Skip to main content

The Apostle's Screed


  1. A long speech or piece of writing, typically one regarded as tedious.
  2. A lengthy piece of writing; a discourse or harangue.

The majority of my editing assignments are academic works, generally masters theses or doctoral dissertations by students with minimal writing skills and/or have English as their second language. Though these works keep me adequately employed, they are not exactly enjoyable, particularly the ones about science or technology. Let's just say I drink a lot of coffee for those.

But every now and again I will be blessed with editing someone's "book" they want published. These are generally poorly written works of non-fiction that can be described as screeds, that is, long diatribes on what they see as wrong with the world. If only people would listen to the author, the world would be all better. Some of the screed topics I have had the pleasure of editing are:

  • Miscegenation and interracial marriages are entirely to blame for poverty, AIDS, political corruption, and child abuse. The planet should be strictly segregated by race.
  • Male homosexuality is a direct result of Satanic influence and gays should report for exorcism at their nearest Catholic parrish. Female homosexuality is not real, just natural female timidity and nervousness about male sexuality. 
  • And my favorite: The Anti-Christ described in the Bible is actually not a person, but an organization: The Mormon church. They are here to take over the world and steal our souls.
Now of course these are the more outrageous examples. Most of them are more benign ramblings and circular arguments. I have never been moved to compose a work of non-fiction, other than short essays assigned in class. So perhaps I am not the best one to ponder this phenomenon. But I wonder what inspires this kind of nonsense.

Of course we don't have to look far to find their inspiration. Politicians and political pundits have been publishing books like this for years, and they've increased in frequency. They don't seek to raise awareness of an important issue (Drift by Rachel Maddow), nor do they long to set the record straight (In Retrospect: The Tragedy and Lessons of Vietnam by Robert McNamara). They are simply lengthy diatribes about what is wrong with them and what is right with us (see anything by Glen Beck or Ann Coulter).

My beef with works like this (even on the rare occasion I agree with the author) is that they are an insult to those writers who actually take the work seriously. Whether writing a graphic novel, a children's book, a literary novel about geese in communist Russia, or a memoir of their father, real writers everywhere agonize over the work every day, wanting it to be better, wanting to draw the reader into the story. The strength of the overall story is what is important. The people who pump out these thoughtless screeds are not concerned about the work, or even their reader. They are concerned only about validating themselves and making sure everyone knows how awesome and smart they are. This is the literary version of the aspiring reality show star, and they are part of the problem when it comes to the reputation of the self-published author.

Sadly there is not much we can do about this, any more than we can stem the tide of teenagers (and sadly, adults) doing silly things for a shot at being on MTV. All I or any of us can do is salute those writers of non fiction who do it for the right reasons and do it well.


Popular posts from this blog

On Psychopaths - Part 2 of my Daredevil Review

I will start this review with a mandatory disclosure: I love me some Vinnie D. That's Vincent D'Onofrio to you normal folks. I love him in everything he has ever done. I loved him as the sweet yet prideful young man in Mystic Pizza, I loved him in his small role as "Thor" in Adventures of Babysitting, I loved him when he wore an Edgar suit in Men in Black, and I loved him the mostest in Law & Order: Criminal Intent. So while I'll be telling you the strengths and weaknesses of the show, don't be concerned when I seem to love the villain more than the hero.

Though Kingpin AKA Wilson Fisk had a small cameo in the Defenders, Season 3 of Daredevil marked his triumphant return to the status of Big Bad. And make no mistake, Wilson Fisk is as Big and Bad as they come. Obey him or he will kill you. Though he might kill you even if you do obey him. Hypothetically, he might savagely crush your head in if you are simply the bearer of bad news. Hypothetically.


On Faith - Part One of my Daredevil Review

"I would rather die as Daredevil than live as Matt Murdock."

As I mentioned in my review of Daredevil Season 2,  I love this show, so I didn't want to simply write another review. Instead, I chose to write three articles on what I saw as the three main strengths of this season: its honest depiction or faith and the struggles of mere mortals to live it; the effects of psychopathy and the morality of treating people who have it; and the ability of friendships to fill the hole left by a missing family. In my Season 2 review, I mentioned how the show's writers have stayed true to the spirit of the comic in their characters, in the actors they cast, and the direction of the plot. Season 3 begins with another strong and unapologetic nod to the original comic: its focus on Matt's faith, or in this case, his loss of it.

In the last episode of The Defenders, a building fell directly on top of Matt Murdock, AKA Daredevil, as well as Elektra, the love of his life whose sou…

Moral Quagmires when on the Job

Ask a Manager is one of the very few blogs I follow. I check it every single day, delighting in the professional debacles the letter writers find themselves in. Unfailingly, Allison provides spot-on advice, emphasizing professional norms, office culture, and employment law in her responses. To be honest, her site is the reason I made Tess, the protagonist of my upcoming novella, an HR rep. I've never worked in HR, so reading Allison's site and seeing the absolutely unthinkable behavior of some employers made me grateful for literally every job I've ever had. Even the awful ones, because they were still better than some of these poor people's jobs. Don't believe me? A boss directed an employee, on pain of being fired, to leave a note at a grave for a worker who was on bereavement leave. Yeah, someone actually did that.

On the July 10 post, something unusual happened: I disagreed with Allison's advice. You can see the hyperlink, so please read it for yourself, b…