Header image  
Multi-award Winning author  
    home  |  paul barnett editorial  |  bibliography  |  the jg archive  |  store  |  paul's blog  |  links  |  places we like to visit  |  contact  

The Rottweiler Writers' Association

by John Grant

One of the great thing about e-mail is that the person you're corresponding with can't tell whether or not you're a rottweiler.

I hadn't fully appreciated the great benefits of this until a few days ago. It came about like this . . .

All over the internet there are — whether you write science fiction or history textbooks, pornography or auto maintenance manuals — professional writers' societies that you can join. I stress the word "you" here, because I'd discovered over several frustrating days that every single last one of those damned writers' societies has pettifogging qualifications they insist upon before you can actually sign up.

The most obnoxious of these qualifications is that, to become a fully paid-up member, you must have some money.

The end, so far as I was concerned, came with www.deadasadoornailwriters.com. The positive side of this association was that there was no subscription fee. The negative side was that, in order to join, you had to be dead — and preferably for several hundred years. Before I noticed this weasel qualification in the small print I'd had dreams of chewing the fat in chatrooms with illustrious DaaDWA members like Geoff Chaucer and Billie Shakespeare (hadn't realized he'd died — must have been recently and I missed it) and Jack Milton and Mick Cervantes and Chuck Dickens and all the others.

I looked at the window and thought about qualifying for membership, but decided that, while I prize my art as a writer above everything, I don't prize it quite that much. Besides, it'd be embarrassing to know the headlines would read FAMOUS EG COLUMNIST SPRAINS ANKLE JUMPING EIGHT FEET DOWN ONTO ROOF OF NEIGHBORING STRIP JOINT.

Still, dammit, I did want to join a professional writers' society. I am, after all, the consummate professional — well, I would be if EG ever paid me.

I decided to phone up a friend and ask for some advice. I take pride in the fact that, unlike disorganized people, I don't clutter up my private address book with all sorts of unnecessary phone numbers belonging to people you met once at a party and hopefully will never meet again — you know, the kind of people who, when you phone them up, say things like "Oh, it's you. You're the dirtbag who drunkenly crept up behind me and got his hand inextricably wedged in the back of my brassiere while I was being introduced to George W. Bush, then upchucked banana daiquiri all over my hookah. How the hell did you get this number? Fuck off, pervert!" and hang up on you. So it didn't take me long to decide that the best person to call was my good friend Dave Knuckle.

"Oh, it's you, dirtbag," he said from the igloo somewhere in Alaska where I finally tracked him down. "I can't speak long because the Feds are monitoring this line in hopes of tracing my whereabouts."

"Good of you to speak to me," I said.

"It's only because I don't wear a brassiere," he said.

I explained my problem.

He thought for a moment, then said: "There's one last possibility I know of . . ."

"Yes? Yes?"

"It's the Rottweiler Writers' Association. Membership is free."

"It's for Rottweilers?" I asked incredulously.

"Why not?"

"I didn't know Rottweilers could write," I said.

"Exactly," said Dave, beginning to sound as if the Alaskan cold were getting to him. "That's why two-thirds of the bestseller lists are filled up with books by Rottweilers. Look, dirtbag, I can't stand here chattering all night," either he or his teeth added. "I'da been gone already, tell you the truth, but I was having a pee against this here tree when the temperature suddenly dropped forty degrees."

"Oh, right. You got a URL for this . . . er . . . Rottweiler Writers' Association?"

"Use yahoo or lycos. Here's Myrtle with the ice-axe. Gotta go. Oh, one moment. She says she wants to speak to you."

There was a fumbling as he handed over the phone to this Myrtle, whoever she was, and then I heard her voice on the line.

"Oh, it's you," she said. "You're the dirtbag who drunkenly crept up behind me and got his hand inextricably wedged in the back of my brassiere while I was being introduced to George W. Bush, then upchucked banana daiquiri all over my hookah. How the hell did you get this number? Fuck off, pervert!"

She hung up.

Thanks to the magic of user-friendly AOL, it took me only an hour and a half and three computer crashes before I was typing my search in on my favorite search engine, www.dirtbag.com — I prefer it because of the excitement of their monthly Super Giveaway Lottery!!! whereby they give a million dollars and a pair of Britney Spears's underpants to someone who has the specially selected attribute of not being me.

And there was the URL! — www.ripyerthroatout.com. I clicked excitedly, then muttered a few cheerful cusswords as AOL crashed yet again.

By the following morning I was looking at the website I sought. I scanned the small print of the membership requirements.

1 All members must be Rottweilers.

Well, that was OK — as I said at the start, here was the great advantage of communicating solely by e-mail.

2 All members must be professional writers.

That was OK as well, with the proviso mentioned earlier.

3 Except members of the elected RWA Administrative Board, who it is recognized will have no time for writing because they will be constantly having secret discussions about how best to screw the ordinary members. Any ordinary members who dissent from this course of action, or who demand that said discussions be public, will be expelled from this Association or have their throats ripped out, or both.

4 Everything you read on the RWA site, dirtbag, is TOP SECRET, BY ORDER OF THE ADMINISTRATIVE BOARD. This is necessary because of 9/11.

Well, this was pretty acceptable as well. I mean, if it's supposed to be good enough for Congress and the Senate it should be good enough for me, right?

I began flitting about the site, taking a look at some of the regular features and benefits I would enjoy as a member, like annual conventions which would be totally free unless I went to them; details of the free elections of new Administrative Board members and the candidates we had to vote for; and a page or two about the Administrative Board's new transparency policy (which appeared to be that the Board was allowed to tell transparent lies and you got thrown out or dismembered if you didn't believe them).

There were also some handy writing tips, such as which editors to sleep with if you wanted to get published. As a consummate professional writer I was a trifle shocked by this, which seemed to me somehow corrupt. "I don't care if I never get published if it means having an editor who'll go to bed with just anybody," I thought as I jotted down the names and addresses.

And finally there was the site's Works In Progress By RWA Members Section. This was by far the largest area of the site — so large, in fact, that even if I'd not been using AOL's browser it'd have taken about twenty minutes for the index to load. "There must be a million books in here," I thought, settling myself for a good few hours of free reading.

When finally the index page had loaded, I discovered to my chagrin that all the works in progress were evidently legal thrillers a la John Grisham — and that the RWA members really had to do something about their titles. I mean, would you buy the new David Baldacci if it was called Spoonsleydale vs Bunwacket or Bankspargle vs Prin and Brivotski or Parker-Stubbins vs Mintdiaper? In point of fact, I wouldn't buy the new David Baldacci whatever its title, but that's not the issue: all the titles were dryasdust-seeming like that!

Still, as they say: the best thing to do with any organization is to reform from within. I clicked for the registration page and, after only a dozen or two 404 messages from AOL, found a form that I could fill in. I did have a moment's twinge of the ol' conscience as I solemnly declared that I was indeed a Rottweiler — I reminded myself to spray a few fire hydrants and maul a few toddlers the next time I went out to the post office so that my declaration would be almost true — but the rest of the form was a breeze, or would have been if it hadn't been for the distraction of the animated popup that kept appearing showing a leg being humped.

At the end of it I clicked the SUBMIT button, and lounged back in my chair filled with the satisfaction of a job well done.

I'll say something about the Rottweiler Writers' Association — their response time is fast.

Hardly a second can have gone by before a message from them came up on my screen.

Oh, it's you. You're the dirtbag who drunkenly crept up behind me and got his hand inextricably wedged in the back of my brassiere while I was being introduced to George W. Bush, then upchucked banana daiquiri all over my hookah. How the hell did you get this e-address? Fuck off, chihuahua!

The End