A non-whining post about editing

Just for novelty’s sake, I thought I’d drop in and log a quick update that – after reading and editing the thing one more time, no doubt - I’ll be ready to turn over the first quarter of the book to my readers tomorrow. To my own shock and awe, I’m happy with it AND the last few days have gone well.

That’s right: Editing has NOT sucked!!!

I’m finally starting to get into some material that isn’t a discombobulated train wreck, and thanks to spontaneous faux interviews with both Larry King and Bill Maher, I’m feeling kind of pumped up. And now if Bill Maher starts the interview by stating that he knows I’ve written a best-selling book, but I’m also really hot, I won’t be stupid-shocked and say, “He wouldn’t say that. He wouldn’t say that. He would not say that…” five times while my head spins and drool pours out of the corner of my mouth.

Not at all. In fact, I’ve been convinced that he very well could say that, and I will have a snappy comeback prepared.

Meanwhile, I saw that the new Nobel Prize for Literature winner has been announced, and I’m thinking that $1.5 million (SEK 10 million) would look mighty fine in my bank account. Or cashed out and dumped all over my bed where I can roll around on it naked.

Either way.

Thus, it’s important that I don’t get too famous, because the Nobel prize for literature only ever goes to anarcho-syndicalist playwrights who survived a pogrom or a pamphleteer from Moldova or something like that. The rule is that it will not go to anyone you have ever heard of. However, depending upon how insecure and/or pompous you are, you might pretend you have after he or she wins. The winner must be alive, per Nobel rules, at the time of the nomination, so hopefully I can hang onto until at least 2011 or 2012 (when we’re all outta here anyway).

So I just need to maintain obscurity (probably about as easy as it sounds) and stay alive. Add to that the possibility of using my grandmother’s maiden name (Takach) as a pen name, thereby tapping into the suffering Eastern European pity vote, and digging up some depressed poetry from my teen years, and and I could really be onto something.

In addition, there is the now-famous assertion (if you have any interest in anything literary, that is. If not, your general reaction will probably be something like “Huh?” in reference to my suggestion that this was a well-publicized gaffe) made by the previous permanent secretary of the Swedish Academy (the dudes that vote for the Nobel prizes), Horace Engdahl. So anyway, Horace pissed some people off when he said last year that “Europe still is the centre of the literary world” and the quality of American writing was dragged down because authors were “too sensitive to trends in their own mass culture”.

In response, and as a ray of hope for my own nomination:  There are exactly no vampires in my book.

Not even one.

Oh, and that reminds me, in the spirit of laziness slash “I just spent nine solid hours editing and then worked out my guns for an hour and prepared a gourmet dinner. What have YOU done today?” here is this awesome (if not slightly harsh) list courtesy of Alan Mott of bookgasm.com.  There’s so much to love here, but I think #29 is my very favorite. That or #42.

#38 cuts a little close to the bone.

And #40 – RRSW, Did you write that? I’d recognize your work anywhere…

50 Reasons No One Wants to Publish Your First Book

1. Being innovative doesn’t justify writing a Civil War epic entirely in texting slang and emoticons: “ts u hor! i dnt gv dam :< !”

2. There’s this thing called punctuation. You might want to look into it.

3. They’re afraid your author’s photo is going to alienate readers. That’s right, dude: You’re too ugly for literature.

4. Where are the vampires?

5. No, seriously, where are the vampires?

6. The world isn’t quite ready for an illustrated children’s book called SOME MOMMIES ARE INTERNET PORNSTARS: “Mommy and Daddy’s door is always locked and your online access is completely blocked! You asked them why and they say, ‘Don’t worry, honey, we’ve just found a fun new way to earn some money!’”

7. It probably wasn’t a good idea to base the main character on yourself, considering how much most people seem to hate you.

8. The market for IRON CHEF slash fiction isn’t quite as broad as you may have assumed: “’Oh, Morimoto,’ Chef Batali sighed, ’stuff me like a pepper!’”

9. Submitting a manuscript handwritten in your own blood does indicate your passion for the material, but not quite in the way you might have hoped.

10. They liked it better when it was called Jane Eyre and didn’t suck.

11. Iambic pentameter? Really?

12. Funnily enough, a detailed diary of five years’ worth of bowel movements has already been done. Curse you, Kevin Smith!

13. If you’re going to try and sell it on OPRAH as a memoir, you probably want to cut the chapter where you go back in time, kill Hitler and make Stalin admit that he’s your bitch.

14. William Burroughs was a broken-down beatnik junkie genius; you’re a wannabe-hipster asshole imitating a broken-down beatnik junkie genius.

15. It’s not technically a novel until you’ve written it down first.

16. Yes, enclosing a bag of flour along with your manuscript and causing an anthrax scare will get people’s attention, but it’s the wrong kind of attention.

17. You’re not just being paranoid; there really is a vast corporate conspiracy to ensure that your revolutionary ideas never leave your parents’ basement.

18. They can’t quite understand why you felt compelled to write such nasty things about Kenny Loggins in what is otherwise a fairly standard legal thriller. Kenny knows, but to everyone else, it comes across as somewhat mean and arbitrary.

19. Most good books aren’t created with the sole hope that they might someday be adapted into a Martin Lawrence movie.

20. You’re actually the 139th person to submit a conspiracy thriller involving the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel, entitled THE MICHAELANGELO CIPHER.

21. And the 78th to submit a chick-lit manuscript about an attractive woman’s sweet tooth and affection for footwear, called CHOCOLATE AND SHOES.

22. You know the part where the protagonist stuffs those puppies into the wood chipper? It’s not quite as funny as you seem to think.

23. Truthfully, THE EVANGELICAL GUIDE TO GAY SEX is actually a great idea. The problem is that its target audience won’t want to buy it in a bookstore, and they’ll be highly reluctant to use their own credit cards to buy it online.

24. The alternative-history genre has lost its appeal. Everyone knows it doesn’t matter what else would have happened if the South won the Civil War and the Nazis won WWII: George W. Bush would stillhave been elected president.

25. A young-adult novel set in the behind-the-scenes world of network reality television featuring over two dozen characters, graphic underage sex and dead prostitutes? Are you fucking kidding me? No, seriously, are you fucking kidding me?

26. Remember the shit Salman Rushdie had to deal with after he wrote THE SATANIC VERSES? Chances are your XXX hip-hop reworking of the Koran — MO’ MONEY, MO’ PUSSY — is probably going to inspire the same reaction.

27. You know the talented creative writing professor who told you your work showed so much creativity and promise? Turns out what he really meant was that he wanted you to blow him.

28. Because they threw away their annual budget on the new Lindsay Lohan autobiography, BOOKS ARE RETARDED.

29. Everyone who attempts to load a copy of the manuscript onto their Kindle is found dead three hours later.

30. Four years ago, you wrote a post on your blog about how MAXIMUM OVERDRIVE sucks ass. Stephen King found it during a Google search and exerted his influence to ensure you never get paid a cent for your writing ever again.

31. There’s a fine line between writing authentic regional dialogue and making all of your characters sound like stroke victims.

32. Just be thankful they refused to publish it, since the common accepted response to a novel that ends with the protagonist realizing all the terrible things that happened were in a dream (or was it?) is some stern re-editing of your face with a pair of brass knuckles.

33. Writing a book about vegetarian zombies kinda indicates you don’t exactly know why people like zombies in the first place.

34. Calling your book OPRAH WINFREY IS A BIG FAT CUNT pretty much guarantees she isn’t going to select it for her book club.

35. Sure, you’re an amazing poet, but you aren’t a hot blonde pop singer with big tits, so who really gives a fuck?

36. God may have told you to write this book, but he didn’t tell you how to give it a decent ending.

37. You may want to revise the query letter you’re sending to agents so it’s more about the book and less about how much you love kittens.

38. For the first 20 pages, everyone who reads it is certain it’s the funniest book they’ve ever read. Unfortunately by the 21st, they finally realize you’re actually being serious.

39. Do you honestly not see the crucial flaw in writing a book intended for commercial sale that argues against copyright law and in favor of free unrestricted distribution of all forms of media?

40. It’s never a good sign when a manuscript’s first sentence is “’Are luck’s run out,’ said the Princess, ‘there unicorns are to fast!’”

41. When writing erotica, you want to avoid graphic descriptions of acne, cellulite and back fat.

42. Life-affirming poetry written by a 10-year-old with a fatal disease is inspirational; that same poetry written by a 47-year-old housewife with a trick knee and occasional indigestion is really, really lame.

43. Writing a 97,236-word thesis arguing the inherent superiority of Wolverine over Batman is intrinsically flawed since no intelligent person could ever take it seriously. I mean, c’mon, Batman would kick that midget Canuck’s ass every single time!

44. If you’re going to make your main character a forensic coroner, you’re obligated to know more about human anatomy than what you learned playing Operation as a kid.

45. A general rule to follow when writing for kids: If you could go to jail for saying it to them in person, you’re better off not putting it into print.

46. Historically, books written solely to settle a bar bet seldom make it to print, especially if they were written during a seven-and-a-half-hour period in the same bar where the bet was made.

47. The entire point of your book has already been more satisfactorily made in a single strip of Family Circus.

48. Because the printed medium is a dying art, and it would be a tragic waste to allow its last pathetic gasp be polluted by your bullshit.

49. Does anybody really need the complete lyrics to “One Million Bottles of Beer on the Wall”?

50. Again, I ask one last time, where are the freaking vampires?

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10 Responses to “A non-whining post about editing”

  1. Jose

    I´m glad your idea for a Nobel prize winning celebration is to dump a million bucks over your bed to roll around on it, naked. It is as sensible as satisfactory.

    Not so sensible was the celebration of my “other” Nobel prize winner friend. Let me tell you this incredible true story;

    One day I started this topic, in the discussion forum of a high IQ society, about “the positive influence of certain substances in creativity”.

    I must tell these kind of societies are perfect to convince you of the fact that more intelligence is not a guarantee of good sense, but, on the other hand, you often get evidence that being smarter can also make you defend wrong ideas more effectively. And you end up thinking most of the people there are not as exceptional as you thought they would be.

    And all of a sudden, in the midst of other unsubstantial comments, someone comes and gives you this answer (I quote):

    “Great day in the morning! I’ve been saying this for years.

    When I co-won the Nobel Prize, we took the prize money and immediately spent most of it on extremely dangerous drugs. The trunk of our rental car looked like a mobile police narcotics lab. We had two bags of grass, 75 pellets of mescaline, five sheets of high-powered blotter acid, a saltshaker half-full of cocaine, and a whole galaxy of multi-colored uppers, downers, screamers, laughers . . . and also a quart of tequila, a quart of rum, a case of Budweiser, a pint of raw ether and two dozen amyls.

    All this had been rounded up the night before, in a frenzy of high-speed driving all over Stockholm, we picked up everything we could get our hands on. Not that we needed all that, but once you get locked into a serious drug collection, the tendency is to push it as far as you can.”

    SIC as it sounds!

    We all laughed at this joke, until I knew from another member that this person (using a nickname from an old indian scientific) was actually a retired physicist who actually co-won the prize in the eighties, (for some kind of discovery which title I do not even dare to mention here).

    I do not have direct references of how true the Stockholm story is, but if I have to judge from the commentaries he makes in the forums, I would believe every single word/substance.
    LOL!!!

    So yes, I think your idea, of rolling around your prize money in american beauty´s outfit, really makes sense.
    ; )

    p.s: If I were you, I would consider it a good omen if today, while the academy is announcing their prizes (Obama!), you release some pages of your latest opus to the test of this faithfull jury of yours…

    We are book-thrirsty!

  2. Jose

    “Faithfull”, “Happyness”….

    I think it´s me who should spend nine hours a day editing!

    Sorry all, for that.

  3. wideawakeinwonderland

    Wow. I had no idea that Hunter S. Thompson co-won a Nobel Prize…

  4. Jose

    See? You can´t trust Nobel prize winners, those days… (Which is a shame, because I loved the image of a mad scientist getting high in Sweden, rather than a journalist in Las Vegas…).

    Isn´t it really disgusting, how difficult it is to know in the net who is a real talent and who is just quoting, and faking, and copying…?

    I hate that…
    : P

  5. wideawakeinwonderland

    Don’t give up the dream! It could be true. How would I know?
    I was just joking as that mentality (and the laundry list) sounded pretty much exactly like the opening sentences of a Hunter S. Thompson novel.
    But that doesn’t mean he’s the ONLY person who could take 37 types of mind-altering substances at the same time and live to tell about it!

    I did meet these Swedish guys when I was traveling last year who had some pretty harrowing stories involving medical-grade alcohol. (If that helps…???)

  6. Jose

    It does not sound similar. It is just a copy/paste kind of thing. I never heard of Hunter S. Thompson (feeling like an illiterate, again…), so I just browsed it and found it, exactly the same.

    The thing is that you can´t imagine how pissed off I am with this. I feel sooo stupid, not to believe this was true or false (it´s funny, anyway), but about me thinking I was having a conversation with a real human being, and not with a google browse result.

    So I just browsed the mail on the forum (actually it was from 05-17-05, 09:57 PM), and I answered, almost five years later, asking if he cheated too, on the test to become a member of the society. Which he probably did, by the way.

    I´m too naive for the cyberspace, I´m afraid…
    : P

  7. wideawakeinwonderland

    Not to revel in your disappointment, but that makes me feel a hell of a lot better! It sure did sound awfully familiar (queue Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas flashback).
    What a weird thing for a (Swedish?) physicist to do? Pretend to be Hunter S. Thompson?
    You would think it would be the other way around…

    Oh well. Nothing wrong with being naive. It’s better than the alternatives!

  8. wideawakeinwonderland

    And another upside: Now you’ve found the TRUE source of the excess, and he’s got quite a few books about his ‘gonzo journalism’ drug-fueled antics.
    Personally, I find that kind of lifestyle a little bit sad – the symptom of a tortured soul – but I suppose if you separate from that possibility, it’s an entertaining read. (?)

  9. Jose

    This is the best part of this blog (and I suppose a few fellow readers will agree, specially those from outside the US); it is full of incredibly interesting references!

    Since I met you, even disregarding what I don´t like (if that ever comes to happen), I learnt about incredible poets, musicians, writers, painters, places… that I didn´t know about, before.

    Your stories are great (sometimes really funny), but you are probably not aware of the great deal of open doors you bring with them. And not all of us know about all that, out here. Which is great!

    I read your blog, literally, “wide awake in wonderland”, (if I may use the reference without becoming part of the net cheaters), with google, youtube, wordreference and wikipedia open in other windows. And I´m constantly linking with “new worlds” for me. How interesting would that concept be, to Mr. Charles Lutwidge Dodgson…

    Anyway, don´t get too indulgent with my words. The blog is OK, but we want your book. Even if we have to pay for it…!
    : )))

    (And Hunter S. Thompson is already on my new list. I have been always interested on drugs… as an outsider. I saw too many things about the bad side of them, so I kept myself pretty much aside, but on the other hand I am sure that the link between drugs and creativity is huge. And through the years, I learnt that you can consciously alter your state of consciousness, so I am quite often “high”, but only on myself. Meditation is my drug… but listening to music from the ´70s and reading Tim Leary, I learnt a lot about being “tuned in”. So let´s see what Thompson brings… even if it´s only mental hangovers. I loved “Living Las Vegas”, so it can´t be that bad.)

  10. Jose

    Leaving (Las Vegas)!!!
    Scheisse!!!
    : ))