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11 reasons I couldn’t finish this node

A short manifesto

By Andy Cyca

For immediate release among the peoples of good will

May it help lost souls find their way among a sea of bad prose, poor journalism, deplorable editors, click-based editorial policies, wannabe writers that don’t apply their butts to their seats—hoping inspiration alone to be sufficient for that unique idea floating in their minds and editing be damned—, and clickbait. And spoiled seafood.
Hear hear!
  1. You are about to begin reading Andy Cyca’s new essay, «11 reasons I couldn’t finish this node—and why you can’t finish that damn manuscript either»

  2. Call me Andy. Some years ago—never mind how long precisely—having little or no interest in my job, and nothing particular to interest me on Reddit or Metafilter or HackerNews, I thought I would write about a little thing and see if the internet liked it.

    I created my blog and my «About» page. My blog was without form, and void; and spamming crawlers crawled upon the face of the World Wide Web. And the Aspiration of being a Writer moved upon the face of the waters. And I said «Let there be a "First post!»: and there it was.

  3. Now, I hold these truths to be self evident, that all «working title»-s, unnamed project-s and «to-be-titled»-s are created equal, that they are endowed by their creator with certain ideals of quality and desires of greatness, that among these are lively prose, liberty from clichés and the pursuit of a Pulitzer or Nobel.

  4. It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a human in possession of a good idea, must be in want of its release.

  5. All happy essays are alike; each unhappy essay is unhappy in its own way. I begin with writing the first sentence—and trusting to Almighty Eru Ilúvatar for the second. The third is often suggested by the Devil or a pressing need to use the restroom. The rest is silence, for inspiration only carries me so far. I must write without inspiration, for it’s a feeble power source.

  6. That bright Idea floating around your head? Your Idea is dead: to begin with. There is no doubt whatever about that. The register of its burial can be signed by the editor, the proofreader, the beta-reader, and any writer who has actually published in whatever form. Andy will sign it: and Andy’s name is good upon ’Net, for anything he chooses to put his hand to. Your precious little Idea is as dead as a door-nail.

    Mind! I don’t mean to say that I know, of my own knowledge, what there is particularly dead about a door-nail. I might have been inclined, myself, to regard a coffin-nail as the deadest piece of ironmongery in the trade. But the wisdom of our peers is in Wikipedia; and my non-bureaucrat hands shall not disturb it, or the ’Pedia’s done for. You will therefore permit me to repeat, emphatically, that your precious little Idea is as dead as a door-nail.

  7. I write this sitting in the porcelain throne. I write this sitting in the bus, on my phone’s note app. I write this sitting in my office cubicle, the Institute’s auditorium, the University’s cafeteria. I write this waiting for my date, waiting for the dentist, waiting for Steam to finish downloading and installing Civilization (but I don’t write this while playing it because I just need one more turn…)

  8. In my younger and more naive years my teacher gave me some advice that I’ve been turning over in my mind ever since. Whenever you feel like writing anything, he told me, just remember that all the people in this world have tried what you’ve tried and few have succeeded.

  9. If you really want to write about it, the first thing you’ll probably want to write is where your Character was born, and what their lousy childhood was like, and how their parents were occupied—or dead—, and all that David Copperfield kind of crap, but I don’t feel like reading it, if you want to know the truth. This will be your favorite book in all the world, though you have never even written it.

  10. All this happens, more or less. That’s why you can’t finish. Get writing.


Starting is easy, young man. Finishing’s harder!
A certain version of George Washington, probably (?)

  1. «If on a Winter’s Night a Traveler»
  2. «Moby Dick»; The Book of Genesis
  3. The [United States] Declaration of Independence
  4. «Pride and Prejudice»
  5. «Anna Karenina»; «The Life And Opinions Of Tristram Shandy, Gentleman»; «Hamlet»
  6. «A Christmas Carol»
  7. «I Capture The Castle»
  8. «The Great Gatsby»
  9. «The Catcher In The Rye»;«The Princess Bride»
  10. «Slaughterhouse-Five»

Thank you Stasik for the wonderful title and idea.