You've all heard someone react to a dumb Top 40 song or teen movie by saying, "Man, anybody could write that junk." Which raises an interesting question: Can just "anybody" step into the schlock-art batter's box and rap out a hit? Could you climb out of bed tomorrow and write a viable John Davidson ballad or "Porky's" sequel? Could you, even if you've had formal art training, produce salable "sad clown" and "saucer-eyed kitten" oil paintings? Could you cut it as a romance writer, klompen dancer or Vegas act?

Maybe you could. All I'm saying is: You might have to put a little more heart in it than you think, because I believe that even at its lowest levels, art requires the trembling touch of the sincere hand -- someone who believes in the material, lives it and loves it. I've argued this for years, but I've never thought of a way to prove it. That is, until now. Here's what happened. Last week I was at a newsstand browsing through the special-interest magazines -- you know, Avocado Grower, Coin World -- when I noticed that many run fiction geared to their readers' arcane interests. It was very depressing. I don't know about you, but to me, short stories that dramatize the therapeutic effects of a new parakeet or the ineffable rewards of van airbrushing are about as sad as it gets.

And that's when it hit me: If it's true that schlock art doesn't require its own special talent, shouldn't I be able to pick any one of these magazines, study it and then write and sell a short story to its editors? Yes, I should. And I know what you're thinking. To prove my point, I must fail to get my story published. Isn't that a built-in conflict of interest? What's to guarantee that I'll try hard?

I'll tell you what: a little thing I call professional pride.

It was in this spirit that I gave very serious thought to my magazine choice. The early leader was Action Pursuit Games, a new magazine for those Rambo jerks who run around in the woods shooting one another with paint bullets. Pretty bad, all right, but I had to reject it when I realized that the action scenes (and what other kinds of scenes could there be?) would be hopelessly dull: "Derek, clad in all-season Combat Cloth camos and UVEX Ultra Spec 200 Eye Armor, jumped out of the bushes, yelled 'Yaaaaah!,' and fired two yellow Nel-Spot pellets at his foe, on whom they splotched with fearsome report . . ." Cat Fancy came close, but I just didn't think I could do much with a protagonist named Tigger or Mr. Puff.

No, though I knew various editors around here would say "& $&! Enough already!," I had to go with my favorite magazine, good ol' Outlaw Biker. After all, what magazine would I have a better chance of faking out? I'm enormously well versed in "the literature" -- I've been a student of biker fiction for seven years.

Using my familiarity with this subject matter and mimic-writing techniques that I developed years ago, I easily produced a passable (but, I hope, not publishable!) biker-genre story. The main thing I had to keep in mind was: Don't reinvent the wheel. With biker fiction -- indeed, with all specialty fiction -- there are oodles of already-written stories out there just waiting to be imitated. Though it was tempting to use some of the sparkling phrases I encountered, it was important to avoid plagiarism charges. This was easy. All it took was common-sense tinkering. For example, my story has a scene in which a big-mouthed Young Biker gets put in his place by a grizzled Old Biker. I took the original phrasing -- "Boy, I wuz straddlin' Harley-Davidson iron before you wuz a bad idea in your daddy's britches" -- and I converted it to the equally fine: "Sonny, I was throttlin' a knucklehead before you wuz big enough to stand eyeball-to-belt-buckle with a midget."

The same principles applied when I worked on the story's nuts and bolts. To get my characters, plots, themes and motifs, I rounded up a bunch of magazines and started borrowing.

Characters was the easiest category, because 99 percent of biker stories have exactly the same hero. Variously named Tramp, Rabbit, Dirty Pete, Spider or Booger, he has these identifying characteristics. An imposing physical presence that, oddly, doesn't involve the massive amount of blubber that most real bikers tote around. Rampant sentimentalism about Harleys and biker children. ("My boy, Little Tramp, was proud -- from his dirty Levi's to his cutoff jacket with its 'Budweiser Powered' patch on the back -- and he'd got hisself in a fight at school 'cuz some kid yelled, 'Hey! bike bum's son!' ") And, finally, a disturbing disrespect in regard to women. ("Snake's ol' lady was so ugly that when they {made love}, Snake had to put a paper bag on his head, too -- in case hers broke.")

Themes and plots aren't too complex, either. Like Greek tragedy, biker stories follow rigid patterns. Unlike Greek tragedy heroes, biker characters never get "humbled." Instead, they usually ride off into the sunset feeling satisfied, beat somebody up or pass out. The "theme" is almost always: We bikers think we're bad, and we're right. The standard plots used to explain this are the Quest to Recover a Stolen Scoot, Initiation Rites, Weekend Run, Biker Wronged by Cops or Mystical Encounters. I picked the last one because it gave me the opportunity to use the hoariest plot rip-off of them all: The Faust Myth. My story opens like so.

"Brinnngg. Brinnngg. 'Wha? Who? . . . Oh, maaaan, Monday.' Big Wally, his eyes still glued shut, woke up with a slamming headache and a mouth that felt like somebody had taken a month-old road- killed possum, dipped it in sock juice and stuffed it in his mouth. He flopped left and vomited long and loud into a Dingo boot. Then, muttering, 'Get outta bed, Tankbutt, I need me some brekfiss!,' he flopped right to push the ol' lady outta bed -- only, his arms landed on somethin' hard, metallic and greasy. Wally pried his eyes open. It was his scoot! In bed with him, and leakin' oil like a gasketless flathead. That's when he remembered: He'd come home drunk, bellowin' for supper, and found the ol' lady sprawled on the shag in a pile of empty beer cans and Cheetos bags, daubin' her toenails with pink metalflake, and he'd tossed her in the garage and slept with his 'sickle. 'Damn,' Wally thought, 'now she's gonna bitch 'cuz I oil-soaked the mattress, I gotta take this engine apart . . . again, and I hate workin' at the plastic pipe factory! Man, I'd give ANYTHING for a new job, a new scoot and a new ol' lady.' "

Later that day, the Devil turns up with the title to a Harley-Davidson dealership, keys to a fully restored '63 Duo-Glide and a righteous flat-belly named Darlene. You can imagine the rest. The only twist comes at the end, when the Devil shows up at Wally's biker bar to collect Wally's soul and . . . Well, see if you can guess. That's right: They kick the Devil's butt and throw him out.

Pretty decent, huh? I'm a little worried that it's too good -- that it may put my story over the top. Still, I have faith that Outlaw Biker's editors will spot the chicanery, sense my falseness and slam- dunk my submission. I sent it yesterday. I'll let you know what happens. ::