Thursday, April 16, 2009

Keep a spot on your bookshelves for this puppy

I have a lovely friend who is operating a half-way house for recovering addicts and alcoholics. She is a personal hero even though she is about 20 years younger than I am. She makes me just a little (sigh) ashamed of myself. She makes me feel ashamed because she is giving so much of her, while still remaining a delightful person to be around, with a nice and positive outlook on life.

It’s not that I have a lot to feel ashamed about. At least not much these days. Hey, I learned my lessons a long time ago. But, sometimes I feel ashamed when I don’t see myself embracing who I am and where I am in this life – and to be anywhere in this life is better than not being in this life – I think.

Anyway, why I am feeling like this is simple. Over the last week I have embarked on a new book-length writing project. I mean, I already have two unpublished manuscripts kicking around, and I will definitely send both out again. They haven’t been abandoned. But, this one has currently caught my interest and has added a little verve to creative enterprise.

I like to think it’s going to be good.

I could be thoroughly, even laughably wrong about that.

So, it’s in that realm that I envy my friend. What she is doing is something of tangible worth. I am doing something of nebulous worth. You can see what she is doing. You can only hear about what I’m doing – from me. But, for all you know, I might be spending my entire day surfing porn sites or making spurious connections on Facebook.

When I was younger I had romantic visions of what it would be like to be a professional writer. It was indeed something I had always wanted to be. I went into the newspaper business primarily because I thought being a journalist would almost automatically qualify me to be a writer of books. Those romantic visions included:

- living in a bed-sit in Chelsea or a NYC walkup.
- Having intimate liaisons with young and highly impressionable college girls.
- Scribbling notes in smoky cafes in Paris and contributing to that smoke with my own Galoises.
- Drinking excessively to mask my personal pain. All writers got personal pain.
- Siring assorted children with assorted people.
- Being insulting to guys like Salman Rushdie at fancy-ass cocktail parties. You know, calling him a “sellout” and stuff.

You’ll notice there is not much mention of actual writing in that scenario. That’s because the actual writing is the hard part. Well, not really the ‘hardest’ part, the hardest part is the selling of something that contains droplets of your blood.

What I will say is that the actual writing is the loneliest part of the process. I now have the freedom to do what I always wanted, and sometimes it’s scary. Mainly it’s lonely.

In that I don’t mean lonely in the sense that I want a lot of people hanging around when I am ‘in process’. Indeed I do not. If I need a people injection, I can go out for a coffee. No, the loneliness comes from the process of my connecting only with what is going up on a little rectangular screen. Zappo, my thoughts are transferred to that screen.

But, what if the thoughts are no good? What if they are badly expressed? How can I know that? ‘I’ can think they’re good. But somebody else has to think they’re good. This is especially true if the writer is not some disgraced celebrity, for example. Those people always get book contracts and it doesn’t matter what crap they spew to their ghostwriter, their musings will be on a Barnes & Noble shelf in no time. True, they’ll all end up in the remaindered bin in three months, but at least they’ll be out there.

Enough about my angst. Suffice it to say I am doing something about putting into written form something about which I know something. It’s a project that has been in the offing for about seven years. It’s about my work counseling addicts and running a rehab. I want it to be succinct, scrupulously honest, candid and sometimes even humorous. That’s what I want. I have no idea if I’ll succeed.

Wish me luck, give me a hug, and I’ll keep you informed about the process as time goes by.



Blogger andrea said...

Nicely said -- and honest. I love this quote I read yesterday:

The only thing I was fit for was to be a writer, and this notion rested solely on my suspicion that I would never be fit for real work, and that writing didn't require any.

Russell Baker (1925 - )

7:23 PM  
Blogger Janice Thomson said...

What an excellent idea Ian - I very much look forward to that book. With your keen insight and wonderful sense of humor, I can see that taking off with out a hitch. Yes, do keep us posted.

8:40 PM  
Blogger Sugar said...

(((HUGS))) Good luck!

9:57 PM  
Blogger Sugar said...

Oops, I meant to add that there will be a spot on my bookshelf for your book!

9:58 PM  
Blogger meggie said...

Many fierce hugs to you Ian, with loads of Good Luck thrown in for good measure. I am sure your venture will be a success.

11:17 PM  
Blogger Dumdad said...

Ha, I could have written this post! Writing a blog's a piece of cake but writing a book is a whole different world. I, too, have two unpublished novels languishing in a drawer. And I have notes and scribbles and (half) ideas for a third. But, but... I prefer being the anguished dreamer, drinking wine and thinking deep (ho, ho) thoughts and drinking more wine....

4:50 AM  
Blogger Jelica said...

Good luck with the book! I enjoy reading your posts so I'll keep that space on the bookshelf :)

6:46 AM  
Blogger Voyager said...

I once was told by a writer I admire, "if you can write blogs like that, you can write a book". Ian, you have many books in you by that measure. Best of luck. I too have illusions (in my case delusions?) of writing a book, and I'm actually planning on taking two months off later this year to put all my notes and half finished chapters into something finished. I probably need something like two years off though.
Maybe I should just go live in a garret in Paris.

9:42 AM  
Blogger Jazz said...

I'm sure it'll be very good. Not a doubt in my mind. As for envying your friend because she is doing something useful, I envy you because you are doing something you love and are good at.

There's always someone more enviable than ourselves out there - at least according to us.

Wow, such words of wisdom on a Friday afternoon. That's just so wrong coming from me, and on so many levels.... *shudder*

11:56 AM  
Blogger jmb said...

I have a great envy of writers, those who have a great command of words, those who have something to say.

Good luck and I will be only to happy to buy a copy when it takes pride of place in bookstores.

2:10 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Good for you, and good luck. I'll clear a space.

3:45 PM  
Blogger heiresschild said...

i certainly wish you all of the best. without a vision, people perish, so at least you have a vision. though the vision tarries, wait on it, for it will surely come. my dreams are what have been keeping me going, and i can definitely see a lot further now than what i used to. to me, that means i'm a little closer to achieving them than what i used to be.

i remember when you talked about one of your books a couple of years ago, and many of us said we'd certainly buy it. i'm still looking forward to it and any ones you do after that one is published. i have faith in you and your writing abilities. keep hope alive!

7:26 PM  
Blogger Selina Kingston said...

Lots of hugs to you, Ian. Your book is going to be great because you are a fabulous writer.

I have two and a half books buzzing around in my head that are starting to interfere with the business of life! I need time ...and more importantly courage, to do something about it though. I probably never will, knowing me.

Which is why, like your friend, YOU are to be admired. Don't dismiss the fact that you too have been there for people in need and still are, if the kind, solid, wise advice that you have offered me so far is any measure. Thank you for that.

Good luck to you - I look forward to reading ALL your books some day

10:57 AM  
Blogger kimber the wolfgrrrl said...

When the writing gets too lonely and you need a coffee & conversation, you send me an email. I'd like to wish you good luck over a latte, and I'm sure we could entice Spider and Tai to join us.

11:16 PM  
Blogger geewits said...

It really is a shame that someone interesting like you has to toil and hope while President Dumbass Texan is offered $7 million for a book. Best wishes and good luck. I'm working on a screenplay just for fun and maybe that makes it easier.

11:19 PM  
Blogger Lulu LaBonne said...

lots of luck and a big hug - I'll look forward to hearing about further developments

11:49 PM  
Blogger lady macleod said...

I love Andrea's quote - and oh baby I feel your pain ("...all writers got pain"...uh huh). It without a doubt the most terrifying and lonely experience but it makes me brilliantly happy that I am not and never wanted to be a stand-up comedian - I truly think that would be even more frightening. I'm sending cyber hugs and a (discreet) kiss your way. One foot in front of the other and there's my favourite writing quote: "The first draft of anything is shit, so you may as well write it." Hemingway - not a role model for life, but the man could write.

11:13 AM  

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