Wednesday, August 08, 2007

The Agony and the Suckage-stasy

By Cornelia

The other day on Lee Child's forum, regular and Guinness-fond Reacher Creature Marcus wrote the following, in response to another poster's announcement that he had just finished the first draft of his first novel:

I think "What If" I wrote a book and "what if" it was really good and "what if" I became semi-famous. And "what if" they expected me to write another novel even better then the first? Right here is were I stop with the "what if" because I can see the future and it has FAILURE imprinted across my forehead. I don't have a second book in me. How can I when I don't have a clue as to where the first one came from! LOL

I thought about that for a nano-second and responded as follows:

Here is what happens if you are me: You think OMG, I appear to have written a novel, and it might even kind of sort of be halfway decent if you kind of hold your head to one side and squint at it a little.

And then you realize that you have a two-book contract and you're supposed to write ANOTHER one in the next twelve months, only you suddenly realize it's actually only ten months now because you've been holding your head to one side and squinting a lot.

So then you call your sister and you go, "Oh, crap, I have to write another novel and I so totally suck." And she goes, "you don't suck. Pipe the hell down already. You are the epitome of not sucking. You are like the F. Scott Freaking Fitzgerald of not sucking, already." And I go, "F. Scott Fitzgerald. Oh great. No PRESSURE or anything. Thanks for bringing him up."

And she goes "Dude, I'm kind of at work, here. Do you think you could not suck without me for an hour or so?" And I go, "Um. It's just that, you know, Fitzgerald died drunk and broke and four years younger than me, I think. So you're kind of freaking me out. Because I don't want to die drunk and broke FOUR YEARS AGO and besides with no talent and all the suckage." And she goes, "Call me over the weekend."

And then you call your mother and you go, "What if I totally suck?"

And she says, "Well, maybe you should try going into real estate or something. I mean, what happens if no one likes it? Maybe you only had one book in you, And you probably won't make enough money with the first book, anyway. Because it certainly seems that way so far." And then you go "I don't think I can come to the Tomato Fest and help you with volunteering at the salsa booth this year. So sorry. Gotta go."

And then you call your husband and go, "I totally suck. Even Mom thinks so."

And he goes, "I'm in a meeting. I thought you were calling about something important."

So you hang up and consider throwing up for about an hour. And then you start typing, because, hey... you probably totally suck, but you have a contract which does not have a "Whoa, sorry, I completely spaced on the fact that I totally suck" clause that allows you to back
out of the whole thing.

And eventually you actually finish typing book two, and then your editor makes you rewrite it five times, and then they tell you it will come out in January, so you cross your fingers and start typing #3.

And so it goes. Yee ha.


  1. Thank you for liking my thread title yesterday, Mr. Dusty...

  2. And I love the video!

    Joining you in itotallysuckitis

  3. Deep into itotallysuckitis myself, I can totally relate to this. It's nice to know I'm not alone.

  4. I've never talked to a writer worth his or her salt who didn't feel this way. And the pathological insecurity doesn't end once you write "the end." In some ways it's really "the beginning"...

  5. There are those people who say things like "a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step!"

    And I like to point out "Yeah, well, that's how it ENDS, too, Poindexter, so thanks fer nuthin'."

    Among my favorite little aphorisms I throw at kids when coaching baseball:

    "Don't think. Thinking is bad. No good ever came from you thinking. DOING is where the action is at."

    As painful as it may be, at a certain point the Artist has to allow for the possibility of their own excellence.

    Don't think. Do.

    I'm a veg, Danny.
    B (veg)

  6. You can keep the "Misters" down to one a week, love.

    Although "M'lord" is always welcome.

  7. I'm glad I'm not alone in this all, too. And you guys are funny and excellent!

  8. Plus I think I need a "thinking is bad" bumper sticker. Unless that cancels out?

  9. Love the telegram from Fitzgerald to "Swanie," his famed Hollywood agent.

    The story is told of Swanie having lunch at the Brown Derby. In walks a young man who nervously approaches the agent's table, introduces himself as a writer who's just gotten to town, and asks Swanie what he should write.

    Swanie eyes the callow young fellow a moment, then replies: "Ransom notes."

  10. I've heard stripping the paint off kitchen cabinets often brings about Zen-like moments of writing clarity. And it sucks even more than the fear of failure. Sort of one of those pick your poison kind of things.

  11. I'm one for going to weed the garden when I'm oh so sure I suck.

    Cornelia, darling, surely nomination number two brings the suckitude rating into perspective just a wee tad bit?

  12. Paul, I loved that telegram too. Glad to know who the intended recipient was, and that's a great story about Swanie and the new kid.

    Debby, somehow I just can't find inspiration in the kitchen cabinets... maybe I should take up weeding again, a la Regina...

    And Regina, you'd think so, huh? Not so far, although thinking about #3 is so far easier than thinking about #2.

  13. I so totally suck that I'm late to this thread.

    This from a guy who froze at the keyboard for over a year.

    Yeah, that bad.