A face full of predator urine does strange things to a fella. Take it from me. Just last week I was a highly distracted TV cameraman, flitting from one silly assignment to another with little more than lunch on my mind -- until a rescue lion cocked his arse in my direction. That's when it hit me: I gotta walk the Earth. No, I'm not going to wander from village to village dispensing frontier justice with slow-motion karate chops and monosyllabic nods. But I am determined to recast my role on this planet and I'm going to start by embracing NON-photog behavior. Why, just the other day I was spotted hovering over a weighty tome at a trendy downtown eatery. And not once did I shine a light in a stranger's face and ask them open ended questions! Well, there was that one time, but I was merely trying to find the little boy's room.
Relax, I was just attending the first ever BOOKUP - a local event in which interesting people gather around to read -- to themselves. If you think that sounds like your average Saturday night at Barnes and Nobles (minus the roving band of Goth kids), you'd be wrong. Hell, that's I thought when writing pal Joe Maeder (author of When I Married My Mother) invited me to attend the inaugural event. Of course, I'd probably wash Jo's car if she asked me. After all, she's a published author and as such possesses the kind of insider knowledge a constipated scribe like myself would stab a hobo in the throat to learn! Too much? Let me put it this way: If I don't figure out a way to squeeze my words into print, I'm gonna climb the nearest TV tower and start tossing down camera batteries. THAT will get me nowhere, so I feel it wise to seek a room full of higher counsel.
And what a room! Bin 33 was already filing up with the local literatti when I arrived. Hey there's Parke Puterbaugh, Rolling Stone writer also known for Phish: the Biography. And is that Brian Clarey? Editor of Yes Weekly and author of The Anxious Hipster (and Other Barflies I've Known)? Where's my free drink ticket? And why does my head hurt so? Must be because Brian dragged me out to help celebrate his birthday afterward, whereupon he pummeled me with alcohol and solid writing advice. I just wish I could remember it all. Here's what I do recall (and I paraphrase): "Ease off the adjectives. Good writing is all about the verb. Forget everything the jackholes with the MFA's and elbow patches have to say. You're a blue collar, Southern writer and they can't teach that shit in schools. Fiction, Memoir, you can write it all - but you CANNOT hold back. Readers will see right through it and you'll be stuck dodgin' lion piss 'til your back finally gives out..."
If anyone needs me, I'll be in my news unit...squeezing drops of blood onto a notepad.