Thursday, February 25, 2010

hands as heavy as lead

Don't write a novel. Really. Don't. It's a time sink that will sap your reserves and, about midway through, any self-esteem you may have as an artist or craftsperson. But if you really, really want to write one, despite me telling you what a godforsaken mistake it is, here are some suggestions to make your life easier.

Don't tell anyone you're doing it. This is a big one, because people who know you will ask if they're in it, and assume they are no matter what you tell them. They will also beat down your door with ideas for your novel, none of which will be of any use to you because, I'm assuming, you thought about the project for more than 20 minutes before starting. And that's just people who know you. Trying to impress strangers with this grand literary adventure of yours is pointless because they will assume you're some goony wolfshirt with plans to spread your epic 900-page LOTR re-write to the masses via Lulu.

Don't tell them what it's about. For some reason, people go fish-eyed whenever an aspiring novelist tries to explain their novel to them. It could be the simplest premise in the world. It could be a novelization of The Wedding Singer, and still the response will be "huh...interesting," as if you'd just told them that you'd always thought Bea Arthur was sexy. It's even worse if, say, you told them your novel was set in a university for clowns and mimes, like mine is. I'm probably on some kind of federal registry now.

Don't edit. Seriously, writing a novel is hard enough. It's no good to go back to it a few months after finishing, only to realize that it sucks and then essentially writing it all over again. The best way to write a novel is in the midst of a delirious caffeine bender, one intense enough that your heart explodes the second you finish typing. That way you won't spend another few months beating yourself up, and no one will have the heart to disparage your work because you died.

Instead of writing a novel, do something valuable with your time. Learn to play backgammon. Shoot varmints off the back porch. Eat your own hair. Anything. Just, for the love of everything holy, don't go down this road. Back to work.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

lately it seems like my friends have turned to ghosts

Jonas posted one of his favorite poems just recently, so I decided to do the same. I'm not known for my appreciation of poetry, and with good reason, but I do like Thomas Hardy (just his poems - his novels are garbage) and John Donne, the latter of whom is responsible for "The Apparition," aka the most epic I-will-stalk-you-from-the-grave poem ever composed by man.

WHEN by thy scorn, O murd'ress, I am dead,
And that thou thinkst thee free
From all solicitation from me,
Then shall my ghost come to thy bed,
And thee, feign'd vestal, in worse arms shall see :
Then thy sick taper will begin to wink,
And he, whose thou art then, being tired before,
Will, if thou stir, or pinch to wake him, think
          Thou call'st for more,
And, in false sleep, will from thee shrink :
And then, poor aspen wretch, neglected thou
Bathed in a cold quicksilver sweat wilt lie,
          A verier ghost than I.
What I will say, I will not tell thee now,
Lest that preserve thee ; and since my love is spent,
I'd rather thou shouldst painfully repent,
Than by my threatenings rest still innocent.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Forget about them bombs and light a fart

So I mentioned in my last post that I think a lot of author photos look really dorky and terrible. What I realized is that I need some examples - the statement itself isn't enough to convince people why I refuse to pollute my already-questionable work with candids of m'self. Let's get started!

Richard Laymon looks like he should be ranting about Kwanzaa on AM radio, and his work is misogynistic and gory enough to add some weight to that observation. Also, nice trigger discipline.

Jim Butcher writes decent urban fantasy based in Chicago, but his protagonist can't decide whether he's a bumbling oaf or a gritty detective/wizard. And then there's this picture, which looks like he's staring out the window, hoping his mom picked up a pizza on her way home.

George R.R. Martin is another fantasy author, and this is the most groomed he'll ever be. He's best known for A Song of Ice and Fire, a series he will never finish no matter how many spastic nerdlords freak out about it online. More importantly, he is not your bitch.

Finally, Alain de Botton poses in front of a prairie of empty chairs, like he was the last one to leave morning assembly or something. And like the friendless goon this picture makes him out to be, he cries when people say mean things about him.

Now that you've taken in their photos, consider that I'm about ten times less photogenic than anyone featured here. Yeah. The faceless Pynchon route will do my work a lot of good, I think.

Monday, February 22, 2010

i'd rip their nostrils open with a boat hook

Quick update: I added an About Me page to this blog! Well, the actual title is The Man Himself, but you get the idea. Of course, the author's picture is not of me, but at least it's a doctored Victorian photograph whose subject vaguely resembles me. That's a start, right? Right? Yes. I've never been a fan of author's photos, especially when they're of me - so many authors try so hard to project a specific image to reflect upon their work that prospective readers would take one look at me and dismiss whatever I've written as pulpy "genre fiction" (whatever that term even means), sight unseen. Another photo at least gives me some leeway to cloud the waters a bit. Plus, it's fun and who gives a shit what I look like anyway?