The Wall of Shame Part 1: Dental insanity

Wailing Shabba's picture

“Most editors are failed writers, but then so are most writers.” – T.S. Eliot

I’ve always wanted to be a writer. It’s not something I felt, it’s something I knew. I was breaking down the stories of the Saturday cartoons as soon as I was old enough to follow them, trying to find their central theme, analyzing how the story progressed and characters were developed.

This manifested itself through story after story smudged across notebook paper through most of elementary and middle school. For the longest time, it was something I did automatically when there was nothing else to do. It was my default action, scribbling out a few lines of prose whenever I had a spare moment and a pencil. Then, these scribblings became stories. These stories became epics.

Then one day, it just stopped.

I moved down here with the intention of being a writer. There was a story that had been banging around in my head, and I wanted to put it down on paper and sell it. For the time I was writing it, it flowed through me, filling everything about my life. Writers will identify with the feeling; the way you view everything that happens to you through the lens of this imaginary tale you’re creating. It becomes your world, until you finally reach the ending.

I reached the ending of this particular story, and realized it was pretty awful. It was trite, it was cliché, it was everything I hated about modern storytelling. I was so betrayed that I did what every self-respecting writer does when he realizes he’s a hack: he becomes an editor.

My predecessor’s predecessor at the magazine where I work was also my brother, and when I joined on, he bequeathed to me a folder. This folder’s contents had previously been tacked up on what we simply called the Wall of Shame. And beyond being pure comic gold, it’s also become my security blanket. It shows me beyond a shadow of a doubt that I am not as bad a writer as I believe; that there are far worse out there.

Let me explain something to you: every year, a publication by the name of The Writer’s Market lists the name of every periodical, magazine, publisher and newspaper that accepts freelance work. Writers, wannabes and the deranged will flip through this massive book, print out 500 copies of their latest opus, and mail it out to whoever they think might print it. Some of them reach us, through our listing in the book, and they range from comedy gold to chilling cautionary tale. I’ve decided to start listing a few of them, from short stories to essays to poetry, for your general scorn and derision.

Plus, every one of these I read gives me that little bit of hope that maybe one day those floodgates will open back up, and I’ll finally start become a writer again. By the way, all typos, insane grammar and horrible punctuation are the fault of the original author, and are retained for authenticity.


The Wall of Shame, Volume 1



Name Witheld

What carries me away?
going to the dentist
doesn’t carry some people away
no one gets carried away
who abuses dental appointments?
maybe cleaning

I am not a complex person
but not a root canal
(This line is scratched out with magic marker – it actually says ‘but not a root canal’ again)
extract me
dentist’s aren’t simple
education carries them away
extract their degree
numb my brain
never cram a root canal
tests are extracting

I pay my dental bill
not my student loan
dental gold carries me away
caps carry me away
no one moves fast from the dental chair
I am too numbe to carry me away

What carries me away?

Getting up and changing the channel
no remote control
repeat news
and I am lazy
to get up and take a nap

Change the channel
saturday is like that
who changes the news?
I don’t miss anything
I thoroughly understand each story
deep thinking is a reason for not getting carried away

Someone took the time to write this, perhaps look it over, and then mail it to hundreds and hundreds of different publications across the country. And for reasons that might make a bad person, that helps me sleep at night.