williamallenpepper

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HOW ELECTION NIGHT WAS LIKE A BOOK DEBUT

I’m a writer, so much of what I experience is filtered through that prism. My kids are sick of me calling them my little novellas (kidding. They’re more like vignettes), but such is my affliction.

So, it’s not surprising that on election night amid all the electoral-no-popular vote/Fox News meltdown/What’s-up-with-Wolf’s-beard? Drama, I kept seeing parallels with the stages of Sturm und Drang writers go through with their books. Here are some of my  observations:

Procrastination: What writer doesn’t put off to the last-minute finalizing that project? Romney’s speech writers were no different. One of the reasons, reportedly, that Romney took so long to concede was because the speech still wasn’t written yet. The Romney campaign claimed this was because they were supremely confident their guy would win and wouldn’t need a concession speech. I think it’s just because they left a writer in charge of it. “It’s midnight on election night. CNN, NBC, Fox News all are calling it for Obama? Well, has Home Shopping Network said anything yet? No? We got plenty of time.”

A sign of insanity is doing the same thing over and over expecting a different outcome:  I’m not saying Romney is insane, but writers certainly are. While networks were calling states left and right for the Democrats, the Romney campaign was supposedly holed up in their hotel crunching and re-crunching poll numbers to find where there might be a pocket of reliably Republican votes coming that hadn’t already been looked at. I kept having this image of a dude with his tie loosened, one sleeve rolled up and the other dangling and stained with nacho cheese, his eighth cup of coffee in one hand while his other hand obsessively refreshes the numbers on a screen. It reminded me of a writer whose book just came out, endlessly updated the Amazon Author Central page to see if his rank has changed yet.

Yes, truly, a little stimulus never hurts:  For writers, inspiration can come from walks in the woods, good music, or the need for money to buy copious quantities of alcohol and narcotics. Similarly, Fox News pundit Charles Krauthammer is also a psychologist (insert your own joke here) and when the writing was on the wall election night, he was offering to write prescriptions for viewers to help them through this ordeal. Great, Charles, now what can you do to help me get back all the time spent watching political ads the last two years?

You gotta know when one more edit is not gonna help: Every serious writer knows that most of writing is re-writing. You gotta edit your crap like crazy to polish it to a high shine (whatever that means). Still, enough is enough. Too much can actually undue the good you put into the work. Part of being a good writer is knowing when you are, in fact, done writing. On election night, a whole bunch of news outlets were calling the race for Obama. The balloons were dropping, music blaring, but even as bits of confetti were gagging Wolf Blitzer, CNN lumbered on running scenarios how Romney might be looking at Florida and still predicting a win. Maybe CNN and the Romney campaign were playing that game kids play where they try to see who holds out the longest before finally one of them turns off the hall light like Dad said to.

Eighty-four agents have rejected this query. Maybe if I just move this comma over here…: Poor Karl Rove (never thought I’d say that). When the election outcome was so clear that even Fox News was resigned to it, he stuck to his guns. “Well, maybe if Florida does this…” he say or “Don’t forget there might still be some uncounted ballots under Joe Biden’s futon…” FInally, it got so pathetic, that Megan Kelly was sharply saying, “They have scientific methods of determining this, Karl, give it up.” It was fascinating. And sad. (“Sadinating”? “Fascinad”?) But it’s kind of like what writers do sometimes. Pushing and pushing and pushing a book on agents that just simply isn’t ready to see the light of Barnes & Noble’s day. The problem isn’t the electorate/readers. Changing the font of your query letter or finding a synonym for “mucus” isn’t going to change any agent’s mind. The problem is your product just wasn’t ready for its debut.  That’s a good lesson. Thanks, Karl (never though I’d say that either.).

The lonely Maytag repairman syndrome: Remember those old Maytag dishwasher commercials with the bored, lonely repairman sitting around with nothing to do because, supposedly, Maytag washers never breakdown? Fox News kind of looked like that Tuesday night. They all had this, “Poor me” pouty look about them. The same look some writers get at signings where they hide between stacks of books to hide from the nonexistent customers who aren’t stopping at their table to buy books. It’s a look that conveys total shock that anyone would dare to suggest yours is not the bestest candidate/book ever.

Or the best blog.

*Stares at you poutfully, but with purpose*

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