Writing the world’s greatest novel

004I am writing a book. I’ve written a few books, but this one is different. It’s really long.

It started as a short story about being on the road in a punk band, Sonny Vincent and The Extreme, back in 1980 and 81. One day I looked at it and thought, “I wonder what it would be like if I expanded this thing to cover my entire music career?” and now here I am, 106,000 words later, trying to beat the thing into submission.

Since it’s about me, and my wonderful life, it’s not really a novel, but a memoir, and probably more personal than all the other stuff I’ve written. Even though much of that “other stuff” was also mainly autobiographical. But I suppose this one has a little more of what makes me tick. At least more of it in one place.

BoomShaka11Now when I say my music “career,” I mean a mostly unsuccessful career. And I think that’s the main thing that the book has going for it. Think about it, biographies or memoirs of successful musicians are a dime a dozen. But the vast, overwhelming majority of people who pick up an instrument and start a band are never going to taste one bit of that big time rock and roll success. So my story is their story. More or less.

But part of the problem with working on any long bit of writing is that after a while you can’t help but start to wonder, “Is anyone in the world going to give a shit about any of this?” I know that question has been in the back of my mind for most of the time I’ve been working on this pig. And after you read a given section 10 or 20 times it all starts to sound like the same stupid pile of wet diapers.

Reactors-1979-08So after I spent a good amount of time working on the book every day, I set it aside. For almost a year. Now I open it up and it seems a bit more fresh, since I barely remember writing any of it (or living most of it). I’m at the halfway point of what I think is the last rewrite before I hand it over to a few people to read. I’m punching it up, as the kids say. You know, more jokes, more completely fabricated shit. That kind of thing.

Of course once I let a few people read it I suppose each of them will say that a different part of it is goofy or crappy or doesn’t make any sense at all, and then I’ll have to consider more rewriting. But I accepted a long time ago that this was going to be a long slog. Charles Bukowski wrote Post Office in a few weeks, but he was insane. And that was a short book. I could probably write a novel I didn’t care about in a few months, but where’s the sport in that?

Once this thing is finished, or finished enough, I’ll send it off to Simon & Schuster and wait for the big check, right? Isn’t that how it works? That’s how rock and roll works, so I don’t see why this should be any different.

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  1. Well, there’s two!

    And I figure everyone I refer to by name will want to read it, so I have to get busy adding more names. 😉

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