One of my favorite Fiction writing “How To” books is entitled Fondling Your Muse: Infallible Advice From a Published Author to the Writerly Aspirant by a gentleman named John Warner. It’s a little off the literary beaten path, and by that I mean, you won’t find any exercises on how to deal with character development. You won’t find any flippant query letter workshop pages. There definitely aren’t any of the dry as toast suggestions as to how to format your manuscript once you’ve written it and need to send it to an agent or publishing house.
There are however, chapters on how to deal with your fame and fortune. For example, one exercise is to envision your future life as a bestselling author. Down to the very minute, to come up with a time table of your bestselling awesomeness and the day you’ll lead and not only write it out on paper, but put it into practice. Immediately.
He actually gives the recipes for success. On recipe cards. For example, want to write that bestselling American novel, might want to use Warner’s recipe for Contemporary American Literary Fiction Flambé:
The book gives great advice on getting over writer’s block. For example, if you’ve already had a go at publishing and did pretty good but are now used up and have nothing left, he suggests having “someone else write your book for you.”
On the next page, his wisdom abounds by offering ideas on product placement in your work. And also, when it comes to revision, Warner suggests “Good enough is good enough, and as long as the words are generally in the right order, you’ll be fine. Don’t get bogged down in the endless cycle of revision, just let it go and move on to the most important part of the whole process: selling your manuscript for as large a sum as humanly possible.”
Gems, damn gems of genius in this book.
I won’t give away the ending or the part about how once you’re famous and the publishing house asks for your next book, all you have to do is send in your grocery list and they’ll give you half a cool million signing bonus for the way you put eggs before bread.
So, if I had a tome that I bow to for it’s hilarity and wit and wisdom, it would be the one about fondling my muse.
Then, I was reading O magazine, that’s right, I’ve got guilty pleasures too.
I like to scoff at the contributing writers, and the questions they answer. This month, it’s all about relaxation. And they are insightful and full of feeling answers that are given.
I started laughing because I wondered what I would say in such a situation, you know, these are the things I need to practice for when fame and fortune grace my door step. Which then made me thing of ol’ John Warner’s book. So in the spirit of an exercise for the days of fame that wait just around the river bend for me, here are my answers to O’s relaxation questions.
I feel most relaxed when…I’m having coffee with my life size cut out of Tina Fey. T-Fee (that’s what she likes to be called), and I spend hours in my office writing fan fiction of Conan the Barbarian (not the movie or the books, the TV show). Then we re-enact what we’ve written and I am transported to my calm place.
I will forever be frazzled by…the lack of pitch forks, shovels, hoes, chain saws, and other accoutrements in my house with which I might need in order to fend off a zombie attack.
When I need to calm down quickly…I kick the shins of the person closest to me and think of it as an exercise in transferences. Be gone evil devils of stress and anxiety, be the problem of thine neighbor forever more. Then, ahhhh, calm is restored.
I can always breathe easy after I finish… chewing a huge bite of food. Especially when I’m sick with a sinus cold, that’s the worst, trying to chew and breathe at the same time and being hungry and you just kind of do this nom nom nom…snort snort snort thing, but once I swallow, phew, totally easy breathing then.
Yeah, I’m totally ready for the bestseller lists.