Monday, October 4, 2010

Could This Be the End of TG?

TG just finished a military thriller/mystery that he liked quite a bit. He can't share much about it until the review runs, but it was by an old pro who also writes a lot of non-fiction. The man has a nice style. Here's how one of the chapters begins. (A group of Army men and women are on the beach at night in Mexico. Is there any scenario more fraught with the possibility of danger?)

“Our fire had gone out. A crescent moon barely shown, but starlight paled the beach. The sea rasped. You could feel the hot weather coming by the lingering warmth in the sand. Jerry passed the bottle of tequila.”

The coming hot weather, that bottle of just know that something bad is going to happen. And it does.

Next week TG is headed out to his annual Beach Week with his fellow members of the Squatting Toad Writers Group, who have been mentioned in these pages before. It will surely be the usual bacchanal: writing, arguing, drinking, staggering along the beach at night (cue the bottle of Tequila) watching an entire season of Dexter over six days. But it is also a time of reflection, a time when the aging TG sits on the porch, smokes a few cigars and thinks over his years in the publishing business and ponders that eternal question: “When the hell is it ever going to pay off?” It hasn't so far.

Sure, TG's life sounds glamorous: reading free books day after day; penning quick, biting reviews that can break or make a fellow writer's career; interviewing famous thriller masters -- oh how we laugh and joke -- drinking heavily to ensure a steady flow of ideas (see earlier blog entry on the place of alcohol in the profession); astounding Mrs. Thriller Guy with his clever observations and profundities. And being paid, albeit poorly, for all of the above fun. Yes, it's a heady existence. But, and TG hates to say this, it's beginning to pall.

Truth be told, the publishing business has been in, as TG has mentioned before, a terrible slump. Two of TG's novels, a long one and a short one, remain unsold even though his tireless agent continues to send them out. (Don't forget, Harry Potter was rejected 12 times before some publisher had the glimmer of intelligence it took to take it on.) And recently TG lost a celebrity ghost writing deal that fell apart at the end because of perfidy on the part of the celebrity, unseemly behavior by a pair of agents, words shouted in anger where TG was pronounced, “Not only a terrible writer, but The Worst Writer in the World!” Surely that can't be correct, can it? And the amount of money that eventually went to some other writer (good luck to you, pal, whoever you are) was simply staggering. Yes, TG has had many such deals such as this collapse under him before. But this one was different, somehow; it had the ring of finality. The sound. as one of my writer friends once put it, of the slap of a shovel on the earth of a newly dug grave. See, now TG is so upset he's gone and mixed his metaphors.

SO TG is going to think about it. Maybe he's spent enough time in this scribbling life. Maybe it's time to wash the stench of ink stained words from his arthritic hands. (God, this man can Really Write.) Let's try out the words to see how they might sound.

I quit.

TG will let you know what he decides.


  1. Oh, TG, say it ain't so. I don't want you to quit. Hey, are you just fishing for compliments and a 'pretty please?' If so, 'pretty please with a cherry on top.'
    Where would we be if George Washington had given up at Valley Forge. We'll all be speaking English! Oh, wait... what?

  2. Oh wow.
    This feels like the season finale cliffhanger episode of a favorite TV series.

    The sun hasn't quite set yet because the sky is ablaze with splashes of yellows and reds.

    Our hero, a bit tired and alot drunk, standing on the beach, staring at the ocean with a half empty tequila bottle in hand, takes a deep breath and in slow motion, screams at the ocean. But the sound has been (creatively) cut off and we, the viewer, can only imagine the rage that shoots out into the darkening evening.

    Thriller Guy stares at the bottle for a beat and looks as if he is deciding wether or not to pitch the bottle into the sea.

    The camera pulls back, leaving our hero standing there wondering his fate.

    Then the scene freezes and bright yellow words get typed across the bottom of the screen


    Fade to black.

    As I sit there thinking of that final scene that lies burned on my eyeballs, I hope that there is at least a few more seasons in the old man. But then, I consider the fact that maybe he wants to move on and do other creative things. Paint. Photography. Maybe something not yet even thought of.

    Either way, I think, he's earned a rest. If nothing else, he has earned a change. But one thing is certain. He is NOT the 'worst writer in the world.'

    Hell no. Far from it.

  3. Maybe you need a better agent. :)

    Time travel books were dang good.

  4. We who know your work hope you will write more and that the publishers will make it available to us. We who have worked with no apparent appreciation for our efforts, or even received mostly the sense of outrigh interference with it, understand your frustration and can relate to it. We are but background characters in your life and our desires matter little measured against whether you find your writing rewardng (for your sould and for food and retn money)- this reader hopes you find joy in your work and play, whatever they might be. And if need be, we will just re-read what you have published and be glad of it.

  5. Sad to learn you feel like that, my friend. I'm still finding out what a hard business this is, but I know enough to sympathize with your situation. Just don't do anything hasty.

    Recon first. Assault second.

  6. Nothing drags like work that you have to do, nothings better than work you want to do. I'm going to write what I wish I could read, I don't think I could write anything else, fictional at least, that would be worth the time put into it.

    You are a source of great encouragement in my writing efforts, so don't give up on me or yourself yet.

    I remember you telling me about what you had to do, what it took to put those Balfour novels together. You gave me quite an impression that it was an incredibly taxing amount of work. However, the end result were novels that I seriously classify among my all time favorites.

    You ever think, perhaps, you are reading too much of other peoples crap, and it's wreaking havoc with your own creative process? I know I have to actually stop reading while I'm actively writing, because I either have time for one or the other, so I take turns focusing on different things. I create 3D art, I intend to do 3d animation someday (after the novel) I like videography. My wife thinks I have ADD, but that's silly, I KNOW I have ADD. I can't NOT have my mind occupied with something creative and if I try I go stir crazy, but sometimes I get sick of one thing and have to switch to the other. Lately I've had to focus a huge amount of my attention on work projects, which sucks, because I'm feeling desperate to get back to my stories.

    Anyway, sorry for the rambling. If you do decide to take up knitting, expect me to still keep hounding you for advice. :)

  7. Suck it up TG! This is no time for the faint-hearted to faint. Our Great Republic needs you, your readers need you, and I, dear friend need you and your stories of publishing travail. Schadenfreude? No. A case of misery loves company. No laying down the baton, writing buddy. Bad for group morale.