You have a fat pic.
You have that one picture from your past that, when you see it, you cringe. You probably pinned it up somewhere to remind yourself never to get that fat again, and then later took it down because it was just too hard to see on a daily basis.
Right now that pic is in a drawer somewhere, maybe in a shoebox, waiting to snake bite you when you least expect it.
Books can be like that, too.
Listen, you have to be egotistical to write a book. Even if you don’t outwardly express it, you have to secretly believe that what you have to say is important enough, or at least entertaining enough, for other people to read. It can’t be some cute little ego, either, like a little chickadee you keep in your soul. A little chickadee of ego gets you to the local coffee shop so you can be seen pretending to be a writer. (I once saw a pretender at a coffee shop–I wasn’t there to write, I swear!–writing on black paper with white ink. Look at me! I’m a writer! My black paper shows that I’m brooding and complicated. Oooh. Aaaah.)
The point is, a chickadee of ego isn’t enough for anything more than a diary and a hoax. If you really want to write, your secret ego must be a phoenix, and you should write in a little room in your cold basement in the wee hours before work.
With such an ego in my soul, and in such a cold basement, I write books that I think are awesome.
Sadly, some times they’re not. Some times they suck.
This fact is hard to swallow when your ego is a giant, flaming bird.
I’ve written three books in the past few years (okay, four) that were bad. You will never read them or even know their titles, because like the proverbial fat pic they’re in a drawer, never to be revealed to the public.
Oh, but they do snake bite.
Just this morning I was working on my new book (it’s effing awesome, phoenix screeeeee!) and I thought to myself, man, there’s a passage in one of those drawer books that would probably work really well right here. So I got that fat pic out and found that passage.
Jeez, it was bad. And it made me realize that I’ve learned so much since I started on this journey. I don’t mean I learned about writing; that’s a given. I mean I learned about myself, because, just like when you see that fat pic and cringe, if you were to take a moment to recall who you were and what you doing when that fat pic was taken, you might see that you were probably pretty happy. You didn’t know, as the camera was lifted to the eye and you were asked to say cheese just after doing that keg stand, that you would later look back upon the picture in horror. You were just there, in your life, having fun, being with friends, and smiling.
Just like when I was writing those awful books. When they were done, I was like, “Hell yeah! This’ll punch Hemingway right in the nuts, bitch!” I was thrilled with what I had done and with what I was doing. And even if future me can look back on past me with the knowledge that I was way too fat to have a camera pointed at me, I’m glad I was just enjoying the moment.