Yes, I said. Yes, yes, yes. I am interested. I was born interested in writing a book.
Me in front of the house I'll buy with the never-ending royalties I'll earn from my book of hilarious chubby sports stories
In fact, back in 1974 when I was deep into my "Little House on the Prairie" phase I told people I was going to be a writer when I grew up. My mom said writers didn't make a lot of money, and maybe I should think of a back up plan, just in case.
So I eventually went to college and got degrees in Fine Arts and English. Then I taught drama for a while, and then through a series of unrelated events I've ended up being a self-proclaimed Twitter Maven who makes weird videos with her mannequin.
I fail at backup plans, apparently.
My mom also told me that Laura Ingalls Wilder was dead, when I said I needed her address so I could write her a fan letter. Hey, before you get all huffy, my mom isn't a dream killer, she's just practical.
So when the pixie dust wore off that first email the agent sent (I should really print it out and frame it...maybe send it to my mom for Christmas?) I sent her an email back that said "I want to write a book, but I can't figure out what to write about. Can you help me?"
Yes, she said. I'll help you, which made me so happy that I decided I need to go out and buy her a present. Which I will do. Soon.
And so began a series of emails flowing with ideas and sample stories sent off for her review, and honest answers and enduring patience (on her part.) After a few tangents and round-abouts, we came back to this blog and the funny little fitness stories, which aren't always about the actual thing I'm writing about, but about the bigger things I'm thinking about.
Finally, I came up with an idea she thought might fly, and she said I needed to write my first three chapters so she has something to start pitching to a publisher. She's sold a few best sellers and she seems to know what she's doing (of course I Googled her.)
This will be a piece of cake, I thought. I'll have those chapters done in a week, and then she can sell the book by Christmas, and then I'll plow through the rest of the chapters in a month or so, and then I'll see my finished paperback at Costco this Spring. No sense dragging this whole thing out.
And wouldn't it be funny if I don't tell my family about the publication date, but I just casually say to the kids when we're at Coscto buying huge bags of broccoli, "Let's go look at the new books...oh my goodness! Look at this, it's MY book!" and then I'll buy 100 copies and hand them out at Thanksgiving and as door prizes at Tweetups.
Well, it turns out this whole writing a book thing is harder than it looks. I worked on one chapter for days and days and it's still not right. It's just not that funny.
I gave it to a friend to read and she said she liked it, and that it was kind of David Sedaris like. I'm going to buy her a present just for saying that, but the truth is, it's NOT Sedaris-like. At all. Because it's not funny. And it's sort of boring. And it's driving me crazy, trying to fix it.
So then, another friend who's published a few books of his own said "Stop writing that chapter! Move on to the next one. Maybe it will be funny." Which was very smart advice, so now I have to buy him a present too. And I also have to start writing that chapter. Which I will. Soon. Maybe after I finish this post, even. Or tonight.
I realize all these presents I have to buy are eating into my future advance that I may or may not get, for a book I have not written, that may or may not get sold. But they're worth it, I think, because if I don't get feedback from people, this book will just sit in the back of my brain forever.
And one thing I've learned so far is there's no way anyone, even a brilliant agent, can sell a book that is just a series of nice little ideas in my head. I have to write them down. So I have to keep trying, not crying. It's like saying I'm a runner, but not actually running. Eventually, someone calls me on it, and I put on my shoes and go. And voila - more blog fodder.
Also, I've learned that David Sedaris is doing the rest of us writers a disservice by making it look so easy. I mean, sure, he has much better material to work with than I do (if I were a gifted, Greek, angsty gay man living in New York City and Paris with a lovely partner named Hugh, this book would be much easier to write, believe me) but when you read his stuff, you think "Hey, he just sat down and started talking into his typewriter and now he's selling millions of books, how hard could it be?"
Thanks Mr. Sedaris. Thanks a lot. You're so not helping me and my fragile writer ego, here. But if you can give me some pointers I will definitely buy you a present, too.