Why are you waitng to write?

Monday, April 18, 2011

Let me cut to the chase: All published writers were once unpublished writers.

Writers are like babies taking their first steps: You have to do it by yourself, but it helps a whole lot to have someone helping you along the way.

Roughly eight years ago, I began writing my first memoir, America’s Boy. Check that: I actually started it as a novel, as I was too afraid to tell my own story of growing up gay in the Ozarks.

Luckily, I had a muse, an editor, a critic and a believer in the form of my partner, Gary. After reading what I had written, he said: “It sounds nothing like you.” I was crushed. But it was just what I needed to hear.

And so I started over, eventually visiting my family cabin and writing by long hand what would turn out to be the first chapter of America’s Boy while seated on a stoop with my feet in an Ozarks creek.

There was a point – finally, a point – as I sat with my feet in the creek when I was simply writing. Not thinking, writing. Writing as if my life – every breath – depended on it.

And everything simply clicked. My voice, my humor, my tone, my narrative flowed from my soul. I wasn’t writing any longer. I was my writing. The transition from Wade the person to Wade the writer was seamless.

It came because I finally was able to overcome those fears that had shackled me my whole life. I lived my life with shame: I was gay. I was scared. I was overweight. I was wrong. I was bad.And though I wanted to write – and did write – my whole life, questions haunted me like ghosts:

What would people think?

What would my family think?

Did I have the right to tell my story?

What if people hated it? Me?

No one can make it as an author, right? What if I fail?

Am I good enough?

Who the hell do I think I am, calling myself “a writer”?

For a while, this fear paralyzed me again.

I made the decision – without Gary’s knowledge – reach out to a number of authors I admired, whose work I loved. I wasn’t asking for a hand-out, or a connection, I was seeking the simplest of things: A response. A single line. “It’s gonna be OK, kid.” “You can do it, Wade.”

They didn’t even have to mean it. I just needed to know that they had once been like me. Unpublished.

I just needed to know that it was OK to keep going.

That there was no “secret, golden key to the kingdom.”

I got zero responses.

And, that’s when I had my second epiphany. Rather than be paralyzed by my fear, I thought – and this is so not literary – “Screw ‘em!” I believed in my dream, I believed in my writing, I believed I could change the world.

I finished my memoir, I spent months editing it until I was moving around commas, and I did my homework. I spent months writing my query. I spent months researching agents. I spent months believing in myself, even though it seemed no one else – besides Gary and my mom – did.

One week after submitting 15 query letters to agents I admired, I had received seven offers to read my manuscript. Less than a week after that, I had three formal offers of representation.

I believe that if you have a unique voice, discernable talent, an incredible work ethic, amazing professionalism, skin of steel, a heart of equal parts stone, empathy and love, and a feeling that if you aren’t writing, you may just curl up and die – then you can make it as an author.

And that’s why I formed Wade’s Writers, and why I hold writing workshops. I am the guy who got no response, and I decided if I ever had any level of success, I would attempt to help other emerging writers.

I can’t make you write. But I do think I can make you a better writer. More importantly, I can give you tools to succeed. I can give you inspiration and hope. I can help you crush those fears – in life and craft – that are holding you back.

And if we can do it over wine, and in the one of the most inspirational, picturesque settings in America, even better.

If you haven’t looked into my May 12-15 workshop in Saugatuck, Michigan, I urge you to do so right now.

Every published writer was an unpublished writer.

You just have to start. www.wadeswriters.com

Much love,



Friday, April 15, 2011

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Though my heart aches – feels not just broken but smashed into bits – and I cry at the drop of a hat whenever I see a piece of Marge's reddish fur floating around, look down expecting to see her at my feet, or still call for her to go on a walk – I try to remember what author, icon, animal lover and my friend Rita Mae Brown told me once again when I visited her farm – which was filled with dogs, kennels, horses and cats – last fall.
"Dogs don't know how much time they have left; they live in the moment. And what a blessing that is. Humans spend so much time fearing death, fearing the end, that we lose sight of the now, this very moment. If we could only be like dogs, even for a day."
I think of how blessed I was to have Marge for nearly 14 years. She changed me for the better. She taught me to love without abandon, to hug tightly, to live in the moment. Because that’s all we have.
I’ve been overwhelmed by the support Gary and I have received this week. Hundreds of you have reached out to us to express your condolences, your heartbreak, your sadness, your own stories. And, for that, I am thankful. We are linked not only by our love and kindness but by our pets.
I was struck by a number of stories this week, including a woman who lost her fiancée suddenly and hadn’t been able to laugh until she read one of my books. And there was a woman who expressed her sympathies about Marge and stated she wanted to attend my May writing retreat but was terrified to do so.
To her – and in honor of Marge – I say: LIVE IN THE MOMENT!
Life is short. Our time here is precious. An important part of our journey should be taking risk, tackling our fear, challenging ourselves, running – with wild abandon, as Marge used to – toward the future.
Right now, I am scared.
It has been a brutal past two years. First, my mom. Now, my Marge. My two best girls are gone forever. Why would God take my two best friends so soon? How could He test me so harshly and frequently?
I have lost so many, that I have become guarded. I worry that as soon as I become close to someone, I will lose him or her again.
But, I know I have to take that risk. It’s what makes life precious and special.

My mom and Marge were two of the few I could talk to without fear, knowing I would receive unconditional love. Take that away, and what are we left with?

I learned from my mom -- a nurse and woman of great faith -- that is the nature of unconditional love.
You take the good with the bad. Death is simply a part of life. Only by risking your heart, your soul, can you find true love, true joy, true happiness.
And, that’s what I hope to give back to aspiring writers coming to my workshop in May.
Only by risking your heart and your soul can you find true joy and happiness.
I can’t wait to lead my writers through exercises that will force them to tackle their fears, face their own discomfort, and unearth that unique voice that can change the world.
That’s what writing and loving is all about.
But it’s worth it. No matter how hard it is sometimes.
There is still time for you to take a risk, and live in the moment.
Wade’s Writers (www.wadeswriters.com) kicks off its initial, intensive multi-day writing retreat in less than a month (May 12) in Saugatuck, Michigan, my stunningly beautiful little resort town.
You will write. You will laugh. You will cry. You will become a different person.
You will write. You will eat amazing food. You will drink amazing wine. You will site-see. And you will take a risk.
I urge you to join me. As I learn to risk my heart again, I urge you to risk yours, too.
Let’s live in the moment.


Marge R.I.P 7/16/1997 - 4/11/2011

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Our beloved pet Marge left us yesterday at 13 yrs and 9 months.

14 years, 15 states, five books, three major life changes, two of the world's softest ears, thousands of walks, millions of kisses, zillions of snuggles, infinite belly rubs, laughs and treats … and two men whose lives have forever been changed by one rescue dog’s unconditional love. You helped teach us both it was OK to love again, with wild abandon, hearts be damned. Ours may be broken now, but you mended them once, and you will once more, when we see you again. I know you'll be waiting for us, head always turned, looking back, to see if we're coming. And we walk. Forever.

APRIL FOOL'S DAY: "Joke's on Me!"

Friday, April 1, 2011

“Beggin’ for blurbs,” as I call it, is the author equivalent of a wedgie: You know what’s coming is going to be painful, but you can’t stop it.

My last “official” wedgie occurred on April Fool’s Day decades ago when our rural Eddie Haskell asked, “Knock, knock? Who’s there?”, and before I could reply, said, “Your underwear!”, before lifting me into the air by my Hanes. It’s a punchline I still don’t get, considering the comedy was entirely physical.

Flash forward twenty years to the publication of my first memoir. One of the initial media interviews I conducted was on April Fool’s Day, a week before America’s Boy was set to publish.

I felt ready to conquer the world.

But the DJ asked what it felt like to be compared to Augusten Burroughs and Haven Kimmel, the two memoirists mentioned in my jacket copyd, as well as David Sedaris.

It was then I knew I was damned.

“Have you met them?” the Morning Zoo asked me. “Are they as hilarious in person?”

The closest I have ever come to Burroughs, Kimmel or Sedaris is “beggin’ them for blurbs.”

In fact, I spent weeks crafting a pitch letter to these writers I’d never met but long admired. I perfected prose that was complimentary, but not stalker-ish; hilarious yet poignant.

Then I spent hours staring at the “Send” icon, wondering what these authors were doing at that very moment.

Was Burroughs between pieces of Nicorette and, if so, be irritated when he opened the e-mail?

Was Amy Sedaris making a bologna casserole for David? And would my e-mail be funny enough to make him go, “Get over here, Amy. This Wade Rouse is funnier than Two and A Half Men. We must blurb.”

Of course not.

Burroughs’ assistant kindly said he no longer provided blurbs.

I tried for six months to contact Sedaris, which proved more painful than giving myself rhinoplasty.

Kimmel kindly agreed to read my manuscript, if she had time.

I never heard from her again.

I assumed she despised the book, and, thus, opted not to send, “This Is the Worst Piece of Crap I’ll Ever Read in My Life!” Which is a shame, because my publicist could easily have edited that to read: “This Is the … Piece … I Will … Read [All] My Life!”

I harbor no ill-will. They’re busy, trying to lead normal lives, and I realize they’re overwhelmed by such requests.

I guess I’d just like to see some publishing evidence that blurbs really help sell books, or if they are simply internal ego-boosters, like literary Botox.

Ironically, moments after my April Fool’s media debacle, a well-known author I’d asked for a blurb e-mailed – a year after my request – with a catty note, the basic sense of which was, “Do you know who I am?”

Yes. Which is why I had asked in the first place.

My April Fool’s joke was no longer funny. Which is why my partner, Gary, dragged me to a psychic.

To undo the blurb curse.

Now, I don’t believe in psychics. They are the equivalent of Ron Popeil in a turban.

However, Gary adores one particular back alley medium, who wears a pound of purple eyeshadow and has more feral cats than teeth.

“She has ‘the gift,’” Gary told me.

It cost me $50 for a half hour, roughly what my dentist charges, money I’m convinced he doesn’t spend on cat food and vodka.

When we arrived, the psychic led me to a dark room, incense burning, pushed me into a rickety chair in front a cloth-draped table, and stared into a glass ball I’m convinced she bought at Spencer’s.

She leaned dramatically across the table, grabbed my hands, shut her eyes.

“I can feel your stress,” she said. “I see great things in your future, if you can just transcend your doubt.”

Gary whispered, “Concentrate, Wade. Unchain your baggage. Release the image of Augusten Burroughs. Let go of Haven Kimmel. Set the Sedaris spirit free.”

Just like that, the psychic dropped my hands as if they were made of concrete, and screamed, “Oh, my God, you know them? They’re my favorite writers! Are they as funny in person?”

I clamped my eyes shut, and concentrated. In fact, for once I swore I could hear the spirits talking, telling me something very specific:

“Start writing fiction. Perhaps novelists blurb.”