Month: February 2012
[The following is a slightly-tweaked-and-updated version of one of Writing Wednesdays’ most popular posts.]
I have a recurring dream. In the dream I’m invited to climb into the back seat of a limo that’s about to drive off to someplace fabulous. The dream always ends badly. It’s trying to tell me something.
Publication day—or any date when we launch a project that we’ve worked on long and hard—is like getting into the back seat of that dream limo. Launch day gets our hopes up. We’re human. We’re prey to the folly of anticipating rave reviews or long lines outside the theater; we’re itching to check the grosses or the day’s sales on Amazon. I’ve been up and down with these expectations through ten books and a bunch of movies and I can tell you one thing:
Of the two possible outcomes—a flop or a hit—both are delusions.Read More
Last week Shawn talked about publishers selling their own books, via his post Last Year’s Model. I want to see publishers doing more of their own selling—and I want digital libraries, too. Part I: Pay Attention 1998 was the year of You’ve Got Mail. Meg Ryan played the owner of the independent book store being forced out of business by the big chain store going up around the corner. Booksellers embraced the film for being on target with what was going on in the book world. Looking back, right on target would have been a film about online sharing and…Read More
One of the things you learn writing fiction is to think in metaphors. The first draft of any novel or screenplay usually spills forth in blissful cluelessness. You tell yourself, I’m writing a detective story, or a Western, or some crazy genre that I don’t even know the name of. Then comes Draft #2 and you have to ask yourself, “What the hell is this thing about?” That’s when metaphor comes in. It took me a long time to learn this, and a lot of people had to hammer me and my work pretty hard. Words like “shallow,” “slick” and…Read More
A friend of mine is a business consultant. A damn good one too. About ten years ago we went out for a couple of beers so that he could ask me my opinions about the state of the book publishing business. He wanted to know where I thought it was heading. What global strategic initiatives would I recommend he investigate for a “blue sky” presentation he was putting together? He and his partner had been put on retainer by a very powerful figure in the business (the head of one of the big six publishing companies) and were asked to…Read More
My friend Paul is writing a pilot. He’s never done a piece of writing this serious before. The work is totally on spec. Paul has a full-time business and has to do his writing at odd hours. A couple of weeks ago he had a crisis that made him almost suicidal. When I describe it to you, you’ll say, “Man, have I been there!” A script for a TV pilot is about fifty-five pages long. Paul was on Page 52. He went home after work, sat down at his laptop and opened up the script to (blank) page 53. But…Read More
It was 1961 and Dwight Eisenhower was still going back to that game in 1912—West Point v. Carlisle. West Point and Carlisle were winning teams. One featured two future generals—Eisenhower and Omar Bradley—and the other featured all-around athlete and gold-medal-winning Olympian Jim Thorpe and the now-legendary Coach Pop Warner.Read More
So I’m at the health club the other day. And like most health clubs, there is a ceaseless barrage of aural and visual input. Grunts reminiscent of a maternity ward come from a beer bellied guy who wants everyone to know that he’s just bench pressed 112.5 pounds. A personal trainer checking his cell phone, halfheartedly beseeches for “just one more” Russian tea kettle swing from an elderly lady wearing a leotard circa 1973. The screams and strained cheerfulness all awash in the pulse pounding club music pouring out of the gym’s suspended speaker pods. But what really catch my…Read More
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