Monday, August 30, 2010

I was thrilled and honored (CLICHE-FEST OFFICIALLY OVER NOW) to be included as part of the cover feature in the September issue of the esteemed writer's magazine, Writer's Digest. The magazine did a themed "BIG 10 ISSUE," which asked 10 bestselling authors to share their top 10 secrets. I was part of that elite TOP 10, along with Sherman Alexie, Mary Higgins Clark, Jodi Picoult, Erik Larson and Chuck Palahniuk. I answered the question (each author answered a different question), "Top 10 Ways to Stay True to Yourself in Publishing."

I, of course, answered the questions like a semi-jackass, completing them while I helped my father convalesce after shoulder surgery at his house, where happy hour started right after the Folger's. The result? Here's a peek:

10) Do Not Try to Write Mary Potter & The Half-Price Rinse & Set, or Twilight: But with Zombies!
Listen closely to this, if nothing else: Write what you know, what you feel, what you believe, what needs to come out, not what you think you should write, or what you feel might sell. Writing anything other than what you have a passion for, anything other than that story that burns to be told, and you’ll be a sellout. And you’ll know it. And everyone will know it. And you’ll feel hollow, because what you’ve written is hollow. Follow your heart. Don’t let the market dictate your art.

For my entire list, you can go to the link below, or not be a cheap-ass and actually buy a copy (it's a fabulous issue, really ...):


Sadly, I was most thrilled to be included in the editor's and staff list of "TOP 10 WRITERS, DEAD OR ALIVE, WE'D LOVE TO HAVE DRINKS WITH" ... I was (drum roll) NUMBER FREAKING TWO, behind only Ernest Hemingway and ahead of Hunter Thompson (and I think I was the only living writer named to the list), all of which means I'm either a drunk, insane, violent, or an insane, violent drunk, which doesn't seem so fun when you work it out in your head. Whatever: I'm thrilled. It's like being Playboy Bunny of the Year, but way better. Drunk. And still fully clothed.

When stuff like this happens, it's still strange, because all these thoughts start popping in my head (though that could be the effect of decades of gel and Rave). I still too often still think, "Me? Did they e-mail the wrong person?" when I get asked to be a part of something like this, or lecture at a major conference/event. As I wrote for Writer's Digest, this is part of the "Fear Factor," which, sadly, defines most Americans. All of us, especially writers, are defined by our fears.

"Am I good enough?"
"Can I make a living at this?"
"Who really writes for a living?"
"Who does what they love?"

Fear strangles us. Prevents us from finding our voices, and pursuing our passion. From, like I still too often find, feeling we're good enough. That we belong. That it's OK to be happy.

All I can tell you is this: Turn FEAR into "Free Every Artistic Response." Let your creativity and calling guide you. Listen to it. Follow it. I guarantee, when you do, your true voice will be unleashed ... and happiness will follow.

And, when you get there, to that little corner bar called "Happiness, Success and Fulfillment," let me know. We'll drink to our success.

And we all know I'm pretty damn good at that. So, be prepared for a Hemingway-esque night on the town. All you need to do is get out your cash, ID and lip gloss, and put away your handguns.