Why am I writing?Posted: October 27, 2014
Recently, I realized that my personal meterstick of success is whether or not you write. This is sort of a jarring epiphany. It explains too much too accurately. I voted for Obama because his book turned out to be a better story than Romney’s did. I think Atul Gawande is a great doctor because he happens to have written several books. He probably sucks as a surgeon, but what do I care? Everything I know about sawbones comes from the podcast. Gawande’s got books! And they’re pretty good! Sign me up for surgery, doc! Take anything that looks unused.
This attitude opens up a number of worrying vulnerabilities. Hell, I just elected for open-option surgery, and I’m not sure I wasn’t serious. Taking candy from babies doesn’t begin to describe it. If a hedge fund manager had a book, I’d probably hand over my life savings without batting an eyelash.
What I can’t decide is if this delusion is some kind of internal construct fabricated by my brain to convince me that I’m at the top of the social food chain. Probably. I must be an expert if I write so much. But the fallout is just not sustainable. I can’t go giving my wallet to every pickpocket with a Cracked article. Part of the problem being that I don’t have a wallet, having nothing to put within it viz the public service job and moonlit writing gig.
On the other hand, suppose I did have a wallet. We’re walking down the street, me and my wallet, having a great time together, when suddenly a hedge fund manager and a pickpocket spring out of the bushes. The pickpocket says, “give me your wallet! I have a Cracked article!” The hedge fund manager says, “no, give ME your wallet! My book is on the New York Times Bestselling Business Hardcover Nonfiction List!” Who do I give my wallet to? The hedge fund manager, obvs. He has more write-fu. His write-fu-ness overpowers the pickpocket, who leaves in shame.
Now suppose that I had written a New York Times bestselling book, too. The pickpocket has no chance even if he’s alone because my write-fu overcomes his. He slinks away, dejected. However, what of the hedge fund manager?
“My book is nonfiction! That takes technical expertise,” he growls.
“Well my book is about polka dotted dragons and requires imagination,” I retort.
“Mine’s read by adults!”
“I’ve got the teen market!”
“Mine’s about real problems!”
“Mine’s good for mental health!”
“My editor is better!”
“I publish on my merits and not my brand as a TV personality!”
At this, the hedge fund manager reels, his puffy, veiny red face approaching critical blood pressure levels. Soon, his eyes explode and he runs off, howling. My wallet and I, hopefully not too badly splattered, continue to walk down the street.
The only problem with this scenario is that I have not yet written a New York Times Besteller and therefore continue to be vulnerable to exploitation by other writers. I’ve decided that I need to repair this state of affairs as soon as possible. Meanwhile, however, I’ll need to be clever. I wonder what I’d need to pay Dennis LeHane to be my bodyguard.