Last night while poking through my feed reader I happened upon Cranking by Merlin Mann. I discovered Merlin’s work through twitter a couple of years ago, where he immediately became “that guy who tweets like a poetic gunslinger”.
Merlin’s been nose deep in writing a book, but somewhere along the line he lost his way, allowing himself to turn the crank at the price of his authentic voice while sacrificing priceless family time. I like to believe he can have his cake and eat it too, if not for him (or myself) than for the notion that it’s possible.
I’ve shamelessly included a glimpse of his line in the sand, if you don’t mind getting choked up, I suggest reading it in its entirety.
Well. If you’ve made it this far, you, like my editor (who is awesome), will have realized that this is not a chapter of “email stuff.”
It’s a very long, wooly, histrionic, messy and uncomfortable story about hospital beds, piggy jammies, and styrofoam hats. I seriously doubt it will please my editor. Who is awesome.
So, no, I really hope she doesn’t cancel My Book Contract. But, it does occur to me that said contract is the last and only thing my publisher has to intimidate me into doing things I don’t want to do. Things I think will harm my book, my integrity, and my life.
Once that threat is made good, the game ends. They can sue me and yell and stuff. Which would suck, but at least no one would be demanding my book have fucking pussy willows on the cover. Which, as I sit here, feels more and more unbearable to me.
In any case, I don’t control anything that anyone does. It took a long time for me to really get that.
It’s such a funny thing. Threats–like hurricanes and rectal exams–are only scary until they arrive. Once they’re over, they’re just the basis for funny stories. But, you do nearly always survive them. And, if you didn’t survive? It wasn’t because of a lack of fear. Like I say, the universe doesn’t particularly care whether you’re scared.
Oh, well. I like my editor. She’s awesome. I hope she doesn’t cancel My Book Contract. I hope we keep working together.
But if it goes away today, tomorrow or further on? Well. As a favorite novelist of mine used to say: “So it goes.”
I’ll figure this out tomorrow. Or Monday. Or later. Tonight is Daddy-Daughter Night. And, no fucking way am I missing two in a row.
Now, as far as My Goddamned Book? Truthfully? Wanna hear the really complicated part?
This is not me quitting the book. No fucking way. This is me doubling down on the book–on my book.
I will finish my book very soon. Not because of (or in spite of) any contract, and not because of (or in spite of) any editor, and certainly not because of (or in spite of) any tacit demand for empty cranking.
I will finish my book because I want to finish it. Because it is very, very important to me to finish it.
But, again, let’s be clear– what I finish will be my book. And, it will be done my way. And, yes–you Back to Work fans knew this one was coming–my book will have my cover that I choose. It will not have fucking pussy willows or desert islands or third-rate kerning. It will be, to quote my editor (who is awesome), “messy.”
My book will help and comfort the people that I want to reach. And, yes, much like my editor, my book will be awesome.
I truly hope my book pleases her.