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Weekly Column by Andy Grieser
Column by Andy Grieser

August 30, 2002

I’m writing a book.

Okay, everyone and their brother is "writing a book." Usually, it means a few scrawls on a cocktail napkin that, but for the lack of time, would knock John Grisham and Stephen King off the shelves and guarantee a life of luxury.

Thing is, I’ve done it twice before. I co-wrote two non-fiction books during my newspaper days, though aside from helping pay down my college loans, they didn’t come close to giving me a life of luxury. That’s not the point. The point is that you get to see an honest-to-God book with your name on it. You can take your grandkids to the Library of Congress, and they’ll be able to find your name. You can read reviews on Amazon by folks who can barely master l33t.

This is why I found a recent Sex and the City so damn funny. I’m with the Ron Livingston character: You coulda thrown my book parties in a closet and had room for the bar. You just can’t go into this thing expecting glamour. Especially not huge parties involving cosmos and paparazzi.

Another thing bugs me about Sex and the City: Is Carrie Bradshaw living off of an inheritance or something? I’ve done the freelance thing, and have friends who sort of make a living at it. I say "sort of" because you really have to work your ass off all day to approximate a full-time salary. That doesn’t mean it can’t be done. Some magazines pay pretty well, and it does look like Carrie at least does some sort of work for Vogue, but absolutely no way would she be able to buy all those high-dollar chic outfits. Not in Manhattan.

Okay, back on topic: I’m writing a book.

I haven’t written a novel before. It’s far more challenging than non-fiction, though curiously so because I set the damn thing in the real world. Weird, isn’t it? Non-fiction is easy, because you write about the everyday world. But try and create it, and it gets difficult. Throw in a dose of magical realism (a la the excellent works of James P. Blaylock or Tim Powers) and you’re back to relatively easy, because now the writer makes the rules.

This sort of writing — long story arcs over multiple chapters, rather than quick entertainment features or short fiction — doesn’t come easily to me. I find myself constantly daunted by space. Yeah, I’ve got an outline of the plot, sort of. (I took a plot I started years ago, shredded it and am starting fresh.) But I’ll write what I think is a great chapter, and it takes up something like seven pages in Word.

Damn journalism training.

I’m not yet confident about this project. It’ll take a whole lot of work, and certainly won’t turn me into a literary figure or a multimillionaire. My saving grace is that I went back and reread my first attempt, and it’s pretty good. Please note: I hate to read my own writing. I’m my own worst critic. So to like what I’d started was a pleasant surprise. Also, I seem to write fairly good sex scenes. If nothing else, I can always make a career in romance novels.

Hee… "manroot."

The worst part is that the story isn’t flowing out of me. Parts of it do, to be sure, but building a bridge between them will take a lot of sweat. I’m a perfectionist when it comes to writing, and won’t let myself just bang out a shoddy framework. Besides, then all those writers I made fun of in this space a couple of weeks ago would be able to get me back.

I’ll keep y’all updated.


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