He’s got his whisky, he’s got his briefcase; he’s gonna be alright.

February 4, 2010 at 4:34 pm | Posted in Situations | Leave a comment

If anyone’s ever published anything, or had a large paper or thesis of any kind approved, then you know the joy you feel when it finally reaches completion. When it culminates into fruition. I’m close to completing something that has taken me over three years to complete.

Why so long?

Delays in meeting with the right people; miscommunications; poor timing are just a few of the reasons. I want very desperately to get into the publishing world, and delays are something I should accept if I’m serious about doing it. You can write something that you think is solid gold, but if your editor thinks it’s trite or hackneyed, you’re back to the drawing board. I don’t speak from the fountain of experience, but what very limited experience I do have suggests that the business of publishing is a cash business. They only want what they can sell, and while you may believe you’ve just written the best thing since War & Peace, they don’t want something that will only sell to your family and close friends. You must find a balance between what is good, and what it readable. That is, if you actually want to sell your books.

Alright, before I get on a soapbox (which I promise not to do) I also want to tell you a story. Certainly most people have had similar experiences in their lives. Here’s one for you:

I had a conversation with a kid a couple of years ago about the topic of writing; and by kid, I mean someone just out of college entering into the world of the liberal arts Masters degree. We’ll call him “Sunny.” Upon first meeting “Sunny,” I realized after about a minute’s worth of conversation that he was a passing flatus, starting off with a good bang but in the end he just stinks until he’s gone.

Now “Sunny” loved himself. A lot. He was convinced every girl that looked at him wanted to strip him naked and go buck-wild on him like Madonna on A-Rod. He also liked to ask awkward questions about people’s sex lives because he thought it gave him a sexy, straight to the point type of quality. And even though he wasn’t a bad looking dude, he came off more like the pervy guy watching you from the bushes without his pants on.

But to get to my point, he also thought he was a tremendous writer. One day I had to visit the office where he worked, to meet a friend; the office was a communal one, shared by three people at a time. To be polite, I said hello to him, and even though I didn’t particularly like him (for all the aforementioned reasons), I decided to pass the time through conversation with him since he was the only one there, while I waited for said friend to arrive.

Big mistake.

I asked him what he was up to, and he said he was writing a novel. This was at work, mind you, which reminded me of Allison Janney’s character from the movie 10 Things I Hate About You, only he was far less amusing. I asked him what it was about, and he spouted some vague exaggerated platitudes about his own work that I thankfully don’t remember. For his sake more than mine, considering this current medium. He then asked me about my reason for being there, likely because he realized it would have been rude not to. I told him I was talking to my friend about revising my thesis. I’ll re-enact the scene as best I can:

“Revise? What do you have to revise?”

“The premise. I have to re-write my position.” I said. Pretty much standard.

“What?!” His octave announced his horror, shrill and effeminate. “How long will that take?!”

“I don’t know. Depends on how much of it needs work.”

“Jesus, I could never do that.”

“You don’t say.” I was already disinterested in what he could never do.

“Yeah. I write all the time. My work’s pretty good; people tell me. I don’t think I’d have to revise much, if anything at all.”

Surely he didn’t realize he had put me down to build himself up. If he were a peacock, his tail would have encased the room in colors mundane. I tried to keep my facial expression neutral in light of his almost certainly undeserved sense of accomplishment.

“I write for fun, too,” I said, for lack of anything else to say.

“Oh.” He said, “I’ll probably make a career out of it though.”

“Good for you.”

“Yeah.”

A long pause passed.

“What do you write?” He finally asked. The silence must’ve gotten to him.

“Just short stories.”

“Me too!” A genuine expression of interest. “Do you ever find that your short stories shock people? You know, like out of their complacency?”

“No.” I stifled a laugh. “I suppose I’ve never had anyone tell me that I shocked them out of their complacency with my stories.”

“Yeah. I guess I’m pretty good.”

Desperately trying to get off the topic, I asked, “Have you chosen a thesis topic yet?”

“No. I figure it’ll just come to me eventually. I just have too much I wanna write about first.”

Glad you’re in the right program, kid. “Ah, well have you thought about it much?”

“Nah. I wanna do something that’ll shock them. I just don’t know what yet.”

“And you don’t think you’ll have to revise it once it’s done, huh?”

“No. I’ll just tell them to accept it like it is.”

I was so thankful when my friend finally arrived I nearly bear-hugged him. He was like Virgil arriving to guide me out of the Inferno.

To my knowledge, “Sunny” still hasn’t tried writing a thesis. I suppose he was just too original and iconoclastic to do it. Now I know he was a kid just coming out of college, but it wasn’t as though his attitude was one that was going to take the world by storm; it was just smug nonconformity. I guess that’s the problem with our generation, amigos. We believe those who have achieved stature before us should stoop to conquer the wisdom of those of us in our teens and twenties. Because we’ve done so much; learned so much.

Now as I said earlier, I do not propose myself to be some great writer. I am an unpublished wannabe. Simple as that. For all I know, “Sunny” may have been a prolific maestro of the written word, but now I am far less likely to care. Not because he was a douchebag, but because he was a douchebag who had already written off any attempts at humility or improvement.

To quote the erudite Greg Gutfeld: “And if you disagree with me, you’re probably worse than Hitler.”

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