Making Life More Bearable

From Kurt Vonnegut's A Man Without a Country:

Here’s a lesson in creative writing. First rule, don’t use semicolons. They’re transvestite hermaphrodites representing absolutely nothing. All they do is show you’ve been to college. And I realize some of you might be having trouble trying to decide if I’m kidding or not. So from now on, I’ll tell you when I’m kidding.

For instance, Join the National Guard or the Marines and teach democracy. I’m kidding.

We’re about to be attacked by Al-Qaeda. Wave flags if you have them, that always seems to scare ‘em away. I’m kidding.

If you really want to hurt your parents and you don’t have the nerve to be gay, the least you can do is go into the arts. I’m not kidding.

The arts aren’t a way to make a living. They’re a very human way of making life more bearable. Practicing an art, no matter how well or badly, is a way to make your soul grow, for heaven’s sakes. Sing in the shower. Dance to the radio. Tell stories. Write a poem to a friend—even a lousy poem. Do it as well as you possibly can. You’ll get an enormous reward. You’ll have created something.