Freelance penmonkey: a writer’s tongue in cheek self deprecation

Having published two novellas of my own (one as me, one under a psuedonym) I feel like with a few dozen sales under my belt, the third and fourth novellas on their way, I can sympathize and understand a bit more about the personality that goes along with being an author. It’s just a hobby for me, a way to soothe an itch I’ve had since childhood and I get a kick out of thinking that what I’ve written was not only purchased but perhaps, enjoyed as well. This guy, I’ve never read, he swears a lot and is probably NSFW on his writing style alone. *However*, the fact that I’ve never read the term ‘penmonkey’ before today forced me to share some thoughts and link to his work. I was giggling over just the descriptions of his posts – the contents of the one I read half way through was also entertaining though, well, not the kind of language you want to use in front of collegues or family. Well, most familys at any rate.

What does being a penmonkey have to do with internet marketing, startups or technology?

Simple: a post I read on Andrew Chen’s blog at one point referenced, “programmer seeks business monkey,” as there has been a frequent (his term) lack of respect in business circles for those who produce code, eg, things along the lines of a tumblr blog I read about “Wharton MBA seeks code monkey.” The whole meme is very disrespectful to every part of an organization’s staff, for many reasons. It does use some lightheartedness to explore the issue and remind us all that it’s a synergistic relationship we have with each other in a team, whether part of a larger organization or small one. You can’t build a great service with out “customer care monkeys” nor can you sell product without “sales monkeys” nor can the website exist in the first place without those “business monkeys” who put together the whole thing in the first place, whether they lacked engineering chops or not.

In learning how to write better, I’ve realized that there is a lot of synergy between public speaking, training sessions and telling a good story, whether it’s short or long, a novella or a brief two pager. The audience doesn’t care about your writing. They bought the book, downloaded the kindle or checked it out from the library because they expected to feel something. The work they are reading is supposed to give them an emotional reward: happiness, sadness, wonder, hope, terror, fear, betrayal, love or something else. They bought it on the recommendation they trusted, the review they read, or the reaction to the cover art. If the work lacks feeling, lacks emotional payoff, the reader feels cheated. I know I feel cheated if the book lacks emotional payoff; I’ve probably read north of a thousand books since middle school, when I discovered Allen Dean Foster, Piers Anthony and J.R.R. Tolkein.

Story telling is an ancient art. Back in the day, when cavemen grouped around the fire, frightened of what lurked in the dark, some joker, some wise guy or somebody with more guts than most would get up in front of the group and talk about the unknown. Or they would talk about the known, the familiar and the routine. By doing so, they’d build on the connection the cavemen (and women) already had with each other in that close knit circle. Even though we’re no longer huddled around the bright light of a fire, we’re reading, sharing and growing, together, under the bright light of a computer monitor, ipad, android phone or kindle device. I for one wish that we had more penmonkeys in the world, sharing their stories. The world would be a darker place without them.

PS: I’m reading “Poke the Box” next, even though I read Seth’s blog daily, it’s high time I get one of his works onto my kindle for my nighttime reading.