I’m a fan of quotations, aphorisms, epigrams and one-liners. If it can be said with brevity and wit, I’m game to hear it.
Professional wags like Woody Allen and Oscar Wilde have made a fine living doing as little writing as possible (between other, sizable contributions, of course).
We’ve all heard “that 90 percent of success is just showing up” and we also know “that the only thing worse than being talked about is not being talked about,” respectively.
There’s been an uptick in my awareness of quotes lately, not least of which because Twitter, say, lends itself quite well to the aphoristic tendency. Also, I have no damned time to read, let alone write, when I’m not reading and writing on the clock. Whenever I feel my blog is going a bit feral, instead of hunkering down and writing something long form – which at this point means a mere 200 to 300 words – I write a quote.
Admittedly, quoting oneself is the writer’s equivalent of posting a “selfie” on Instagram and calling it content. But when you’re pressed for time and you want your byline on something, a bit of pith and a long dash followed by one’s own name will suffice.
It may be a kind of autoplagiarism – a term I learned the definition of only recently. Back in the day, I thought it referred to stolen car designs, like in the 80s, when the Volkswagen Dasher and the Audi Fox looked suspiciously like the same car. Turns out they were. That lesson in branding stuck with me. Another is to keep publishing so as to keep my “brand awareness” up. If my schedule gets any tighter, I might have to ditch quotes and just graffiti my name as time permits.
Below is a selection of “quotes” written over the last few months and posted hither and yon on social networking sites. I’ve collected them here to provide context for future scholars of angst, since a quote is typically quoted from something and citing a Facebook post probably doesn’t fit the MLA style guide. Consider the following:
“Why do I write about myself? Being my own intellectual property is about as close to being an intellectual and owning property as I can get.”
“I suppose I could be more prolific as a writer but I write for slow readers, so what’s the rush? I’m a slow reader myself and I get stressed out when an author dashes off a whole series when I’m still trying to figure our what the hell Dick and Jane are doing.”
“Early in my career, I was a green reporter who wrote purple prose that read like yellow journalism. But they printed the paper in black and white, so no one ever noticed.”
“When you turn down a potential sidekick, do it gently. Otherwise you may create your own supervillain. That’s why I accept all applications. I even encourage my sidekicks to have sidekicks. It’s like a pyramid scheme for good guys.”
“I’m device agnostic. I don’t believe in devices but I don’t deny the possibility they exist. It’s similar in sentiment to the oft-bandied, ‘I’m not religious but I’m spiritual,’ which I always thought meant, ‘I have lots of candles and my apartment smells like incense and dogs.’”
On the future:
“In the deep future, alien archaeologists will visit a quiet, dead Earth and exhume countless greeting cards from the rubble. They will evaluate the treacly one-liners and sanctimonious couplets and, in a moment of cosmic bathos, conclude that ‘Hallmark’ must have been Earth’s poet laureate since his name is printed on all of them.”
The hazard of writing travel pieces for a time tourism blog: “Time machines. They get old fast.”
• • •
Daedalus Howell autoplagiarizes quotes from himself at DHowell.com.