You Enter With a Skull Full of Mush; You Exit as a Corpse or a Writer
by Jock Stewart
Junction City, TX, January 6, 2012 (Star-Gazer News Service)—Rhett Radley fully expects 98.6% of the raw wanabees who enter Wordsmith Perdition University (WPU) to die trying.
“Every Gomer Pyle in the world wants to be a writer,” smirked Radley, who found his favorite expressions while serving as a Marine drill instructor at Parris Island. “They can’t even spell ‘Ooh-rah,’ much less use it in a coherent sentence.”
Radley, who “double-dog dares” students to say “boo” to him, plans to run WPU like a bad neighborhood on a Saturday night when it opens its gates February 29.
According to informed sources who give their names as Tom, Dick and Harry, the 1.4% of the students who survived WPU’s beta test courses held in Florida’s notorious Tate’s Hell Swamp during the snake season, went on to become bestselling authors making “exorbitant amounts of money.”
“When authors leave WPU, they are who we say they are,” Tom said. “For legal reasons, the grammar-loving writers of fortune who walk out our doors will have no memory of ever having been here.”
The Slammer Connection
While many of the university’s Tough-Love Instructors (TLIS) are currently serving time at the nearby State Pen 666, most of them have promised not to commit any really bad crimes while teaching the basic noun, verb and preposition courses.
State Pen warden Rod Curtain admitted during a recent grand jury probe of the prison’s work-release programs that there “are always risks” when experimenting with new rehabilitation methods.
“You’d think most of the cons are going to teach students the True Crime Genre,” said Curtain. “Not so because, you see, most of them are innocent.”
According to WPU’s public information director, Brenda Starr—who still claims that “A comics page without me would be a felony.”—said that the registrar’s office has been swamped with applications “even though the ads in the Star-Gazer and the Chronicle of Higher Education make WPU sound like a scary place.”
“Our core courses have captured the imagination of every Tom, Dick and Harry out there who has realized he’s a failure with nothing left to do with his life but become an author,” Starr said.
- 101 – Show, Don’t Tell, Big Yard Table #1 – Only a dirty rat tells anybody anything.
- 102 – Kiss Your Muse Goodbye, Solitary Cell Block – Muses and other nonsense are for the Pepsi Generation while real writers find inspiration in a bottle.
- 201 – Writing Prompts, Big Yard Table #2 – Recruits quickly learn that “what I did on my summer vacation” isn’t as good a writing prompt as a kick in the ass.
- 202 – Writing Style, Intensive Management Unit – “Without style, you’re never going to score,” according to lead instructor Charles Jones.
- 301 – Sleeping With Agents and Publishers, Bone Yard – “If you can’t score, it won’t matter if you have any style,” according to Radley.
- 401 -Parallel Structure, Big Yard Tables #4 and #5 – Like a Modus operandi, keeping everything lined up helps readers know where your story is.
During the first month of training, recruits are limited to a bread and water diet because Radley thinks low rations help weed out the prima donnas who think all writers live charmed lives “like those celebrity authors on Entertainment Tonight.”
“Every time a recruit writes a proper sentence without requiring a kick in the ass, we throw a piece of raw meat into the classroom,” Starr said.
Writers who survive the heady days of obstacle courses, long hikes and live fire training on starvation rations, move into the tenderfoot class with cafeteria privileges that allow them to take all they want as long as they eat all they take.
Outsourced to the State Pen 666 prison kitchen, the food is guaranteed to include entrées from the most inspiring food groups along with all the pruno (prison wine) a student can drink. Tenderfeet discovering any outlawed materials (files, hacksaws, shivs, or explosives) in cakes, mashed potatoes, and beef hash, are expected to inform the nearest guard and show rather than tell.
Jobs for a Depressed Area
Not counting the cons from State Pen 666, WPU is expected to hire at least 500 “regular people” to help school wannabes about the realities of plots, subplots and maguffins.
“Jobs are more effective than Paxil and Zoloft in curing what ails this little town,” said Mayor Clark Trail.
An unauthorized city hall spokesman told reporters that Trail plans to audit course 301 in hopes of discovering how to fast track his as yet unpublished memoir Looking For Bribery in All the Wrong Places to the powers that be at a Big New York Publisher.
Local authorities expect a decrease in crime throughout the Junction City metro area once WPU is up and running.
“After all,” said Chief Kruller of the JCPD, “idle hands are devil’s tools.”
Starr told local area educators that WPU “paid off somebody” to facilitate accreditation.
“Being on the up and up at a place like this is fiction we can live with and take to the bank,” Starr said.
Jock Stewart is an investigative reporter for the Junction City Star-Gazer and the author of the highly addictive Jock Talks…Outlandish Happenings and Jock Talks…Strange People that are available on Kindle for only 99 cents.