Monday, January 10, 2011

Pub Ten

Ten Things That Indicate You're a Published Writer

All of a mega-bestselling author's technical shortcomings can be listed verbally by you on demand, as well as how they could fix them (if they weren't so busy rolling in all those heaps of cash.)

At least three of your non-writer friends ask for free books every single time you have a release; after reading them two who have no talent for writing whatsoever insist on telling you how you can improve your stories; one of them will be right.

Drama and dramatic events always interest you on your writing level first (i.e., How can I use that in a story?) If a non-writer is around you when the drama occurs, you will put on your best shock/sympathy face so they'll think your interest is purely compassionate. If another writer friend is around, together you'll dissect the drama like that flatworm in high school science class.

Every mistake you, your editor and the copy-editor didn't catch in the proofs will from the published page forever glare at you like a hot pink bloodshot eye. For a time you will be convinced that something like a missing apostrophe spells the end of your professional career, or makes you look like a complete dumbass.

Facing out your books always feels good; finding them faced out feels even better. Stacking a couple copies of your book in front of the faced-out book by your sworn writer enemy feels best, although you'll try to resist doing that because in your heart you know it's wrong and might send you straight to writer hell. Until the day you find some other writer's books stacked in front of yours; then it's simply payback.

For at least ten cities around the world you can describe in detail the local architecture, weather, living conditions, ethnic distribution of the local population and even give driving directions to numerous restaurants, hotels and local places of interest. You will not, however, have ever personally visited any of these cities, nor will you admit this.

In your opinion books by authors who sell better than you take up too much shelf space at the book store; books by great writers you admire never get enough -- and neither does your debut.

Office supplies excite you. So does opening a new ream of printer paper, successfully removing the seal strip from and installing a new toner cartridge, starting to write on the first page of a new notebook, and opening the box of new business cards that just came in the mail. The biggest thrill you will ever have is the very first time you hold a published edition of your work (which you will also read over a hundred times or more to refresh the thrill that over time settles to a satisfied glow until release day, at which point you can't look at it anymore, much less touch it.)

Sex scenes don't worry you until the moment you have to give a copy of the book to your mother, your father, and/or that frail elderly family member with the heart problem.

Writer hell for you encompasses things like having your debut novel ripped to shreds in a major trade, not winning that award you wanted, having to applaud and smile while someone else takes that award you wanted for that piece of crap they hacked out, or a close writer friend who tells you they've just donated all the copies they owned of your books to some charity or the local library, without telling you why. There are many levels to writer hell, and each is twice as torturous as the previous, like the ones you plummet through after hearing about the mysterious donation:

--Level #1: You don't ask why, but wonder if your close writer friend is a) wonderfully generous, b) totally pissed at you for something stupid you did to them and have since forgotten, or c) secretly hates you for some completely justifiable reason that is still unknown to you.

--Level #2: You say nothing to the writer friend you thought was close but debate why did s/he do that? internally for at least a month before deciding that they now secretly hate you.

--Level #3: You drive yourself crazy wondering what the unknown reason is, and what to call the friend now. Not a friend, obviously.

--Level #4: You drop hints to your former close writer friend about what the unknown reason is -- very subtly so they don't know that you know that they now secretly hate you -- to see if the ingrate will slip and actually confess to the truth.

--Level #5: You stop speaking to your hateful and merciless writer acquaintance for a couple of weeks while you take a kick-boxing class, violate the terms of your twelve-step program, and/or compulsively gorge on Skittles, M&Ms and/or Nacho Cheese Doritos.

--Levels #6,7,8 and 9 are variations of level #4, until at last the cowardly monster who used to be your close writer friend casually mentions an ordinary reason for the donation, like they moved to a smaller place and had to downsize their book collection.

--Level #10: You decide that they are lying to you, return to level #1 and tour all the levels again until you find a get-out-of-writer-hell free card, like casually mentioning to the close writer friend that you now secretly hate that you've just donated all their books to a charity or the local library -- without telling them why.


  1. ROFL. Okay this one had me laughing pretty hard.

  2. LMAO.... why is it that non-writers feel they can criticize your work and give you pointers? I finally told my parents that I love them but I don't need them to critique my work and reminded them they don't critique my brother's work as a crew chief on a plane or my other brother's work as a computer programmer. No need to do a line-edit for me either.

  3. Love the "ten cities" one. It's so true. When you're a writer everything becomes fodder, and you have excuses to learn about everything.

  4. I always wondered if I was weird for my absolute love of office supplies. I refer to Office Max as my toy store. I'm always like, "I could be so productive, if I only had this!" or "I'd be so organized if I only had this!" Then I spend too much money on stuff and either never use it, or use it and yet don't become any more productive or organized.

    Yeah. I must be a writer.

  5. You forgot to mention how we secretly believe we can solve all problems if we just have enough different colors of highlighters and post-it notes.

  6. Haha! These are so true! I actually love reading the news and being a witness during a confrontation or conflict because, like you said, I love being able to incorporate what I see in real life into my stories. I also like studying human behavior (not in the creepy way that it sounds like!) and sometimes if
    I meet someone with a dynamic enough personality, I try to see how I can add some of those traits to my own characters.

    I think I'm addicted to the exhilaration I feel from writing on the first page of a new notebook. :)

    Thanks for posting...very entertaining to read. :) And thank you for the confirmation...I'm a writer all right!


  7. So true! Hahaha, that post made my whole day. :)

  8. Entertaining and so true, thanks! Who'd be a writer? ;-)

  9. Anne V.6:17 PM

    Teachers also get inappropriately excited about office supplies. As both a writer and a teacher office supply stores make my eyes roll back in delight.