I’ve deliberated long and hard and finally decided that actually, most of the formula for being a super-successful published essayist is to have a few stories to tell about various shit that happened to you in your life, and to be able to prove that you are qUiRkY! Congratulations FUCKING EVERYBODY. Time for us to call up our literary agents.
[photo: Getty Images via nymag.com]
Writing a book used to mean something. “I AM GOING TO WRITE A BOOK!!” used to be met with gasps and applause, and the endeavor itself used to command respect. But now, all you have to do is live long enough to have at least 10 wAcKy AnEcDoTeS to tell and be able to get to a Borders to read that dumb NaNoWriMo guy’s book.
In one short month, you will have your very own book of essays that other people can buy and chuckle at and be like
“OMG that is SO something that happens to people!” or
“NUH UH I had a problem relating to my parents/boss/French people one time too! LOL!”
Has anyone else read Sarah Vowell’s book “Take the Cannoli?” Did anyone else notice that it was just a bunch of stories about different stuff that ANYBODY could have written? She didn’t escape from a war, she didn’t discover any scientific discoveries, and she definitely didn’t figure out that having bangs and wearing makeup helps you be pretty. But she did grow up, go to high school, and have some friction with her dad and some trouble learning to drive! Sound familiar? WHATEVER. Also, yeah RIGHT you have a lisp and are allergic to gluten, and played the recorder. TOO ADORABLE, I AM NOT BUYING IT.
Then there’s David Sedaris, who unlike Sarah Vowell is actually really funny and a good writer and related to someone else funny and famous. However, he’s also just an OCD dude from the middle of nowhere in North Carolina of all places who did a lot of drugs, worked as a furniture mover, dropped out of art school, and sort of walked around for a while. JOIN THE CLUB, GUY.
So…why are these two living the good life and not having to wake up early to go to a job? Telling stories that anyone could tell and getting to be on national radio like every day? What is the secret to their relatively random success? I need to know, because getting famous enough to be able to live in like, Flatiron and not have to get up at 8 am is basically the most pressing goal on my plate right now.
Well, friends it’s pretty simple. Do you want not to be REALLY famous but at least get to be read by snobby kids on the F train and able to get published in NY Mag or whatever if you need vacay money? Then like Vowell and Sedaris, you need the magic ingredient. The magic ingredient is what qualifies you for publication other than being a hipster who loves to speak in public (HELLO, OVER HERE!).
DUH it’s Ira Glass.
Ira Glass, listen, I’m pretty sure that listening to/inserting poignant music into anecdotes from across the country and having a professorial speaking voice is not the same as being smart. So why don’t you just take off those sexy foxy salt and peppery used to have a ponytail infectious chuckle having smart guy Elvis Costello looking fake glasses and stop haunting my dreams with your unwelcome but undeniable sex appeal, k?
David Sedaris on Ira Glass:”I owe everything to Ira….My life just changed completely, like someone waved a magic wand. (wikipedia.org)”
Um yeah, no shit it did. I wish Ira Glass would wave his magical wand all over me too (yeah that’s right). One minute you’re reading your diary at an open mic night and like, working odd jobs, and then two seconds later you’re all over the mags and radio and getting artsy smoking pics taken of you! Pretty sweet if you ask me, and just the excuse I’ll need to take up smoking again in another 25 years…
What if you don’t think you can meet Ira Glass? What then?
DO NOT PANIC. You just have to revert back to the time-tested approach of just being really pretty. Being pretty will still get you everything you want, including popularity and a book deal even if you grew up in the suburbs and your book revolves around a story about a boss who was pretty mean to you. It also doesn’t hurt to happen to work in book publishing while you are being so pretty.
Oh um hey Sloane Crosley….sorry…I didn’t see you there, how awkward…. umm, you ARE really pretty though…