Wednesday, March 04, 2009

I Wanna Be a Writer When I Grow Up

If I ever get the patience, determination, and work ethic to sit down and force myself to become a writer, I want to die knowing that English professors everywhere shout my praises from their lecterns declaring that I was that one writer who could write so much about how life has no purpose, logic, or reason, yet still be able to make you laugh about it instead of cry.

I want to write about a fat kid who works harder than anyone else, and yet always falls short because he lacks the talent. At his best, he'll always be mediocre and he'll always work hard to be his best. At the end of my novel, he'll die relatively young, exhausted from a lifetime of working twice as hard as anyone else for half the reward, and you'll chuckle to yourself and think, "I'm sure glad I'm not like him," and you'll move on to the next book ignoring the fact that people like him are real, but they'll never read my book.

At least that's what you'll think if you picked up my book because it was on the New York Times Best Seller List. The book will entertain those types and make them feel better about themselves, and I'm okay with that because I have no pretense about being able to make the world a better place. However, the gifted few (mostly those English professors and people who like to think that they're really literate and wise) will realize that only people like them will have the time, money, and intelligence to waste reading a book about a fat kid who tries too hard and succeeds too little. they'd love to be able to make themselves laugh at people like my character, but will have acknowledged that too many people like them actually exist. Perhaps they will be public school teachers who've seen too many times that the ones they want the most to succeed, who themselves work the hardest to do so, tend to be the ones who'll never get the success they deserve. Or perhaps they'll just be assholes who think everyone else is an idiot anyway.

But as a writer (assuming that I'll find that patience, determination, and work ethic that I've so far never found), I'll find a way to make this beautiful and funny. I'll make it beautiful by making my readers really see the futility of life while simultaneously understanding that life is better lived with this knowledge than without. I'll make it funny because the protagonist is fat. Fat people are always funny. Just look at Ethan Suplee. That guy's a hoot. Or look at me naked. My wife always laughs when I take my clothes off at least. I'm surprised she was able to stop her guffawing (and I to muffle my shame) long enough to ever create a child. You will close my book with a new understanding of the world, but without gaining a fuck-it-all attitude. Disappointment at your failures will lessen, but you won't quit trying. You will learn that you really can eat your sadness because your own blubber will make you laugh.

I want to perfect my short story about the old guy who dies because he's tired of having to adapt to changes. I want to turn my failed serial short story about the guy with super powers into a novel that makes me feel like the concept really was as good as I thought it was.

But really, I just want to spend a couple of months out of the year working so I can afford to spend the other 10 months putzing around and being generally worthless. If I can ever find the patience, determination, and work ethic to do so, of course.

10 comments:

Mickey said...

Hey, that last paragraph described me! It really doesn't take as much determination and hard work as you might think. Just a taste for poverty. So if I were fat my life would be hilarious? I'll get to work on that.

And the book? What are you waiting for, sports fan?

Meaghan said...

The idea sounds interesting. I'd read it. Now get to writing...

JustinS said...

I think I could be a best selling author if I could just convince everyone to read my shit while stoned.

Think I could get a publisher to ship it with a jacket you could smoke? We need to get NASA or somebody on that ASAP.

Courtney said...

This is a depressing book idea, which probably means I would read it and like it. I'm beginning to think that success doesn't depend on how smart you are or how hard you work, but rather how lucky you are and how many people you know. It sucks.

Julie said...

I think depressing books sell better. How many people actually buy comedic books? Besides, you have a better chance of getting on Oprah with a harrowing story and that's the lazy man's way to do it. Why fight hard for readers when Oprah can hold your book up and you sell two million copies overnight? It's not working hard, Jacob. It's working smart.

Jacob said...

Jeez, Courtney, just completely reject my genius before you're even exposed to it, why don't you? I said I was going to make you embrace the futility and recognize it's beauty, not to depress you. I'm so bummed right now that I may give up ever even bothering to try.

Julie, how dare that you suggest that I ever make money by doing something I actually like to do!

Courtney said...

But I said I would like it! Don't mind me, I'm just in a pissy mood about the state of my future. Now write to your little heart's content.

Chris said...

It's a noble goal, making futility and purposelessness into beautiful and funny concepts. I don't think Oprah would dig it, which I mean as a compliment.
You should just devote your blog to serializing a novel. Then compile it all, revise, rewrite, etc. and try to get it published.
Says the man who could very well do the same, and yet just doesn't blog at all anymore (or work on his novel).

Jacob said...

Are you sure? I think every Toni Morrison book in existence carries the Oprah O on the cover and those are all seem to deal with futility for the main character, although hers just end up kind of depressing, although fascinating if you don't make the mistake of reading too many in a row. Stick to one every year or so and you should be ok. More frequently than that and you may end up killing yourself.

Jacob said...

But, I think Chris is the only one who gets my concept. He'll get to be the name on the Thank You page in my book that will never exist.