Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Writers writing on writing writers…

So, here’s a conversation you don’t have at your house. “Honey, should I write a horror novel or a comedy?”

See? I told you.

You might hear people say, “You wanna watch a horror or a comedy,” I mean, sure, you know, that happens. And when you watch something together, you never have to worry about yawning. If Vicky yawned while we were watching a horror move or didn’t laugh at a comedy, I wouldn’t worry. In fact, I might yawn along with her. But, with a book, such would not be the case. “Was that a yawn? Are you yawning? Is it boring you? Maybe I should just throw the whole thing away.”

“Honey,” she’d say, “it’s two a.m. I’m just tired. That’s all.”

“If the book doesn’t keep you up, what good is it?!”

Vicky did not know what she was getting into when she married a writer.

And hey, I’d be happy to act. Don’t get me wrong. The thing is – and there’s always a thing. You could be in a sensory deprivation tank and there’d be a thing. Nowhere do you find something that’s featured as “THINGLESS” – I get to do a lot of writing in my off moments at work. No additional equipment is needed; I just think and type. To act, I’d need to set up a small stage in my office, find the appropriate play and seating would be a bitch. I’m not saying it couldn’t be done but I think there’s a chance someone might catch on.

See, here’s the thing – it’s a different thing, it’s raspberry flavored – I just got done telling Vicky how I think I’ve matured as a writer. I actually said to her that I’ve gotten good at picking my next project to work on and following it through to the end. Where I got that idea, I can’t tell you, but I’m sure it was on late-night TV because, let’s face it, it’s got everything.

I do have this horror novel idea. In fact, I wrote out a detailed outline over a year ago. And it’s good. I mean, we’re talking blockbuster. The problem, though, is that I already know how it ends. See, one of the key things about writing a book is that it helps if you, the writer, are interested. Me? I’ve seen this picture. I know the plot twists. Next film, please!

Then, there’s the comedy novel idea, which seems like a no-brainer to me – not that I’ve ever been fond of that saying. I mean, how can a phrase mean “that’s a smart idea” when you’re talking about people with no brains? Maybe because “giant-colossal-brainer” sounded lame? But all three of my plays were comedies and they did pretty well. I’ve been saving every punchline I’ve though of since Whatever Happened to Me – and I wrote that a year before I met Vicky! – so why wouldn’t I want to use them? Maybe it was Vicky’s response to the idea. Vicky, who has never laughed at one of my jokes, responded to the idea of me writing a comedy with, “Don’t ask me to read it.” And there’s the big fear. I mean, as a comedy writer, when nobody laughs you pretty much have to give up the title. Writers of love stories don’t have to worry so much. They can say, “Of course, you didn’t find it touching. You’re a slob.”

If I needed an example of just how fickle I can be – by which I mean pretty much the opposite of mature – last night, Vicky handed me a stack of papers. “Do you still want me to keep this?” she asked. The stack was the first chapter to a novel I had started about… well, to be honest, I haven’t a clue. But it was well written. I seemed to have some idea back then… “Hey,” I grunted from bed, “Why did I ever stop writing this?”

Vicky remembered it as, “Nobody said they absolutely loved it, which to you means they hated it.”

Touché. Two touchés.

And now, of course, I’m stuck.

But I realized this morning at the gym – at 4:00am how could you NOT realize something – that I so enjoyed writing Climbing Maya that I don’t really want to write another book. I want to keep writing that book. It’s like the first girl you try dating after breaking up. You’d like to enjoy her company but you know the only way that’s going to work is to pull out your wallet and say, “Listen, here’s a picture of my ex. Can you go in the washroom and try to look more like this, please. I’m sure you’re a fine human being but I’m kind of used to this.”

But just so you know, in the end, I stuck with the horror novel. It took a lot of deliberating but, in the end, it came down to the fact that I've been waiting over a year to write this book. It was in line first. That was the whole reason. If that's not like saying, "I'll marry the first biped who walks in this room," I don't know but, hopefully, the outcome will be slightly better...

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