Spurred by my latest success in deciphering editorial tastes by actually reading material previously published, mining said material for key points, and then interjecting those points into my own work and submitting as my own original piece, I've decided to write a best seller. I don't think it'll be that hard. Something like this:
Granted it has only been two publications in which this strategy was implemented, but the ease with which this plan worked has filled me with confidence. And I have a few things going for me. 1.) I went to FIU, where best seller was not a dirty word and commercialism was strongly encouraged, and where this particular tactic, the mining of hits to replicate, was very much out in the open; 2.) I have no delusions of artistic integrity. Writing, like everything else in life, is merely a series of rules to manipulate, adhere to, or circumvent as need sees fit; and 3.) I have the luxury of the time to do this.
The other day, I had Justine order three books from the year's top ten bestsellers. On that list is a book by Nicholas Sparks, an author I abhor. I hate him, like, more than I do the Red Sox. Or pretty close. The man (and I use that term loosely) writes crap, Hallmark schlock, Oprah Book of the Month Club drivel embraced by oversexed, drumpy housewives everywhere who, parcel, post, package, swallow the propaganda of love everlasting and young guys without shirts declaring such in the rain. In short, Nicholas Sparks is the antithesis of everything I want to be as a writer, a man, a human being. Except... The mutherfucker has, like, 18 books on the best seller list, and while I'd love to sit here and just bash the guy, obviously he is doing something right. I mean, we're not 16 anymore.
"Hey, they're playing Journey."
"Journey? They suck."
Maybe you don't equate commercial with being indicative of worth, and it isn't always the case that just because something is popular it is necessarily good. But it's a better barometer than most, and it certainly is more true than the converse, that if something is mainstream and adored by the masses it must suck. I don't know the appeal of Sparks, but the truth is, I've only seen The Notebook, never even read the damn thing. You can't have all those books on the best seller list by accident. So I want to steal his ideas.
Now, of course, I am not saying I am out to write The Notebook or Dear John or whatever Sparks writes. I simply want to dissect what it is about his work that translates to commercial gold.
And his are not the only works I will be doing this with. I am going to read a bunch, including those goddamn Girl with the Dragon Tattoo Who Kicks the Hornet's Nest books, and I might even read Eat Pray Love. Yes, mutherfuckers, you read that correctly. Eat Fucking Pray Fucking Love. Fuck, let's just include The DaVinci Code, a book so awfully written that when I tried before to read it I stopped when I got to the line, "He donned his purple robe." That was on page 3. But fuck it, because what I've been doing hasn't been working, and if I learned anything from AA it's that stubbornly sticking to a game plan that ain't working isn't heroic; it's plain stupid.
Now I know everyone isn't going to be a fan of this strategy (I've already been told by a good, dear friend, who has asked to remain anonymous, that my last short story "Dancing: A Love Story in Five Parts" http://monkeybicycle.net/dancing-a-love-story-in-five-parts/
was "a retarded little monster baby" which, as it's mother, I have to love. And he has a point. This is
a danger. I am going to have to cull and infuse carefully. I can't do so at the expense of my own vision and voice. But I want my boy to see his daddy is not a bum, and I am going to get a book deal, one way or another. Simply trying really really hard and coming up short is not an excuse. Like Sean Connery says in The Rock
Writing a book, let alone a best seller, is hard fucking work. As my professor John Dufrense once said of writing, "Of course it's hard. If it wasn't hard, everyone would be doing it." But if I am going to put the work in, might as well shoot big. And make failure not an option.
Stay tuned. I'll let you know how it goes.