Simon talks with top-selling suspense author Jason McIntyre about the creative process, bad reviews and writing cool stuff in Canada. Uncle Mike shares more Halloween Mosts, including top selling masks, the movie “halloween” and how The Shat works into all this. We also talk corndogs and probably think about Donny Most.
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Hot dogs: any combination of mustard, relish, onions, chili and cheese. Never ketchup or avocado or any other cute bullshit.
If you sign up for a website that publishes your attempts at fiction, you cannot post a new first draft every five fucking minutes and expect me to ooh and ahh over it like you’re bloody Shakespeare.
Learn to spell or use your damn spell check while you’re at it.
Hey, if there’s a red light 500 yards ahead, why the hell are you racing to get ahead of me only to stop at the freaking light? You know what kind of gas mileage you get at a stoplight? ZERO.
If you drive a Hummer, massive pickup or some other large vehicle and you are not in the infantry, a farmer, a landscaper or someone who otherwise requires a large “fuck you” vehicle: I say you deserve to pay a big tax–and not just at the gas pump. You get a dumb-ass tax, to be exact. And everyone else gets the right to give you the finger.
If you watch “professional wrestling” don’t whine to me that your kids are ill-behaved, poorly-read and prone to broken bones.
If you vote Republican and make less than $500,000 per year, you’re a dumb ass. Why? Because they don’t give a shit about you unless you have money. And if you vote Republican because you think they are morally superior then you have been fully hoodwinked and deserve whatever kick in the ass they give you.
Sarah Palin is a mendacious idiot. But crafty at taking advantage of other idiots, I must say.
If you vote Democrat and expect them to be anything more than ‘Republican Lite’ these days, you’re in for a lot of disappointments. FDR’s been dead a long time. BHO is a good man but ain’t no Roosevelt.
I know a gay white man who hates all black people. Just goes to show you there’s no unity between groups which suffer discrimination.
Think climate change is a hoax? You’re wrong and on behalf of my children I want to say fuck you for making it that much harder for them.
You want a hoax? Trickle down economics.
“Two and a Half Men” is terrible dreck. Read a book.
Nepotism sucks, especially when it imbues the untalented with wealth and success. I’m talking to you Charlie Sheen, Colin Hanks, Donny Trump, Jr., Gwyneth Paltrow and many others too infuriating to mention.
Would it kill you to shut up during the movie?
Please don’t try to tell me who God is. You have no idea and neither do I.
If you are lucky enough to get away with something you shouldn’t, please don’t tell me about it. You know who you are.
Fat? Exercise and watch what you eat. Every day. Don’t give up.
Smoking. I don’t smoke, but it’s none of my business if you want to open a joint that caters to smokers. I won’t patronize it, but knock yourself out.
Want to ride a motorcycle without a helmet? Fine, just make sure you have proof of insurance so I don’t have to pay to reattach your limbs after you eat asphalt.
That said, people who are against universal healthcare should never proclaim to follow the teachings of Jesus, unless they are cool with being openly hypocritical.
If you get your history from “Glenn Beck U” then perhaps you deserve it when history repeats itself all over your ass a few years from now.
Would it kill you to be nice to people?
Would it kill you to keep your swearing to a minimum in public?
Would it kill you to wear some actual shoes at the supermarket?
Removing heavy back hair is just the decent thing to do prior to your attendance of a public pool or at the beach. Ladies, you too.
After a red light turns green, you should wait about two seconds and look both ways to avoid the jackass who will inevitably run the red light that kills or maims you or someone you love.
If you have a blood relative who is trying to do what he/she thinks is right by running for office and you openly crap all over him/her because he’s not in the same Party as you, then you’re a jerk. You should keep your mouth shut, not actively attack him/her. Unless you’re a jerk, then go ahead and slam him/her to everyone you know. (Maybe you’re actually just jealous that him/her has the guts to try, and you never did. I dunno.)
That guy playing music at the bar, the one working for tips? If he can’t have your full attention surely he could have a dollar or two in his tip jar from you.
A man who pleases his wife first is a great guy. A woman who occasionally returns the favor is rare in my experience.
People who make lists like this are often self-important jerks. (Myself excluded, of course.)
If you’ve had the fortitude to stick with this blog since my first post (I’m Not Arguing That With You) you may recall I was miserable with my pathetic career choices and fantasized about changing my life…essentially getting my groove back:
But holy crap it would be so nice to just walk in and…
Well, I finally did it.
I decided to start my own business. My wife was with me 100 percent. Sure, the economy sucks ass (thanks Mr. Bush and friends) but she believes in me. (She was also probably categorically sick of my bellyaching and wanted me to get my groove back, too.)
So, for several months I planned my work and worked my plan…I ate my daily quota of shit, avoided mirrors (who needed the pitying look one gets from one’s self?) and quietly laid the ground work for my daring daylight escape.
The day finally came when I was ready. The new business incorporated, bank account open with a whopping $100, business cards printed. I even had some customers.
One task remained; one I both relished and feared.
I walked in to Mr. Waturi’s crappy little office, looked him in his piggy little eyes and told him effective immediately I was outta there.
“This life, what a joke. This situation… this room….you look like a bag of shit stuffed in a cheap suit.”
Okay, actually I didn’t say that. Instead I said thanks for a great opportunity, but I just wanted to try to do my own thing.
His mouth moved like that of a goldfish in a bowl, but no sound issued. His piggy eyes widened.
After what seemed an eternity he (and I am paraphrasing because he actually stammered around for twenty minutes–going through all the phases of grief) said:
“Please stay.” (He was stuck on the bargaining phase, I guess.)
I was totally blown away, and for a moment I indulged him in his promises to make things more tolerable; his hints at greater things to come if only I would give up another humiliating year or two of my career. If only I would let him feast on the rich moist center of my career meatloaf until all that was left was sawdust and ketchup.
But I did not waver. Instead I agreed to stay on a few months to help ease the transition. (And earn a tidy nest egg for the business to boot).
I have to say…it did feel good to say farewell to Mr. Waturi. I’m no longer arguing that with him. Sure, I have a totally new set of fears to conquer, but at least I’m longer waiting for my real life to begin.
Writers need goals – and they also need to know when to re-evaluate or even give up on the goals they’ve set. Click Eat That Frog!: 21 Great Ways to Stop Procrastinating and Get More Done in Less Time for help with goal setting it doesn’t sound like it’s about career goals, but it is!. And, read on for signs it’s time to reevaluate your career goals…
My late grandfather was well known in very small circles.
As an author of historically accurate western fiction over a career spanning nearly fifty years, he wrote more than 30 published novels, dozens of short stories and a few unproduced plays. What I know of the writer’s life–of a writer’s discipline, I know from him.
Though acclaimed and award-winning, he never made more than a few thousand dollars per book, communicated with only a handful of his fans and had no idea how to market himself. What he knew was he loved the work. He loved the discipline. He loved putting the words together.
His days went something like this: wake at 4 a.m. or so–make breakfast and drink coffee. At 4:30 a.m. he set an egg timer and wrote on an ancient Brother typewriter until the egg timer went off sixty minutes later. Then it was off to the racquetball club for a quick game, a shower and then a nine-hour day at his job as an historian.
Discipline Over Easy.
When he came home, he tended to household chores and whatever social activities my grandmother set for him. He would read, perhaps catch a little television, then sleep. The next day–everyday–he started again. If he wasn’t writing, he was researching.
He did this (with some minor variation) every day for at least 25 years. Prior to that he had other routines to keep his work going. This was my grandfather’s booklife.
I freely admit to being a dilettante up to about two years ago. I majored in professional writing in college after being praised throughout my entire educational career as being talented with words–spoken and written. But I did it easily. I slid by–not too hard with public school standards. I was lazy and thought hard work was for suckers.
Years of dabbling in writing novellas and a couple of full-blown (promising but ultimately unpublishable) novels were fruitless, because I was not learning from my failures. I wasn’t working hard enough, and I wasn’t taking anything seriously. My booklife was the equivalent of having a gym membership and going twice a year.
A few years ago, eaten up with cancer and literally on his deathbed, my grandfather told me in not so many words to get serious about my writing. I promised I would.
And I did not. At the time I was a promising, but ultimately failed political candidate. (Sensing a pattern here?) And when I wasn’t losing elections I was a radio talk show host or actor. My off hours were spent drinking martinis and getting laid. My booklife was on the shelf.
It took getting the shit kicked out of me by some bad personal decisions and a self-imposed banishment to the smallest town in the world before I changed. A story that had been knocking around in my head for two years came out. The characters took control. I wrote three hours a day after work for four months straight to crank out a first draft.
Even so, I never really linked my grandfather’s booklife to what I was doing until I read On Writing by Stephen King. That book made me truly appreciate the discipline and work my grandfather put into the craft of writing. I’ve read it five times and listen to Mr. King read the audiobook version on my IPod whenever I need a kick in the pants.
Researched, edited, tweaked, rewritten six times (I wrung out those adverbs, Mr. King!) my book is finished. Though 18 months later all I have to show for it are a stack of paper and virtual rejection slips, I’m proud of my book. I’m also proud of winning a modest short story contest. But that’s not the real nut of what I’m saying here–in my usual way I’m bleeding all over the keyboard and haven’t even discussed the main subject.
Though I have not yet achieved even a scintilla of my grandfather’s success, I have achieved the discipline. I have my own Booklife, and had I read Jeff VanderMeer’s book of that same name years ago I think it may have saved me a lot of time and agita.Booklife is the Rosetta stone for twenty-first century writers. (I learned of it from Justine Musk’s Tribal Writer blog, and to her I am grateful.)
Subtitled “Strategies and Survival Tips for the 21st-Century Writer,” Booklife isn’t just about the discipline–it’s about making sure the discipline doesn’t burn you out or make you crazy. Just as King did in On Writing, VanderMeer encourages, gently cajoles and flat-out kicks your ass when you need it.
Unlike King, though, VanderMeer gives a detailed roadmap on how to create a relationship with current and potential readers through social media. My grandfather never had that opportunity. His books sold okay, but I cannot help but wonder how different things would have been had he access to the internet. I imagine fan clubs and a hell of a lot more books sold. Today you can find some of his out-of-print books in secondary school libraries, rare bookstores and online booksellers. (A first edition of one of his books goes for almost $200 at a certain bookstore. I want it.) I also think of how amazing it would be if his work could be downloaded as ebooks–the direction my beloved, rejected novel is going.
VanderMeer’s style is laid back, breaking up topics into easily digestible bites. He even invites the reader to “dip into the book at any point.” I chose to read it straight through. Though I could arrogantly assume my day job as a PR man puts me ahead of many writers when it comes to promotion–therefore I could skip that section of the book–clearly VanderMeer’s advice on modern book promotion is indispensable.
Booklife is divided into the “Public Booklife” and the “Private Booklife.” The Public Booklife covers goal setting, self-discovery as a writer and ways to communicate with readers using today’s technology. It includes a sample PR plan that would have done wonders for my granddad and will certainly help me.
The Private Booklife “constitutes your core activities: the engine that drives your creative life.” Though I shy away from crunchy granola navel gazing about why I write, VanderMeer’s “Pillars of Your Private Booklife” are worth the lint farming.
Between the Public and Private is the Booklife “Gut-Check.” This is required reading:
“Booklife is as much about balance as anything else. Balance between your Public and Private Booklife–working smarter and more imaginatively for greater creative satisfaction and gain. Losing balance means losing perspective. When you lose perspective you no longer understand the real value of the elements in your Booklife. You distort the importance of promotion weighed against actual writing. You rationalize web surfing as ‘research.’ You tell yourself that all you need is one more push and you’ll be over the hill. You respond to email as it appears in your inbox rather than developing a protocol for response…the goal’s still on the horizon, and you’re expending a lot of useless energy.
Consequently, too, you’re probably not spending a lot of time in the physical world. A balance between the physical and electronic worlds is crucial here. My personal sense of balance requires at least a few hours of walking in the woods every week to truly reset my fragmented, overstimulated mind. As writers, we don’t enhance our skills of observation and intuitiveness sitting in front of a screen 24-7, and so an hour in the woods or out among people is about a hundred times more valuable to me than an extra hour for networking or other work situated on the ‘intertubes.'”
My grandfather knew this.
Though he didn’t have the distraction of the internet and the many “conveniences” of our age, he still had plenty of cul de sacs where he could have parked his creativity. He knew that writing was a job: a job he loved that rewarded discipline, respect for the craft and a healthy love of life away from the keyboard.
Among many other things, VanderMeer said something that sticks with me. It illustrates my grandfather’s booklife (and now my own):
“Ultimately if you’re not writing for yourself and because you believe that what you’re doing is in some way of use–that it means something–then just don’t do it. There are easier ways to make money.”
VanderMeer preaches that gospel for the post-millennium writer. This book should be on every writer’s desk next to On Writing and The Elements of Style. As a recovering dilettante, VanderMeer’s book has reinforced the conviction that I am among the converted.
My work means something to me…and of course it would be a nice bonus to be–like my grandfather–well known in small circles.
Simon’s Groove is what happens when two former radio talk show hosts retake the mic for a raucous weekly show filled with chat about current events, pop culture and more. Simon’s Groove features interviews, music, movie reviews and corny jokes, too.