Courtesy terribleminds

I’m sure you’re familiar with treasure maps. They lay out the land for you. They show you a path to some sort of prize. They’ll tell you what dangers you will face. What they don’t tell you is what the treasure will actually be, or how valuable it will be to you.

Confessions of a Freelance Penmonkey is like that. Just imagine the treasure map is smelling faintly of booze, covered with profanity scrawled in Crayon and smeared with… …well, it’s smeared.

Kidding aside, it’s a valuable resource if you’re a writer or aspiring writer of any kind. Novelist? Magazine writer? Game developer? Postcard scribe? Coffee mug actualizer? Executive Vice President of Placemats? There’s something for you in this book.

(I said kidding aside, didn’t I? Dammit.)

Admittedly, the writing and advice of Chuck Wendig is infectious. This is a book that will make you laugh, make you think and make you question your own sanity. You’ll wonder if Chuck somehow crawled inside your head while he was writing Cannes-worthy screenplays and juggling his freelance gigs with the new baby his intrepid wife just had. Because a lot of his experiences feel like they are talking to or about you, personally.

At least, they do to me. So maybe I’m the crazy one. I’m sure some doctors would back that one up.

I could go through article by article, post by post, and tell you exactly what is in Confessions of a Freelance Penmonkey. But doing so would cheapen the experience. The journey laid out in its pages, a trail blazed in the posts of his terribleminds blog and bounced off of the rubbery brains of his peers, is one that should be taken (if possible) without preamble, explanation or tutorial save for the following: Get in, sit down, shut the fuck up and hang the fuck on. The book includes more notes on his thoughts, expansions and even reversals of his opinions, frank questions posed to the author and plenty of Chuck’s signature style. It will brighten some days, and others may quickly tire of it. Your mileage may vary, but the advice and anecdotes are more than the sum of their stylistic parts and worthy reading for any would-be author. It’s just hard to say how much each bit will help said would-be author, which again falls into that whole variable mileage thing.

The mind of a writer is a dark, confusing and occasionally frightening place. Chuck wades in with a knife between his teeth, a shotgun in one hand and a bottle of gin in the other. The path a writer must take to publication is fraught with danger and pitfalls. Chuck shows you how to sidestep the pits and tell the danger to fuck off home. The excuses of a writer that keeps them from writing are many and varied. Chuck demonstrates the proper technique in beating the shit out of those excuses with that bottle after you’ve drained it of its biting but somehow soothing contents.

Confessions of a Freelance Penmonkey is the writer’s life in microcosm. The insanity, the drive, the laughter and tears, the deepest valleys and the dizzying heights – Chuck Wendig covers it all and somehow emerges on the other side with a smile on his bearded face. If you have the wherewithal to pick out the gems that are missing from your experience, you can do the same. Hell, you might even grow a beard of your own while reading it, and for you lady writers, I apologize on Chuck’s behalf if you weren’t planning on growing one.

If you’re a writer, thinking of being a writer or wondering exactly why that writer you know is chained up in the corner frothing at the mouth and grumbling to himself about unicorn semen and candy-apple witch tits, you should already own Confessions of a Freelance Penmonkey. It’s a collection of advice, anecdotes and cautionary tales bound together by a love of the written word and the power of good booze.

Get it, and if you do so in actual print as opposed to some sort of electronic hoojeywhatsis, put it on the writing shelf next to Elements of Style. And let me know how that goes. I’m pretty sure Chuck can take those Strunk and White dudes in a fight.