As an obscure – one might say “unknown in every sense of the word” – writer, I get a lot of requests. Like these: “Want to write a paper for me?” or “Hey, write me a press release;” or, “Stop sending me things to read;” or “Stop writing me these messages, you are freaking me out;” or “This is a cease and desist order.” Sometimes, the requests are directly related to my experiences as a four-time Published Author, and most of those queries are stuff like “Should I abandon all hope of making money off of writing?” The answer to that, of course, is a resounding, fatigued, “Yes.” Sometimes, though, the questions are about how to write, or, similarly, how to go about the writing process.
While I’m not going to give you a thorough answer here – there are an absurd amount of blogs trying to do that already, and most of them give the same advice – I will give you valuable advice about your relationship with your editor, because I’m not cool enough to have an agent – yet. You see, your relationship with your editor (or agent, but for the sake of keeping it close to me, we’re going with editor) is one of the most important ones you’ll have. The editor is the person who sees all those first drafts, all those manuscripts covered in blood and coffee stains. The person who gets frantic e-mails that read something like one I sent recently:
Dear Hypothetical Editor,
I’m worthless. Everything I write is drivel. I’m going to resign myself to the knowledge that being an office cog is the only worthwhile thing I’ll contribute to society. The only thing I can write well is a note on a check that says, “Thanks for your business.” This writer’s block will never end, and I’ll never deserve an advance on a book. Please burn all of my manuscripts.
And then they’ll get frantic e-mails that read like this (generally right after the preceding one):
Dear Hypothetical Editor,
I am the BEST. WRITER. EVER. Check this idea out, if you can handle it: A Jewish secret agent is pitted against an evil anti-Semitic organization bent on destroying EVERY SYNAGOGUE IN AMERICA. He’s on the case and on their trail, but when he meets a beautiful Iranian girl associated with the organization, who will bend in their beliefs first? Also: he owns a talking parakeet that houses the soul of Samson.
I smell a trilogy and MILLIONS OF DOLLARS.
Signed The Best-Sellingest-Author-Ever,
So, all that in mind, I present: How to Ruin Your Writer-Editor Relationship
Now, some of you might not know this, but I am a master Handicraftsman. (You know handy-mans and craftsmans? They’re below the rarely-obtained level of Handicraftsman. It’s kind of like the super-secret über black-belt in karate. In fact, we make the Freemasons look like chumps.) I rarely show people the extent of my abilities, since, if I did, I’d be out there painting and building everything people ask me to. Which would be a lot.
If you doubt me, here is a picture of one of my constructions. You may question why the picture is in black-and-white, and my answer would be: Because in order to showcase that which is art, you must present it as art. Note the subtle use of nouveau-trash. I bet you don’t even know about that architecture style. Don’t feel bad, not many people do. It’s French. The structure – which I refer to as the Irony Heap – took four months of planning, three months to construct the frame, and an additional three months to construct the exterior. Yes, ten months may seem a long time to spend on a single construction, but I assure you: When you’re a Handicraftsman, time becomes something that’s secondary to perfection.
But I’m not coming at you today to talk about how to build something so striking as the Irony Heap. I’m here to talk to you today about the proper way to paint the exterior of a home. Or, if you need to, a car. They’re one and the same thing, and you use the same paint to cover each of them.
You see, my Mom is painting the front doors of her condo in Nashville and, as her son, I realized that it was my duty to help her. (Well, she told me this would take the place of rent, so it’s very much the same thing.) Without further ado – or, adieu, ah ha, ha – I present the Handicraftsman’s Guide to Painting.
Even though I’ve never visited New York for more than a week, much less lived there, I keep being told, “You belong in New York.” (Note: I also apparently belong in Canterbury, London, Denver, Ohio, and Madison, WI, so I’m taking that with a grain of salt.) Of course, there’s a large body of evidence for that statement. For example: I like baseball, and NYC has, I’m told, a couple of baseball teams. I’m a liberal, and, if you didn’t know, Nashville is at best moderate. And, apparently, I’m standoffish.
If I could put another section on my website, it would be “The Many Rejected Stories,” and, brothers, it would be massive. This is one such rejected story.
See, a while ago – I think my junior, senior year at UT – I was fixated on getting something published in something related to McSweeney’s. I was convinced that if “Aaron Simon” appeared in the table of contents of that magazine – or its internet offspring – would turn me into an overnight millionaire. I managed to delude myself so much that I worked it into the story “Rocks and Hot Dogs.” The first draft had a throwaway line that read something like, “He managed to make a living selling short stories.” My fiction prof at the time, Margaret Lazarus Dean, helpfully scrawled, “No, he couldn’t…” in the margin, and my illusions about writing as a way to make money money were shattered.
Anyway. During that deluge, I was writing a piece of flash fiction a day, and one of the pieces was what you’re about to read. It was rejected within a day, but, hey, their loss, right?
So Nashville just put on a festival called The Celebration of Cultures. For a city its size and reputation (middle-sized city and country music extravaganza), it was a very satisfying celebration of every international portion of the city. From the Indian restaurants to the Mongolian restaurant down on 4th Avenue, to Chinese buffets, to Japanese sushi bars, to Mexican tacquerias.
It was a great time, with plenty of world music, food, and, yes, my friends, hats. And, even better, it was free. Set in front of Nashville’s facsimile of the Parthenon, you got a sense of how, exactly, Nashville’s setting its sights on being more than the home of country music. (If nothing else, attracting more people to the city to get some more money to pay for the flood damage that the city’s still working on. Speaking of which, come visit Nashville! There are some really good bars here!)
So, as you’re probably guessing, I went to the festival. Brad was volunteering at the Japan booth, so I popped by, said hi, got some really good tikka masala, and wandered around for a good long time. Heard some pretty good music ranging from Creole jazz to Bulgarian folk; saw some creepy old people dancing like geriatric Jews at a wedding; smelled the smells of gyros everywhere, and watched as dogs tried to dash madly at dropped food.
And then, as I walked around in my straw Jamaican hat getting dirty looks from people, I got a Horrible Idea. Originally, I thought of it as “How to Enrage People,” but then decided, screw it, I’d take a potshot at Limbaugh. Brad wondered why I kept picking on Republicans. I responded that I don’t pick on Republicans, I pick on idiots; a great number of which happen to be in the Republican Party. Anyway, without further ado, save being after the jump, I present you with a choice selection of what would go through Rush Limbaugh’s mind if he went through Nashville’s Celebration of Cultures.
Quick note here:
A month or so ago, I wrote a story (imaginatively called “Adam’s Story”) about a golem. Adam, the golem, talks about how difficult his life is. In addition, we’re treated to a few scenes from a support group for supernatural beings, including a Sasquatch, a banshee, and a gorgon. Essentially, it reads like a stand-up bit from Woody Allen.
It’s going to appear in Groanology 2. More details when the Table of Contents for the anthology is released.