What is a ‘Hack’, and how do you identify one?

October 2, 2014

In accordance with my post yesterday (The Editing Process), I got a response (thanks, Pete!) that made me really think about it.  He broke it down for me. He told me that he might not be a writer, but that it was his experience which has taught him that it’s like a fine wine.

This was the perfect, most sensible metaphor for me. You have to let the grapes, the sugar, the pears…. whatever ingredients have you, ferment. you have to let them age, and allow the flavors to marry and intertwine, just like a good book. While I might have the main bits of the story down, he’s right. As I allow the story to ‘age’, I can come back to each tasting with a new, clean palette.

He went on to point out how  I seem “driven to accept whatever is on the computer screen as the finished product, why?”. Why indeed. This question also cleared up a lot of things for me in my mind. It pushed all of the gunk out of the  way and brought me to two conclusions: either outright laziness or plain old fear of success/failure. Perhaps I worry that if I look too deep into it I might realize I don’t have as much talent  as I thought! Or that I have more…it could go either way.

At any rate, ‘Pete’ thanks again for your insight, and perhaps this is something I will be able to keep in mind for the future!

So, you may now be wondering, “wtf”. That had nothing to do with ‘hacks’. And you’re obviously correct. However, the two might have something in common. Does one lead to the other? But…. what is a hack? Am I a hack? Because of my lazy/fearful editing?

Urban Dictionary says that a hack is “a person who is a professional at doing some sort of service, but does crappy work.

man, that tattoo shop is full of hacks.”

Online Slang Dictionary defines it as “an untalented professional.”


Does this mean that a person gets paid to be a screw up? Does this always have a negative connotation? And does it always mean untalented?It seems to.

But in a way, I also think it might be like beauty; in the eye of the  beholder. Different people like and enjoy different genres and styles of writing. Perhaps I have plenty of fans who adore the way I write my stories, when others might  call me … a *swallows hard* hack.

Some people might read the words of a ‘hack’ and be completely turned off; while others would mention how much potential the writer  has and how  much room they have to grow.

Which brings us to the  ‘if only they applied themselves’ bit.

We all have room to grow… some of us (like myself) stagnate. The question is… where can we get the necessary nourishment we need to do so? If you hadn’t noticed, some people tend to grow and spread… like weeds (think dandelions). Naturally. With only rain and sunlight. Rain being their talent and sunlight being the editor/publisher.

While others of us need more than that. We’re more fragile… perhaps our seeds had more difficulty sprouting the life of the words which spring from our fingertips… point being, we are also just as worthy as those who take off in a streak of fireworks. We just need a little more time; a little more work. a little more…  finesse

Whether it’s through the thousands of rejecting agents, editors and publishers, or the fact that our self-publishing efforts seem to go unnoticed, all of these things, while hurtful and dejecting, are kinda like the fertilizer (a buncha shit, in other words) helping us to grow. Sometimes it’s just too much, and we need that gardener….we need the constant validations, and self-edification to keep pushing forward, pressing against that seeds outer shell, or the hard, frosted ground above, or to clear away the weeds, so that our own inner stardom can shine.

Just because we’re doing “crappy” or shoddy work, doesn’t mean we’re worthless. It just means we’re the ones who need the most help, and to work the hardest.

That is… if this is what we really want.





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