Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Advice for Aspiring Writers

Don’t look to get a book published on cancer. There you go, I just saved you a year or more of work. See, you and everyone you know has or will in the future be affected by cancer, or know someone affected by cancer. It will be a deeply moving and emotional experience.

It will not be unique.

How many times have you heard this statement in your life : “I’d like to write a book someday.” Or “I think I could be a writer.” Maybe you’ve even said it yourself.

There are just over three hundred million people in the United States alone. Of those, just under three hundred million of them think they can write a book someday. When they are moved by a tragedy like cancer, I am betting they will try. And when they try to sell that book, they will find out that the market is already clogged with books about

1. Surviving the experience.
2. A retelling of their loved one (parent, sibling, spouse) dying.
3. A guide to what you should know and what the author wishes they knew before the disease hit.
4. How to face cancer with humor.

Why am I telling you this? Well, I have spent the last three weeks working on what I should have been working on all along: my travel memoir about moving to Madrid and traveling around Europe. Do you know how many American’s have done that?

Far less than have been affected by cancer.

I am very proud of it so far. I spent from 9:30 this morning until 5:15 working on it with only a short break to heat up some lasagna. And it feels right. It feels like something that I can sell. It feels like what I should have been working on for a long time so that I can actually, you know, get published again. First revision was done at three o’clock this afternoon. I immediately started second revision, cutting out stories that didn’t come out as funny as I would have liked, remembering blog posts that I wrote that should have been included, writing the second part of “Spaniards” (first part is posted here, link to the right on this page) which is a chapter on things you can expect from Madrilenos and observations about the cultural differences we experienced.

“Night Mare” a.k.a. Marilyn’s Story will still be published but I imagine it will have to be self-published, sold and advertised independently. I’ll make it work. But heed my advice if you or someone you know is affected by cancer: I would keep a blog like I did so you can keep everyone updated on what is happening during the cancer process, but don’t then try to turn it into a book. It’s not unique enough, and most likely, people won’t want to read it anyway since who wants to relive that hell once you’ve been through it? I’m very proud of the book and it is on its last revision, but I doubt an agent is going to make an offer on it. Seventy-five rejections so far sort of hints at that... Don't get me wrong : I think it came out great, I think it's a great story and I think my writing sets it apart from many others (sorry, I know that sounds conceited, but I do.)

I expect to be done with the travel memoir and approaching agents by the end of the month.

I had planned on talking about the above, then adding in my story about watching young lesbians making out in the park, the actual quote “I just like to shoot people” my review of the movie “Coraline” and Magic : Online 3.0 but really, I’m exhausted and that stuff just doesn’t really follow what I’ve already written. So, maybe tomorrow.
As always, click some links if you love me.


  1. Sorry that it didn't work out for you buddy but I think it may be for the best. The travel stories will be a light and funny read while Marilyn's Story had some grim humor but it was not light.

    I don't know about you but Coraline scared the bejeezus out of me. That is NOT a kids movie! Mom turns into skeletal spider with metal needles for fingers and tries to carve your eyeballs out and sew buttons in their place? I have seen stuff that would turn grown men white but that movie literally gave me nightmares.

  2. Well, looking for the self-published book, anyway... As Chris said, the travel stories will be a nice read.

  3. I have skipped the desire to write a book and moved onto the idea of creating a TV show about a 36 year old couple who are about to have their 4th child when the wife's retired parents move in. Their is comedy in that, I am sure of it!! When you ask your dad "do you have that receipt" and he says "yes, I have folded sheets" I see George Lopez and 2 1/2 men all in one series!!

  4. Any hope for the Quest for the Pro Tour #2??

  5. Quest II is in the works as we speak. It will detail the building and tuning of the Brothers Very Grimm and Secret Force and be titled "The Secret Force of the Brothers Very Grimm." Both of which will detail me eventually qualifying with them (as well as Mark Wraith the following week.)

  6. Also, the travel journal/memoir is speeding along and I hope to be approaching agents by the end of this week. I put in 9 hour days on it and curse the clock when I see daylight leaving.

  7. Please keep us updated on when your book about travels will be available. I'm a long time reader of your articles - and now blog - and am interested.

    However, sometimes you might also find the time to write about MtgO 3.0.

  8. Hey Uncle Jamie! I would like a copy of the book. I enjoy reading your blog now and then, it keeps me updated and close :) Anyways, sounds like things are going well. I'd love to hear from you sometime. Keep up the good writing (Oh and just let me know the price of the book and I can send you a check).

    With Love,