Do it wrong the first time

brainA brief anatomy lesson: I have a hard time finding a hat that fits, because I was cursed with a freakishly large melon head. Honestly, my neck has to put in overtime to keep my head from sinking down to my shoulders. People only use about 10% of their brains. If my head is bigger, my brain is bigger, ergo, my 10% is bigger than the average homo sapien’s. I should think that I would have a leg up on delicate-framed super models who have to shop for their hats in the children’s section.

It also means that I have more brain cells to devote to self-doubt, fear, and why some people wear their pajamas to Uber-Mart. (You know who you are.) That’s why I’m especially grateful for people who take the time to write reviews for my books.

Objectivity for a writer is about as rare as snakes on a plane. (Don’t believe everything you see at the movies.) Humor is anything but objective. By the time you edit the hell out of your manuscript and re-read it until your eyes bleed, the jokes seem pretty lame. It’s such a relief to get a confirmation from someone other than your mother. I’d like to share a very nice review I received yesterday from Grady Harp, one of the top reviewers at Amazon.

I NEVER DROVE A BULLDOZER: THERE’S A HOLE IN MY BUCKET LIST is not only incredibly hilarious, it also touches on the issues of those of us who are somewhere between declining gonadal function and trying to remember which retirement home has a sale on for the Golden Years.

A good review is a two-edged sword. A nice pat on the back, and the expectation that the next book will win the Pulitzer prize (or at least not suck). When soul-crushing self-doubt has me dragging my feet, I have to keep telling myself that the first draft is supposed to be wrong. Otherwise my brain cells will spontaneously combust with the effort of thinking up excuses not to write that next book.

I don’t think there’s any writer who has never felt insecure about their books. The good news: I won’t be getting the big head anytime soon, or have to invest in a three-man dome tent next time I go hat shopping.

P.S. Take a moment to check out the cool book trailer I made for Box of Rocks on the sidebar (with the butterfly). The plot is a little thin, but the special effects are amazing. I’m thinking Oscar.

Walk the walk

Disclaimer: Despite the title, at no time during this blog will you find anything touchy-feely, enlightening, or socially redeeming. If you want self-awareness and personal growth, you should try www.DrPhil.com.

A well known author claimed that all writers should make a New Year’s resolution to “own” their profession. Even if your day job involves cow cadavers and goat guts, you need to define yourself first and foremost as a writer (and seriously consider a new day job).

Police officers have uniforms. Road workers have those ugly orange vests. Lawyers have Rolexes, penis cars, and $500 Italian leather shoes. Writers have half-price underwear. Since I don’t walk around with my Fruit of the Looms outside my pants (except on Tuesdays), how are people supposed to know my profession just by looking at me?

crime sceneI was at a mystery shop in downtown Charleston last week, shamelessly trying to peddle my books when I saw it. It was blindingly yellow and majestic. Even though yellow makes my skin look like I just ate three pounds of undercooked pork, I knew it would be mine.

I walked out of the shop with my new scarf and a spring in my step. I looked like the epitome of a mystery writer, or a serial killer. I knew now that I would have the respect and admiration of all my non-writery peers.  “Look at me owning it!” I thought.

My peers were staring blatantly at my scarf, or my boobs. Either way it was a win. I couldn’t attract any more attention unless my fly was down, and I had toilet paper stuck to my shoe. Do I regret spending $24 for a scrap of yellow fabric that accentuates the bags under my eyes? I figure it still looks better than Fruit of the Loom Tuesdays.

Brains of a turnip

I used to get really annoyed at basic math, which is to say that I had all the mathematical genius of a lint ball. I had no interest in calculating the square root of 13 or cross multiplying. Oddly, I excelled at figuring out what time a train would reach the station if it ran over two tractors and a moose in Saskatchewan. (No moose were harmed in the making of this story problem).

I always thought that I excelled at English, until today. I made the mistake of trying my hand at an intelligence test involving word pattern recognition. WARNING: Please read on before you click on the above link if you want to salvage any self-esteem.

My assumption should have been flawless. For those of you who prefer math, you can break it down into an equation: words + genius = writer, ergo (note the fancy word) since I’m a writer, I’m also a genius.

Do I not have excellent spelling, grammar, and punctuation? Am I not endowed with an extensive vocabulary, which includes words like endowed and extensive?

On this test, you only have to get one question out of thirty-three correct to be average. You need at least six to be somewhat intelligent. After several hours … well, let’s just call it a very long senior moment on my part and leave it at that.

So does it really matter if we know our IQ, or if we can remember what “IQ” stands for? Does anyone really care what time some hypothetical train reaches the station? I think not. I figure if I can remember to zip my fly after using the bathroom, I’m doing OK.

Humans only use 10% of their brains, so I figure if some brain cells spontaneously combust from this intelligence test, I still have plenty left over. Maybe some of them can figure out what 191 U N M S means.