Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Writing Is A Responsibility!

Seriously. I was at the Apple store yesterday, waiting for my Genius, when a cute boy sat down next to me. I was giving him the subtle eyeball-scan when I noticed a tattoo on his inner wrist. Owie, on the most sensitive skin. It was words. I looked closer. It said "Hold On." As in, the refrain James Frey repeated throughout "A Million Little Pieces." I knew guys had had this tattooed on themselves b/c I saw one on Oprah. But this was the first actual person with that tat that I had seen.

So: this dude read the book when he thought it was a memoir, and was so inspired by Frey's tale of kicking addiction that he branded himself with the words Frey howled out of the very depth of his despair.

Never mind that it's not so bright in the first place to get a phrase tattooed on yourself, but I just really wondered how this guy felt now that Frey's been roundly disgraced. Did he tell himself, "Well -- the story still inspired me, even if it turned out to be fiction?" Does he wish he had the cash for some laser treatments? If he saw James Frey walking down Broadway, would he run up and punch him smack on the right temple till he fell down bleeding for real this time?

And how does Frey feel about all this? The first time he saw a "hold on" tattoo, did his heart plummet into his stomach? Did he feel guilty, or did he think, "oh man. I am the biggest rock star. Nobody's ever going to bust me, either."

Side note: I have to say I feel awful for Frey in all of this. He was just trying to illustrate for his readers just how hard it was for him to kick drugs. If you say "I had to kick coke, and it was so hard I thought I would die," people go, "Well, I'm not a drug addict, so I guess it was hard for you but I can't empathize." But if you say "I had to quit coke, and it felt as painful as a root canal without painkillers, as heartbreaking as having a girl you love hang herself, as wonderful as having a mobster who looks like Gene Hackman decide to be your extra father," people go, "Wow, that is really painful, heartbreaking, and wonderful! I get you, writer-man!" Given that, maybe the guy is still OK with his tat.

Or maybe he has no frickin idea Frey has been debunked at all. A month ago I was in a bookstore and A Million Little Pieces was in the "staff picks" section with a rhapsodic description, including the terms "brave" and "memoir." Lacking in self-filtering skills as I am, I ripped the description off the shelf, brought it to the front clerk, and said "You have to not look this stupid. You can't recommend debunked memoirs without at least acknowledging the huge controversy that surrounded them." The front clerk, who bore a striking resemblance to Comic Book Guy from the Simpsons, put his hands up and said, "Every memoir has some untruth." I think I sputtered something about TheSmokingGun.com and stalked out, in flabbergastment. There are people in total denial about the nature of memoir and the facts of this particular case. Maybe this guy's tattoo was fresher than I thought because he just didn't give a hoot about the veracity of the story, only the emotional truth of the moment; I know I just said that was okay, but it's not something to get a tattoo about.

All's I know is, if someone gets a tattoo of anything I write, I'm going to feel really weird about it. From now on, I'm going to write every word as if it could possibly be inked onto some cute young person's epidermis. Um... not really. If I did that I'd never be able to click "publish post." Cuz there's no "edit post" button on a tattoo.

Friday, September 22, 2006

Loving My Editors, Part I

I've been working my sizeable tuchus off for the past few weeks, to the point where I can't even post, for reals now. I finally finished a few days ago and now I just have to catch up with the other deadlines I missed while working on One Big Project. Yay. Dull roar of work rather than shrieking gale.

But that's not the point. The point is, my editor at one magazine just sent me this:

BTW ... our founder and EIC commented specifically on your
stories and said you were really good and funny. She never does that.
I love me. Yay yay for me. Starting the new year off with a bang. Woo!

Saturday, September 09, 2006

contents of my head: tumbleweeds, void.

okay! so. how many days have I pined for a gig where my job is to funny-up somebody else's writing? let's make that years. I haven't had a gig like that since my beloved mag staff-job. and. now I have it again. only. I'VE GOT NOTHING. there's no funny in my head. In fact, I can't remember ever being funny. I don't even know what the word "funny" means. I don't even know how to spell it. I don't know how that last sentence even happened. I'm forgetting how to type even. wfsfaf80e fado0IOJGAijoasdfg98342. OSIDFOIEW!!!! 002q34wsadfjaggggggg...

everyfunny hurts. sometimes. everyfunny cries.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

See, This Is What I'm Talking About

Sometimes I feel guilty about being a writer. Like, what I do is not supposed to be a job, and why do I (and other artists) feel entitled to be able to just do this thing and not have to also do other stuff? (Don't hate on me yet, people; I'm going somewhere with this.)

This article was just in the paper. It's about a highly educated novelist born of highly educated immigrants. He's writing novels that get great reviews, AND he is going to med school. This seems to be what practical people do: "I want to write, but I'm not going to ask for a GRANT for chrissakes. I'll write at 5:30 in the morning for two hours before I start work." This is the Stephen King thing I was ranting about a few months ago, this weird Protestant work ethic thing where I am wracked with guilt if I only write the things that make me feel happy and complete and good and like I'm actually expressing myself through the written word.

On days when I work on paying projects, I feel like, "Okay, good, I'm worth something today." On days when I work on possible-future-projects, or spec fiction, or anything that qualifies as art, I just HATE myself, even if what I wrote is really really good.

This is terrible!

On the other hand, I'm so awe-inspired at people who can do BOTH.

But I mean -- I don't know if I can do both! Unless I take a month at a time to ONLY do one or the other -- make a shitload of money and then coast (moneywise) for a solid month where I only do fiction. I have done that before, now that I think about it. It'd be better if I could divide my days up, but maybe I have to divide my years up instead, and just accept that that's how I work best. And then -- who's to say if I still have my fiction mojo? Maybe I'm killing myself working as hard as I do on the (relatively) lucrative journalism because I fear defeat. ouch, I don't like to think about THAT.

I have no answers, I just was struck by the article and consumed with envy.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Self-Googling PAYDIRT!

Check it out, my bitches! I'm somebody's literary high point!

bar nar nar, nar nar nar, nar nar. Bar nar nar nar. doo doo doo, doo doo doo.
(dancing like snoopy)

I have a whole thing I meant to write but I've been doing WORK instead, and then I misplaced the clip I was going to write about. so sorry. so very, very sorry.