Writing and putting a book out is an MF’r! Oh, I’m sorry, good Sunday morning everyone. Anyway, tying up all the lose ends and getting a book out to the public can be an exhausting experience. When you start one of these things you really don’t intend to finish it, or at least I don’t. Mine usually start as a few lines, maybe a page or two, never anything like a PLAN or anything like that, oh no! When I write a novel I usually write the end first. I write jokes like that, too. Come up with some funny line, and then have to fill in story to support the humor.
I think along about page sixty or so it begins to dawn on me that this thing is a bit more than a grocery list. At that point some sort of direction begins to form, but nothing that’s going to intimidate Hemingway, or anything like that, just several pages that seem to be on the same track, but don’t quote me on that. Then two things happen. First you become inspired, and that’s dangerous. When you become inspired you stop combing your hair. The next is what goes into this particular work becomes restricted. If you’re crazy enough you think you might actually have some kind of “message” for the people, you start being very careful about what you put in. Now this works up to a point because if you’re not too schizophrenic what fits, and what doesn’t fit becomes readily apparent soon enough.
In my latest assault on human intelligence there was this one chapter. Since it was a book of political satire, I had to include this one particular subject, which was about as funny as a birthday party at Auschwitz, so I scanned the Internet and found several news stories to substantiate my views and put them all in. Several things wrong with this. First of all it’s just plain ol’ down home plagiarism. Next it’s the lazy man’s way out. When I see an article with a lot of quotes, figures, and bits and pieces from other sources I simply won’t read it. Anyway, this chapter didn’t fit in any way with the spirit of the book, and it took Amazon, oh, about three hours to pack it in my ear. I ended up replacing it with another article that I had written, which was clever, serious, and had a twist at the end, which was still not funny, makes the reader think, and consider.
You ramble on for a period of time and then one day it looks like this thing may be a book, and could be drawing to a logical end. To show you how stupid I really am, it’s along about this point that I begin to save copies on flash sticks. Up until that point I’m writing on just about anything. I have written a book on a iPhone! It is also long aboutnthis time you begin to think about editing. Now, I’m fixing (how do you like that Texas slang? “Fixing!) anyway, I’m fixing to step off into uncharted territory here that’s going to alienate, oh, about ninety-nine percent of the published world, but I don’t believe in editors. I had one once.
Back in the day, when literacy was the standard, prose, punctuation, syntax, and other things were important. Well, Facebook and texting did away with all that crap. This is good and bad. The bad is that very ignorant people can now have their moment in the sun to a very large portion of the population, who are just as stupid as they are. Stupid people have influence. If you don’t believe that, just look at the White House, but I digress. The good part is that language, English in particular, has been reduced to a level that most people can comprehend. When you’re writing for the boys and girls down at Harvard that’s one thing, but when you’re targeting Texas A&M, and you’re a two-bit blogger, such as myself, you have to communicate in the local vernacular. “Cast your eyes in yon direction” will translate to, “Lookee yonder!” Now, I’m not slandering the Aggies, but . . . Oh, forget that, yes I am, but let’s continue.
If you have any native intelligence at all you will pick up on some of the more basic rules of writing. Past tense, future tense, and all that stuff becomes apparent. You won’t really be able to articulate why it works, you’ll just feel it. You will know when you make mistakes. Sort of like when you meet some girl in a bar, talk with her for fifteen minutes, she goes to the rest room and never comes back. Like that! I throw out bits and pieces here and there, and friends who DID finish high school will point out goofy stuff to me. That’s editing! With this last book I sent copies to a friend of mine down at a radio station in Houston. As it turned out, he liked the articles and the owner of the station was kind enough to run a substantial amount of them on their web page, AND even read them on the air, which is always good. I intended him to read over the finished book and get back with me, but after Amazon had animal sex with me, I realized my friend had already READ most of the book anyway! The most important ingredient was already there, COMMUNICATION! Who is a better editor? A radio talk show host with thousands of listeners, or some old bat in a New York flat catering to a bunch of people who’ll never buy your book ANYWAY? Do the math. (And it’s real simple math, folks,)
Spelling is sort of important, but it’s not a deal killer. I try never to use a word that’s smarter than I am. I level out around three syllables. On occasion I’ll chunk in a four, but that’s rare for me. When Texans see too many four syllable words they will tag you as a Yankee, and that IS a deal killer. I try not to cuss too much. Sometimes it fits. I don’t cater to thin skinned liberals, but I do want to get at least SOME of my ideas across the Red River, and there IS a contingent out there who still don’t know what an S.O.B. is so I have to weigh my options. I write about politics and there ARE some S.O.B.’s out,there, trust me. I use spell check, but I don’t pray to it, especially when I manufacture a word here and there. And auto correct? Oh my God! Remember when I told you about the people who had been schooled on Facebook vernacular? Well, auto correct is for them. I put auto correct in the same basket with that animated paper clip in Word that dances around and tries to tell you about sentence structure. As soon as I realized I was listening to a paper clip I turned that little prick OFF! I don’t CARE if it’s an incomplete sentence. Miss Hornbuckle back at Killeen High School is not grading this paper, ok?
After it’s all over and you push the button depression sets in. Oh yeah. You must understand that all writers are crazy, myself included, and fifty percent are crazier than THAT! After all is said and done, and the book is finally out you will experience a void, but that void is nothing compared to what you feel when you re-read your PUBLISHED work. At this point you seriously consider using a Pen Name. The duration of this depression depends on your basic mental health and medication. A bottle of Jim Beam usually does the trick for me. I try not to get depressed on Sunday because I live in Texas, and Texans never seem to plan ahead on Saturday night.
Don’t watch sales. Therein lies madness! If you get a check, dance in the street. If you don’t get a check, don’t tell anybody. Remember, most people have never written a book, and those who do will never make a dime. It’s not about that. It’s about communicating. If you are not communicating, and make a million bucks, you have failed! If you get a check for six dollars and thousands of people are sharing your blog, then you have touched the essence of what writing is really all about!