I’ve often heard people ask, “Is there is a book inside me?” Thankfully most people move on to other more important questions such as “What is for dinner?” In doing so, they avoid dealing with the challenges of authorship and the world is a safer and better place as a result.
Given the two million new books published each year in this country, there are apparently a number of us not content to move on to dinner and insist on dealing with this thing we perceive growing inside. Yes, there is an obesity problem that is not helped by an obsession with our next meal. Still, it might be easier for us all to walk an extra five thousand steps today and avoid the landslide of books by first-time authors.
So what can you do if you cannot think of dinner while a story idea keeps spinning in your head? If a book or anything for that matter is inside you, there are only three options. You need to either leave it alone, cut it out or let it pass naturally from your body in a process that usually involves some amount of effort and at least a modicum of foul odors.
For most of us, the book inside us is not hurting anyone. Like most things that are inside our body, for example, our organs – heart, lungs, and liver – they are intended to stay there. This is for the best. Bad things happen if they leave the body and you should consider whether your book should remain tucked between your ribs where it will be safe and do no harm to you or others.
The second alternative is that your book needs to be cut out of your body. This may be necessary if your book is causing pain or seems likely to burst through your chest as the little monster did in the original Alien movie. Should your book prematurely erupt from your ribcage, no one will be able to finish breakfast and you will get all the blame. Removing a festering book is best handled by a skilled professional such as a surgeon, therapist, or, at last resort, an editor. The book, once removed, should be disposed of as the hazardous waste it is.
The third option is to let the book pass naturally through or possibly be forcefully expelled from your body using the nearest, hopefully appropriate, orifice. As described here, the act of writing a book is basically another form of excretion. As we all know, excretion involves moving something from inside your body to the outside. This sounds simple but is often accompanied by a certain amount of suffering, assorted sound effects and some of the previously referenced smells. At best, this process has been described with sentimentality as giving birth to a child. At not best, this process is closer to another form of bodily discharge that is top of mind for most of you right now. In either case, no one wants to see your home movies.
Given this state of affairs, you might wonder why anyone bothers to write, given it involves a painful process and an end result that is likely destined for immediate waste treatment and disposal. I could make up an answer because, by and large, that is what writers do, but it might be simpler to share my personal experience.
In my case, I write because it would be more painful to keep the words contained than it is to expel the mess. If I were to be honest about it, the book or books inside me are closer to kidney stones at their most painful, tumors at their most harmful and the rest of the time just simple constipation.
In short, I write because I have to. It hurts too much to keep it all inside. My apologies to the readers who have to suffer through the results, but I have pent-up pressure in my gut and insistent voices in my head that both demand release.
There are other external forces at work trying to stop me, yet I persevere. There are times I read what others have produced and it can make me want to give up. There are some books written by skilled artists or even individuals with a certain level of genius. When I read those books, I am convinced that I should not attempt to write anything because I know I cannot come close to matching the quality of their work.
On the other hand, I have read (or at least started to read) many books, including bestsellers, that are best described as pure crap. When I read these books, I am encouraged to write. I am also convinced that my excretion theory of artistic creation is accurate. If this crap can get published, my equally crappy if not slightly better crap should be published.
This could explain why I tend to write humorous works as there are times when any old crap is funny. Ask a twelve-year-old boy. Serious works have to stand next to the works of Fyodor Dostoyevsky, Homer, Jane Austen and other authors of note. That is a difficult standard to meet. In a just universe, people who write humor could be compared to Mark Twain, Dorothy Parker, or Douglas Adams. Since we do not live in a just universe, the standard against which humor is measured is more often a how-many-x-does-it-take-to-screw-in-a-light-bulb joke. In the arena of “so bad, it’s good” I can survive.
How many First-Time Authors does it take to screw in a light bulb?
Buy my book and you will find out.
I hope this short essay has provided a chuckle and given food for thought. If I have persuaded at least one person to keep the book inside them where it belongs (inside them), then I will have accomplished my goal. The world is a better place and there is less competition for my next book.
For more First-Time Author jokes, go here.