The NaNoWriMo Dialogues: “Let Me Stop You Right There”
Me: Hey, whatcha doing? Doodling more dongs on all my books? Because that’s mature.
You: No. For your information, I’m planning my next steps with this novel, since the month is almost over and I will soon be scoring a bullseye on the ol’ 50,000 words target. Boom.
Me: Congratulations to you.
You: Thank you. I plan on celebrating.
Me: And what manner of celebration are you planning?
You: You know, I’m a writer, so, the yoozh — I’ll sit around in a dark room drinking hard liquor and laughing at all my jokes until I start crying.
Me: That’s a myth, by the way. One I admittedly persist in transmitting, but all writers are not drunks. Hell, some authors don’t even drink.
You: HA HA HA, SURE, GRANDPA.
Me: *stares hot iron pokers through your soul*
You: Fine, I’ll amend my celebration. I seem to recall Delilah Dawson said something about cupcake cannons, so I’ll head down to Party City and grab a couple of those badboys and fire off a 21-cupcake-salute. Red velvet. Right into my deserving belly. CHOOM CHOOM.
Me: So, liquor and cupcakes.
You: Breakfast of Champions, man. And then, soon as I shake off the hangover and the diabetes, it’s onto making this novel the bonafide motherfucking bestseller it is destined to be. That’s what I’m scribbling here — a list of agents and editors who —
Me: Whoa, whoa, whoa, Captain Howdy, let me stop you right there.
You: Wha? Wha’d I say?
Me: I — I just — whhh — vuhhh — muhhhh. MUHGRBLE NNNNGH no! No. No. Is your plan really to finish this book and then just start flinging your story-shaped poo-ball into the inbox of every agent and editor you have chosen to punish? As if they’re dung beetles awaiting your crap?
You: Well. Yeah?
Me: Oh, goddamnit.
You: Hey, now. That’s the whole point of this NaNoWriMo adventure, isn’t it? To write a book, then to get that book published. I mean, holy shit, I’m sure whatever I wrote is better than what Snooki wrote. I figure whatever she turned in was just a ream of papers coated in smeary bronze tanner Snooki-prints. Grumpy Cat gets a book deal. Guy Fieri is still allowed to put words inside of things and sell them to us. You know what I heard? The giant wrecking ball from the Miley Cyrus video has a book deal. I’m not kidding. It’s called, LIFE WITH CHLAMYDIA.
Me: That’s mean. You’re saying Miley Cyrus has chlamydia.
You: No, the wrecking ball caught it from unprotected sex with other wrecking balls. God, you’re very insensitive, you know that? Check your privilege, son. No, Miley Cyrus does not have chlamydia. She has, however, had her tongue replaced with an angry eel. Which is very sad that kids these days feel they need to have these procedures to feel cool and to fit in at —
Me: Just shut up. Shut your sugar hole. No more talky. We need to get back to this poison pill of a plan you’re trying to get me to swallow. Sending off your NaNoWriMo manuscript on December 1st is — to quote Chris Traeger, literally the worst idea you have ever had. Ever. Ever! Ever.
You: Even worse than the time I —
Me: This is not Family Guy. Stop that.
You: Ugh, blech, blergh, whatever. I wrote this fancy book and now I’m not supposed to do anything with it? Just sit on it like it’s a chair? You’re not my Dad. (Wait, or are you?) Whatever. Point is: I did the hard part. Now I need to reap sweet reward.
Me: The hard part. The hard part? The hard part?! Hey, hold on, I’m gonna laugh for 17 minutes.
*18 minutes passes*
Me: There we go. *wipes eyes, blows nose*
You: That was eighteen minutes.
Me: Well, turns out what you said was extra stupid. The hard part is not writing a book. That is actually the easiest part. Writing a book is the Play-Doh phase. It’s just you smooshing words together and screaming out ideas and making your action figure characters do shit and say shit. It’s a drunken clumsy race to the finish line. It’s inelegant. It’s the braying of a donkey. What comes next is not fill up this super-soaker with my word-vomit and hose down the publishing industry with it. What comes next is edit this thing into something resembling a great novel.
You: No, nope, mm-mm, I know what’s happening here. You’re just trying to keep me from competing with you. I know that agents and editors have a job and that job is to take my word-barf and delicately shape it into the flower it’s yearning to become.
Me: December 1st, do you know what agents and editors do?
You: Uh, celebrate all the sweet reads they’re about to get?
Me: They have an underground bunker in Greenbriar, West Virginia. They leave Manhattan in these shadowy buses and drive there. They don’t get to spend Christmas with family or friends, because they go to the bunker for the whole month. The bunker has concrete walls thick enough to withstand a howitzer shelling. They have a supply of food and water. They bring lots of books. Good books. Real books. But the most important thing they don’t bring is a goddamn internet connection because as soon as they jump onto the Information Superhighway they’re gonna get pulped into bloody asphalt treacle by the 18-wheeler mega-truck carrying a flat-bed stacked high with a million shitty NaNoWriMo manuscripts. It’s crazytown up in there. I hear last year they ran out of coffee and Hot Pockets and had to eat a few junior editors and agent interns.
You: So, this bunker — it has a mailing address? I can put together a SASE, which is technically a thing I don’t know, uh, what it is, but I assume it’s an artifact from the forgotten “VCR Epoch” of man that I still see on submission guidelines sometimes, so I’ll just whip one of those together and send it off as soon as you give me the —
Me: I’m not giving you the address. What I will give you is a kick to the face. I will kick you so hard, your face will mold around my foot and become a comfortable flesh-slipper. As I will not have a second slipper, I will then proceed to do the same to some other part of your body. Kidneys. Solar plexus. Ass. Genitals. Whatever. I will wear you as slippers, is what I’m saying, because increasingly, that’s all you’re good for.
You: You know what? The publishing industry doesn’t want my genius, fuck ’em. Gatekeepers! That’s what they’re called, right? They’re like flying babies with flaming swords keeping the riff-raff out of Eden — oh, ho, ho, but we have built our own Eden called self-publishing. Boom. Done. Just click publish! *rips shirt off, starts to tattoo that phrase on chest*
Me: Sure, because that’s what the audience needs. Just piles and piles of garbage floating around their book-shopping experience. You know why I go to a store? To buy products curated by that store. I go to Target because I want to buy a loaf of bread from approved bread-providers, not because I want to look through a thousand different breads from a thousand different amateur hour bread-makers that range from, “Okay, this could be good” to “Oh, someone poured a half-pound of all-purpose-flour in a dirty gym sock and hit it with a flamethrower.” You don’t see a shitpile and go and shit on it in order to make it bigger, do you?
You: What if I do?
You: Well, somebody doesn’t like self-publishing.
Me: Hey, shut up. I love self-publishing. It’s a fantastic option. It’s changed everything. I just happen to like author-publishers who treat this thing as if they’re goddamn professionals. I like self-publishers who want to compete with traditional publishing instead of competing with rats in an alleyway fighting over a spent condom. And being professional means taking it through all the steps to make your book the best book it can become.
You: Ugh, god, fine. I won’t send it off to agents and editors. I won’t just stick it up on Amazon with this really cool MS Paint cover I did of a velociraptor making love to a helicopter. (Spoiler: it’s called RAPTORCOPTER.) I will wait. And I guess you’re going to tell me I need to blah blah blah edit my book so flippity floppity floo it doesn’t suck or something.
Me: Yes, that’s exactly what I’m going to tell you. Repeat after me: writing is when we make the words, editing is when we make the words not shitty.
You: CHUCK WENDIG IS A GIANT POOP SOCK
Me: *kicks face, wears it like a slipper*