5 Random Things: No Guarantees

Posted on 06 March 2013

1. I was recently discussing my possible future plans for my writing — and the uncertainty related to those plans — when a wise person told me: “There are never going to be any guarantees for you as a writer. The only guaranteed result you’ll find is if you stop writing right now and never try again.” So true, right?

2. One of my writing friends, who has begun work on his first novel, decided to focus on writing a good book instead of a brilliant book. He said he came to this conclusion after spending his younger years chasing musical genius instead of focusing on simply making good music first. With that said, I believe the novel he just started has the potential to surpass “good.”

3. A female reader who calls herself a sucker (romantically) for writers asks the Gentleman Scholar, “What do writers want in a woman? How do I find and keep one? Do you know any single ones?” Check out his response for such practical advice as: become a stand-out flapper, encourage him in his delusion that you are Anne Frank, land a job on MTV News, avoid the male writers who mistake romantic partners for muses, and more. He also adds: “My editor was hopeful that I would be able to deliver ‘some delightful witticism on the difference or sameness between [female writers] and the men,’ but all I could do was to offer you an opinion upon one minor point—a woman must have money and a room of her own if she is to write fiction; and that, as you will see, leaves the great problem of the true nature of woman and the true nature of fiction unsolved.”

4. Beware the bad-news contracts from this new Random House imprint for sci-fi authors: no advance, authors are responsible for set-up costs, and the contract is for the length of the copyright.

5. Downith tagged me in a search for favorite first novels. In no particular order, I’ll say Wise Blood, The Edible Woman, A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, To  Kill a Mockingbird, and Behind the Attic Wall (a childhood favorite of mine). And, okay, also The Virgin Suicides, A Confederacy of Dunces, A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, Anywhere But Here.

Your turn. Tell me: one of your favorite first novels; whether you’re shooting for “good” or “brilliant;” why you would or would not want to date a writer; and what in life does come with a guarantee.

Photo: Fanboy30


10 responses to 5 Random Things: No Guarantees

  • Teri says:

    Favorite first novel, TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD. Nothing else even comes close. I still read it every other year or so.

    Never say never, but I’d never date a writer. Too much shop talk. Besides, I’ve always been a sucker for the lead guitar player.

    I was aiming for brilliant before actually ever wrote anything. Now I just want coherent sentences sprinkled with some truth crystals.

    Guaranteed in life? Puppy love. As in, real puppies.

  • Downith says:

    I’m shooting for turning the brilliant sentences that float around in my head into good enough sentences on the page.

    And your number 1? So true. I’m sticking it on my bulletin board.

  • Downith says:

    Oh and another damn fine first novel is Crow Lake by Mary Lawson.

  • anna says:

    Bluest Eye, Catch 22, Wuthering Heights, The God of Small Things, One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, Fight Club…. writing these makes me wonder how they did it, how they shot out of the gate with such strength and passion. “A woman must have money and a room of her own if she is to write fiction.” There’s the rub.

  • Catherine says:

    The Beautiful Things that Heaven Bears by US/Ethiopian writer Dinaw Menghistu. Dreamy pace and lovely authenticity. I’ve bought his second but haven’t opened it yet.
    I dunno, I don’t think shooting for ‘good’ is the right thing. I think you have to sweat blood. Look at the competition out there. Lists of young writers! You have to find your voice, your truth, your grace. Ah not easy.
    I wouldn’t date a writer because I went there with a photographer and two creative minds can easily clash, overrlap, override. I prefer to fit together. Peace.
    The guarantee is that I won’t be making any money out of this. It helps to keep your expectations low.

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