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Monday, February 25, 2013

Birthing Book Ideas

Ernest Hemingway
Ernest Hemingway in Letter to Charles Scribner (1940):

"Charlie there is no future in anything. I hope you agree. That is why I like it at a war. Every day and every night there is a strong possibility that you will get killed and not have to write. I have to write to be happy whether I get paid for it or not. But it is a hell of a disease to be born with. I like to do it. Which is even worse. That makes it from a disease into a vice. Then I want to do it better than anybody has ever done it which makes it into an obsession. An obsession is terrible. Hope you haven't gotten any. That's the only one I've got left."
                                                         -Ernest Hemingway-

Something horrible has happened this weekend. It is the most unimaginably awful thing that can happen to a fiction writer. It's hard to even speak of, it's so terrible.
This is what happens when authors create their own temporary covers. Clearly, some things are still best left to professionals. Who is that unusually large headed fat man pushing on that tree?
With my latest work (and first genuine attempt at market fiction (whatever the hell that term means))(and, oh yes, it's my damned blog and I will use as many of these things ((())) as I want to), Losing Meadow Brook, advancing through the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award competition, and my refurbished novella, Silence of Centerville, heading out the door, and this lovely little blog gaining steam, my plate was already full.
Add to that my apparently never ending quest to find a paying gig to sustain my boyish figure, and keep the wolves at bay until Hollywood calls and begs me to do a movie adaptation of one of the poorly edited earlier novels that have only been read by my mother...
Don't tell me I can't try this at home, you fascist bastards!
...and not to mention my scientific research and experiments based on random thoughts and ideas, despite having no scientific background whatsoever, and I've been pretty busy.
We've secretly replaced Buzz's coffee with Folgers crystals that have been brewed a week earlier and then left to sit in their own secretions and ferment. Let's see what Buzz thinks.
Not Fortune 500 CEO, got to get to the golf course and close that million dollar deal today before my spa appointment busy, but writer busy, which is more along the lines of, "oh shit, I've been so busy writing that I forgot to drink the cup of coffee that has been sitting two and a half inches from the keyboard for the last four hours, and I wonder if it is still good, and if not good, per se, then hopefully just a wee bit above room temperature."
Ohhh. That is cutting edge 1980's special effects!

 Anyhow, despite it all, it happened this weekend. Like one of those bugs from an old Star Trek movie that crawl into your head and start gnawing away at your brain tissue...I got an idea in my pea brain and started the next novel. 
"Ideas come from a little voice inside my head. It might be my conscientiousness speaking, or that creepy Vladamir Putin guy who lives in my backyard and sneaks into my room at night, whispering ideas into my ear. I'm not sure. "
 Which brings me to the most asked question that I get. "Where do your ideas for books come from?"

"Buzz, you will write a fiction novel about mundane human events. Then, if you ever want to get a literary agent to read it, you will include a vampire or some other overused undead thing and categorize it as a 'young adult' novel."
I'd like to say that ideas and inspiration come from ascending the highest mountaintop in Tibet and meeting some spiritual guru or something, but that's not how it works with me.

For me, ideas come all the time, when I least expect them and I am trying to lay around in my underwear watching television. 

"Hello, it's me, an idea for a story. Can I come in?" 

"No thank you. Not today. I'm in my underwear trying to watch reruns of Everybody Loves Raymond."

Usually, by ignoring them, they simply go away and bother the next poor bastard down the street a ways (at least I assume that's what happens because bad ideas have to go somewhere, right?). Sometimes, however, an idea is a little pushier. They knock a little louder and are downright rude about not wanting to leave my head.

"Hey, Mr. Malone, it's me...a Big Idea. Let me in. I know you're in there!"

"Dave's not here, eh."

"I know that's you, Mr. Malone. You're over sixty days past due on writing anything about me. You can't hide forever."

"Go away and leave me alone, you bastard. I'm trying to finish watching The Big Lebowski, damn it."

"You should listen to me, Buzz. I've got a great story line about a young woman having really disturbing sexual relations with a wealthy, older gazillionaire. It's porn really, and has no literary merit, but we'll package it as mass market, and call it Fifty Shades of something. And the best part is, it's a friggin trilogy! They'll sell them in Wal-Marts and everything! You'll be filthy stinking rich. Listen to me."

"Go away. That's the stupidest thing I've ever heard of. They'll never sell porn at the Wal-Mart. It's owned by a bunch of bible belt baptists. It'll never work. Now go on and beat it, pal."

"You'll be sorry, Mr. Malone."


And sometimes, ideas come knocking and no matter how hard you try to ignore them, they just don't go away. They stick in your head and the characters and plots begin to develop until they come crashing through your defenses and force you to write about them, even when you'd rather be doing anything else at the moment. 
When that happens and an idea gets inside the locked bathroom door of my mind, and the characters start to grow and develop, I can either become a real life walking zombie, consumed by thoughts of the story, OR, I can write the damned thing and get it out. It's sort of like a full frontal lobotomy, except using a keyboard instead of a scalpel.
 That... is the ugliness of the birth of one of my book ideas. Some of them are cuter than others.

 And that is all I have to say about that...because I've got a bit of writing to do.  

"An obsession is terrible. Hope you haven't gotten any. That's the only one I've got left."
                                                         -Ernest Hemingway-

 Thank you for reading.

Buzz Malone


  1. Mr. Malone, This is your doctor's office calling. Please note the publication date of that novel Losing Meadow Brook with the ridiculous cover that your mother likes. In two weeks you will be struck down with PPD (Post Publication Depression), a condition worse than any Mr. Hemingway imagined. Don't believe us, read the Peoria Institute report here http://www.thesatirist.com/satires/Post_Publication_Depression.html
    We hope you have a cabinet full of Jameson's to treat these symptoms (zinfandel will do if you are a poor writer who cannot afford Jameson's) to suppress your symptoms. Kindly do not communicate with other writers until your blubbering and whining subsides.

    1. I really don't know which part is most disturbing about that comment. The part about post publication depression (because it is totally true), OR the fact that Timothy really is a doctor.

  2. What's this about a new, improved Silence of Centerville? You mean I'm reading a crappy, substandard version? How could you do this to me? How? Why? And HOW much did I pay for that? ...Oh, yeah, it was a freebie....

    Marian Allen
    Fantasies, mysteries, comedies, recipes

  3. Noooo, Marian. You got the totally NEW & IMPROVED version!

    It's the out of print version that contained the biggest mistakes (like having a deaf character magically "hear" something at one point, and having a girl's hair change from brown on one page to a nice hue of "shiny black" on the next.

    Sadly, it is the original version (like an error rookie baseball card of Ty Cobb) that will be most valuable and collectible when I am dead (because I naturally assume that everything I have written will become incredibly valuable and critically acclaimed when I have passed, otherwise what the hell would be the point to keep writing novels that take me six months to complete and earn an amount of money that would cause an eight year old factory worker in China to go on strike and demand more compensation?).

    I haven't forgotten about you, either, Marian. Watch for an inclusion of some kind in coming days (will probably lump you in with that crazy German rabbit lady that I love so much). Ha! She kills me. Hang in there readers...you have got to see this for yourselves. LOL.

  4. I loved this post it's perfect for someone like me. I don't think I've finished reading anyone's blog entry until now.

    1. Why thank you Anna. If I can waste just ten minutes out of someone's day by getting them to read an entire blog post, then I feel like the time I wasted writing it wasn't such a waste after all. Besides, you had better read them. I read all of yours!

      If you haven't read it yet (I am assuming), give this one a try too...
      It says a lot at the end for aspiring writers and the art of not accepting failure as an option.

      Thanks for reading Anna!


  5. Hello there, just stopping by to check out your corner of the world. Very interesting, very interesting indeed Buzz Malone. Jack

    1. Hey Jack, thanks for stopping by. Hope you don't mind the mess. Thanks for reading!