don’t believe there will be cell towers on Mt. Parnassus.
16. Yes, Kerouac did die unhappy, but his heirs are not.
17. Don’t buy too many envelopes, even if they are on sale.
18. If you purchase first class stamps make sure they are eternal.
19. “Don’t let it sleep in the house” doesn’t work with email.
20. ABC. Mamet’s “Always be closing.”
21. Save the few letters you get for any available archive.
22. What’s published on line stays on line.
23. Lay your dreams to rest and you’ll come in second.
24. Unlike yogurt, literature never expires.
25. There are only two types of river stories: upstream and down.
26. Talking animals are hard to pull off.
27. Read The Odyssey again.
28. Holiday stories usually disappoint.
29. Don’t call “Eleanor Rigby” a poem.
30. Measure twice and cut once still works.

  1. Bill writes:

    Great drawing, Dave.

  2. Bill writes:

    these are great, John. I’m just worried about #25, because a friend of mine who is a great writer jumped into the river here in winter to save her dog and would have died except for a couple of kids came along and were able to get help in time. That’s just a middle-of-river story, no up or down…

  3. John Jack writes:

    Great list, every one of which from personal experience I’m comfortable asserting is virtuous bad advice

    XXXI. Much can be said about the persuasive appelas of understatement.

  4. john lane writes:

    Glad people are enjoying my advice!

  5. George de Gramont writes:

    Thanks for introducing us to John Lane. Good Guy. My favorite is is #9 & I’m not even a writer.

  6. nina writes:

    I love #23. I’m going to write it on the board today in my Senior Seminar. And Hadley would debate you strenuously on #26!