Essentials of Asinine Writing*


by Shay Tasaday

Pick a subject and maybe put it in front of you. Like, if you're going to write about a comb, get out a comb. Maybe it's a dirty comb. Maybe it's clean. Maybe it's not even your comb. There's half a poem already.** Or you can just imagine the subject. Like that woman who told you never to call again. Write about her. The restraining order, everything. It could become a book.

Waiting for inspiration won't do. You have to jumpstart yourself, like a heart attack victim left alone in the ER with those paddle things. So: Imagine your parents over your shoulder, telling you how hard they slaved to put you through school, you good-for-nothing. Or pile up your bills right by your keyboard. $500 on Visa? How did that happen? This will get you started.

Grammer? Spelling? These are rigid chains forced on us by pedents. Break them. But a coma every once in a while is nice.

That's it. Just let it happen. Keep the fingers moving, type, type, type. Don't be stopped by doubts about your talent or fears about your mother reading this or the phone ringing or the phone, don't let it — Well, they pick the sweetest sounding women to be telemarketers. I just switched my phone company for the fourth time this week. — So, what have we learned? Oh yeah, let your ideas flow.

That's enough for now. Go take a nap. Use the couch, if only for variety's sake. You will not only be energized but also a nap will appease Morpheus, the Great God of Dreams. Some of our best ideas come from dreams, some of which are about your best friend naked and these can make you uncomfortable, but relax it's just a dream. When your lover or spouse comes home, don't mention this bit. The nap or the naked friend.

Is It Asinine?
Once you're up, read over what you've done so far. Ask yourself: Is it asinine enough? Does it approach the sliceslice knife-edge of complete stupidity and then jump over it with guileless abandon?*** Take a good look. Go ahead. Read it one more time to be sure. OK, that'll do. Well, chances are it really sucks. But don't throw it out. There is probably, just probably, a paragraph or a sentence or a phrase or a word that is exactly right. Save this and burn everything else immediately. Crap is crap.

Most modern writing, especially poetry, arises from a dry, academic maw. Like it's had too much chardonnay. What you read in most literary magazines is cold, distant, intellectual. Where is the fun? The simple joy of telling a story, relating an emotion? Asinine writing, on the other hand, is like a really good cheeseburger. Thinly sliced onions on top, some pickles on the side. And French fries. (But not the frozen kind. Those are like Eliot.) No, it's not really good for you, but it sure does go down easy.

Begin Again
Now take that great paragraph or sentence or phrase or word and have at it again. Type it over and over. Read it out loud. Admire it. Call up some friends, other writers who are stuck at home all day trying to grind it out, and read it to them. If they're on the ball, chances are they'll have something great to read to you. This is called a writing community. Which is nice, except when you start getting jealous of each other and stealing each other's best ideas and sleeping with each other's sisters. So hang up quickly and get back to work. Have another look at what you wrote. Isn't that beautiful? Maybe that's enough for one day.

Beliefs and Techniques for Asinine Prose and Poetry
List of Essentials
    1. Pencil, paper, erasers. Wait, no. Just get a computer.
    2. Eavesdrop everywhere. Your life is boring, use someone else's for material.
    3. Keep your nails clean.
    4. Don't get cable TV. It will entrap you.
    5. OK, if you get cable, try to limit yourself to a few channels.
    6. OK, if you have all the premium channels, then try to keep the volume down while you write.
    7. Get a lawyer.
    8. Get an agent.
    9. Have an angle. A pitch. Be able to reduce yourself to single sentence. ''Young upstart poet with beret.'' Maybe something more original than that. Make up your own, I won't do it for you.
    10. That girl in the office you want to fool around with. Go ahead.
    11. If you start with tequila, stay with tequila.
    12. Fear nothing. But use a condom.
    13. Type with one hand and not looking once in a while. Just for the hell of it.
    14. Dance with the devil in the pale moonlight.
    15. Admit that you enjoy disco music. Admit it!
    16. Don't shave often, but when you do, shave close.
    17. You're never gonna survive unless you get a little crazy.
    18. Believe in Crystal Lite and believe in you.****
    19. Just do it.****
    19. Twice a week, eat Mexican.*****
    20. Accept the fact of taxes.
    21. Once, just once, try sitting in a large bowl of chilled shrimp.******
    22. Is that enough?

*This essay was originally printed in Asinine Digest, May 14, 1997. Readers unfamiliar with the asinine movement on the last century may be unaware of who Tasaday is and his role in the movement. Some say he invented the term ''asinine poetry.'' Others, most vocally Houghton Piker (this site's founder), say Tasaday merely merchandised the idea of asinine poetry to its death. Critics agree, however, that Tasaday was a prime mover of asininity, and that this essay was a crucial crystallization of the form. Because of this, Piker allows this — and only this — sample of Tasaday's writing on the site. Piker, being Piker, could not help rebutting this essay with an essay of his own.
**Notoriously slothful, Tasaday actually did use this for a poem, which he called ''Comb Poem.''
***This sentence, which you may recognize from countless T-shirts, trading cards, and desk calendars, would haunt Tasaday throughout his career. As would the lady with the restraining order.
****It was Tasaday's vociferous endorsement of corporations and products, such as these for lemonade and sneakers, that caused his break from the main asinines.
*****Originally this was to read ''Asinine Poets quieran Taco Bell.'' But an endorsement deal with Taco Bell, in which the famous Taco Bell chihuahua was to wear a Shay Tasaday asinine beret™, fell through as this essay went to press.
******Not a tie-in to Red Lobster, as many have conjectured. Rather, a private passion of Tasaday's.


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