• I Am a Fictional Author

    June 8, 2017 // 18 Comments »

    As regular readers know, my new book, Hooper’s War: A Novel of WWII Japan, is a work of fiction, by which I mean I acknowledge that I made up more of it than a typical journalist will admit to.

    “Fiction” also allows me to pretend that pathetic episodes from my own life that are in the story didn’t happen, and allows me to mock obvious real people by simple saying “All characters are fictional and any resemblance to persons living or dead is merely coincidental” (Lawyers: Kidding!)

    Since my personal goal this time around is to involve fewer government agencies than got involved with book one, We Meant Well, I can’t believe I didn’t stumble on to this fiction thing a long time ago except for my resume.

    That said, I have come to learn that fiction writers are expected to be different. As a non-fiction writer about the failed reconstruction of Iraq, I just showed up and wrote down what happened. I could have hired a stenographer to follow me around Iraq, and just signed off on the text. Again, you mature, you grow, it’s a journey.

    Fiction writers it turns out are supposed to be characters in their own right, quirky, fascinating people you want to spend time with drinking inexpensive but marvelous wines in Brooklyn, saying words like “quirky” and “robust” (the wine, not the author.) Apparently being a fat, bald old guy with a chip on his shoulder isn’t enough to sell fictional books.

    So, some changes will need to happen.

    Though I overpaid for LASIK a few years ago, I henceforth shall wear the thick black glasses that made everyone in the 1950s look like a dork. It seems the whole thing is based on living a life of total irony, without ever letting on you actually know what irony is.

    I’ll wear only black shirts with old jeans, and a twenty foot scarf wrapped a bunch of times around my neck, ’cause nobody’s done that look. I’ll look like Yassar Arafat with a bad cold.

    Or black turtlenecks.

    Or black t-shirts. Unironed.

    Perhaps a fedora, or, when I’m feeling especially plucky, a jaunty beret.

    Tattoo in Chinese characters whose meaning I do not know. I will later learn the giant thing permanently inked on my arm actually only means “table.”

    I will use more foreign words. For example, I will use the French tableau frequently, which actually does mean “table,” to describe pretty much whatever the hell I want and you’ll nod.

    I will be seen with someone, such as Lindsay LohanMiley Kardashian Cyrus, who is edgy. (Miley, tweet me up, you got the digits. Payment in blow, like before.)

    I hate smoking but I will often smoke. A pipe for author photos, hand-rolled tobacco in public.

    I will listen only to bands so obscure that they haven’t even formed up yet.

    Sell the dog, get an exotic cat. Say “animals are so pure, unlike people, they just know love.”

    When out to dine with other self-important people, we shall order only “small plates.” I don’t know what that is– are they what used to be appetizers? Are they just tiny portions of the stuff that used to come on big plates? No matter.

    Other things I will say often: Amazing, take it to a new level, my passion, pivot, robust, my journey. I will go out for a coffee while you go out “for coffee.” I will refer to other famous people as “the new Gatsby” (I have never been able to finish reading anything by Fitzgerald but I saw most of that movie and was sober for the first half.)

    I will raise false modesty to an art form. When people ask what I do, I’ll say “Oh, I scribble down some things for people. Perhaps you’ve seen them– in a little paper called the New York Times?”

    I will refer to obscure artists as “the best ____ of his generation” not only to sound douche, but in hopes that someone will do me a reach-around and refer to me as the best of my generation.

    I will claim to do all my writing on some cutting edge Apple product you can’t buy yet, or with a special 19th century pen on hand-crafted paper, or maybe (quirky!) on a reconditioned Selectric typewriter. I will refer to the crap I write as “my craft.” I will “practice it.”

    I will refer to my fictional characters as if they were real people. Not in the Seinfeld way, but as if they were actually people I could see and talk to. Though I do something like this now when on an Everclear-Oxy bender (Law Enforcement: Kidding!), it will be cool because those characters are me, man. So tableau, oui?

    I will write blog posts like this:

    Up early. Enjoying free range, gluten-free coffee, watching the street scene unfold. Life. So much suffering– I feel it all– but you can’t get cut off. Felt a breeze, a whisper, a feeling, a kiss, in my hair, across my face. Then spilled my coffee, but f*ck society, I don’t care.

    Do cool people still say “ciao?” No? I will restart the trend.

    I will only consume products that are described as artisanal. The electricity in my green lifestyle will be generated by unionized Peruvian shamans whom I visited (well, flew over enroute to Colombia to score Miley’s blow) to appreciate their indigenous lifestyle first. I will feel a relationship to all I encounter, starting with Cyrus once she’s coked again.

    I will start saying my children are adopted, or refugees, or maybe rescues, and make them wear makeup so they look “foreign.” Sorry kids, it’s for daddy’s job. Pretend it’s Halloween. You will see photos of me mentoring third world children on one of my many give-something-back foreign tours. Nobody does this crap with kids in the U.S., so it’s important that the Instagrams have some foreign props or backgrounds. You can Photoshop that if I don’t have time for the travel, right?

    All my media interactions will be meta. I will slouch. I will mumble. I will say publicity does not matter to me, I just want to get my real message out. I will turn the tables and ask questions of the journalists. I may refuse to talk about my book at all and just focus on my concern for the dying tribes of Peruvian shaman electricity generators. Like it seems every modern male author, I will have to work into my book some faux-humble reference to my sexual prowess and/or gifts.

    I will go to rehab. Not because I need to, but because that is where you make the right connections in the business. I will say things like “the business.”

    I will often discuss my favorite writers, but I will not say “favorite,” I will say meaningful. You will not know any of them and will not have heard of their work. I will name one writer you do know, but in a pretentious way, such as “I find Ernest’s later work such a mind blow.”

    I will acquire an agent I only speak to by phone but refer to as my best friend and artistic soulmate. S/he will be one of the 2,367 agents in New York who have turned me down now through three books. My agent will wear thick black dork glasses. Um, any agents reading this, seriously, I’m still at the same number. OK to call late or early or on Sunday.

    I will be a fictional writer. You will love me for it.



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    Posted in #99Percent, Other Ideas

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