Judge Santiago Burdon

On an unseasonably cool July morning in Chicago, equivalent to David Copperfield, Judge Santiago Burdon was born on a Friday.  The Bronte sisters, Keats, Burns and especially Dickens inspired his study of English Literature. He attended Universities in the United States, London and Paris focusing his studies on Victorian novels and authors.

His short stories and poems have been featured in a variety of magazines, on-line zines and podcasts;  The Remnant Leaf, Stay Weird  and Keep Writing, The Dope Fiend Daily, Independent Writer’s Blog, Spillwords, The Beatnik Cowboy, Down in the Dirt Magazine, Eskimo Pie, The Stray Branch, Anti-Heroin Chic, Raven Cage, Horror Sleaze Trash, Across The Margin, The Story Pub, Punk Noir, Synchronized Chaos, Mad Swirl,  to list a few. Judge was named in 2020 edition of “Who’s Who of Emerging Writers. “

 His first book, “Stray Dogs and Deuces Wild Cautionary Tales” was published in January 2020 by HST Press, his second is due out May of 2021. There is also a book of poetry “Not Real Poetry” planned for publication in December. He is presently engaged in finishing his novel “Imitation of Myself.” A non-fiction story detailing  his experiences as a drug runner for a Mexican Cartel. Judge celebrated his 67th birthday last July and lives modestly in Costa Rica.

          Never Take A Mimes Word For It

I was invited by an acquaintance I’ve known for years to speak on the subject of becoming a writer to her High School Creative Writing honors class. I had two books published at the time and I assumed she thought I must know a thing or two about the process.  Let me give you the lowdown. I don’t have the slightest idea what it takes to be a writer or being a creative writer.   But she and her husband were a couple my former wife and I had spent a great amount of time with when I was married.  Somehow I felt a bit obligated to help out.

I accepted the invitation but found out she wanted me

 to give my lecture the next day.  I had no idea of what I was going to say to the class.

The morning  raced in as though it was running late for an appointment. I became stressed over what to wear. Jeans with a white shirt, no tie and my favorite tan blazer was the choice.  The outfit I thought gave me the appearance of a distinguished yet bohemian author.

Then I reprimanded myself for being self-conscious about my appearance for a bunch of high school students. 

I greeted the class of unenthusiastic faces with a spirited introduction of who I was. Which did little to affect the mood of the honors class.  After my short bio I pulled out some of my books for the honors students, who seemed quite eager to get their hands on them. I had brought more than enough to gift the entire class of fourteen.

I began my presentation with a question, hoping it would cause the students to participate. A method of capturing their interest I learned from a Marketing Strategies class I took in College.

“Who here intends to pursue a career as a  writer or author?” Four hands popped up.

“That’s great. Now allow me to share with you what I believe it takes to   be a successful writer. To be perfectly up front, I don’t have the slightest inclination about the do’s and don’ts of being a writer.

I however do believe if you want to be an accomplished writer, you’ve got to be a good liar. I’m not talking about slight embellishment, I’m saying you’ve got to be able to shovel bullshit by the truckload. And the real trick is you’ve got to spread it so the reader can’t smell it. If they get the slightest whiff of bullshit you’re done.”  

“Wait a second. So you’re saying a good writer must be deceptive and dishonest?” 

The bookworm girl in front with thick glasses asks.

“When in the Hell did you hear me say that? Do you believe lying is a deceptive or dishonest act?  Do you know who Diogenes was? He was an ancient Greek philosopher whose writings were destroyed. He lived  in a barrel with his scraggly dog in Corinth, homeless and destitute.  It’s said he searched with a lantern both night and day throughout the city, looking to find an honest man. The result was that no such person existed. We all have our own concept of what is considered to be honest. Lying is a common and necessary practice that in some instances has a positive purpose. It’s most likely the reason Diogenes is considered the father of cynicism. “

“Now what  you’re saying is that being a liar and deceitful is actually a virtuous practice?” “When did you hear me say that? You’re misinterpreting my point because of your inability to consider there could possibly be another school of thought pertaining to the subject.  

Tell me, are you an honest person? Are you always truthful? It’s impossible to answer yes to those questions. What an incredible contradiction it is that we’re given rules and regulations to obey, preached to us by others that know their rules are impossible to follow. It’s a study in mental masturbation.  

You mentioned virtue, meaning ethical, moral, or honorable I think?  These are all characteristics  we must have to be considered  ethical human beings. Actually everyone and I mean everyone, is under the impression they’ve been granted dispensation from following such rules. Yet they expect others to conduct themselves in accordance with the commandment. Are you familiar with the idiom ‘Honesty is the best policy?’ Tell me for whom? Who does this best policy of honesty benefit?  Is it the one divulging their version of what they believe their truth to be?  Or is it the one being told what they must determine as honesty,  by their understanding of what the word means ?  Everyone has their own definition of honesty. If you sincerely believe you are honest, virtuous, truthful and moral, then you most likely believe in the ridiculous concept of unconditional love.

What  I’m attempting to put across to you is that you’ve gotta create a story that is interesting and filled with emotion, causing the reader to connect with the world and characters you’ve created. Make them bleed with anticipation while turning the page.  You’ve got to grab the reader by their pubic hairs and keep their attention.”

“Santiago I think your choice of words aren’t suited for a teenage audience. Please keep it PG “

” You’re right, what the hell is wrong with me. I apologize class. I had my doubts about smoking that roach on my way here this morning.”

A burst of laughter from the students filled the classroom.

I felt a little embarrassed sharing that information. Sometimes words slip off of my Teflon tongue before my brain has a chance to evaluate their implications.

“Please Santiago don’t refer to drug use or use any more profanity.”

“Of course Mrs. Pillion  My sincere apologies. Now where was I?”

“You were smoking dope on your way here this morning.” A voice  from the back of the class shouts.

 Again a chorus of laughter sings out this time including me.   

“Okay traviesos help me out here. You’re going to get me busted. Now I’ve been told there are no new ideas. Accepting that fact to be true, it’s necessary to dress your story in different clothes. Give it a new look, a different voice, a new name. Introduce it as if the plot has never been on a date before. However, it doesn’t necessarily mean it’s still a virgin.” 

“Is there any other questionable advice you have for someone wanting to be a writer?”  Mrs. Pillion asks.

“Yes, as matter of fact I do. 

I’d like to leave you with a few suggestions you may want to consider.

1.Make sure you have a mirror available so you can watch yourself starve to death. 

2. Write about what it is you know. 

3.Just because it happened to you doesn’t make it interesting.

4. Fuck what other people say. 

5. Don’t criticize your work. There’s plenty of assholes in the world that will do it for you.

6. When you feel uninspired remember: It could be worse, it could be raining.

7. Love what you do and you’ll never work a day in your life.

And lastly: Never take a Mime’s word for it.”

” Santiago please! That’s enough for today. Thank you for your insightful information.”

I could barely hear her over the thunderous applause from the students and also giving me a standing ovation. I was a hit.

A couple of weeks later talking with my former wife,  she mentioned the consequence of my lecture to the Creative Writing class.

” Did you know Allison was suspended for two weeks by the School Board because parents complained about her allowing you to give your books  to the students. They were upset and quite angry pointing out your stories were disturbing, pornographic and obscene. Definitely not proper reading material for High School students.  They were considering having you charged with contributing to the delinquency of a minor.”

“So what, you’re saying is they   didn’t like my books?”

“What is wrong with you? You  burnt yourself out on too many drugs. Did you understand anything I said?  Oh ya, there was even a story about your lecture in the local newspaper.”

” So they did like my stories! I knew it.”

” Santiago, you’re a real piece of work.”

     

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