WAIT. IT'S NOT THAT EASY.
Simple math, you say? Keep reading, because it's not as easy as it used to be. These days, you can’t just get naked and expect to be handed a golden ticket. You have to be competitive; a total champion in the sack. And don't think you have it under control because of that one time you blew someone's mind (years back, on ecstasy) at that rave. You have to be relatively sober for this one, and sex, like the iPhone, is constantly updating. Lack of modern carnal knowledge is no excuse for losing the deal of a lifetime. Do your research, study the human body, but when it comes to actual tradecraft, stay the hell off the internet, there are far too many terrible examples. Instead, consider practicing on a friend who you can trust to give you honest, sober feedback. Train like the Karate Kid, and the “right people” (if just moments ago you put into a dreamy, post-coital bliss), will read your work in earnest, and you either leave with some valuable advice to improve your skills (plus an an open invitation to have another go), or your work ascends to one of the all-powerful gatekeepers of the four gauntlets. Still, be prepared to have another go anyway, so take your vitamins and do all the usual.
To become a legitimate, real writer, you must first be officially certified by the gatekeepers of said gauntlet, which exists as four separate entities; Published, Printed, PAID, and Penance. The second to the last category is in all caps for a reason- you must get paid for your work. A paycheck means there is interest in what you have to say by an audience large enough for a publisher to justify killing a few trees. Don't feel bad about that, for even the CEO of Greenpeace would agree that a few less eyeballs on the Kardashians is worth taking down that 100 year old Redwood. If your subject matter is considered more topical than most, your popularity increases, and your modest book signings will become televised guest appearances on all those shows where writers make guest appearances.
If this is your first book, it should be great fun. Welcome to the world of paid travel, flowing champagne, sushi in the green room, and blowjobs by complete strangers who were deeply affected by your protagonist’s passionate monologue in chapter 10. Success feels even better than you imagined! Close your eyes and enjoy it. Just don’t let the oral talents of an excited fan distract you from opening your eyes and realizing where you really are and what you have become-
Hello, writer! That's right, you're a writer forever, with an official legitimate title and world class credentials. You now own a piece of tax-free real estate in the literary world, whether you write a hundred more or never write again. You would be googling yourself right now, except you're at a party, and there's a long line of attractive people that came all the way from uptown to bask in your bristling brilliance. Go have fun and give everyone a few #selfies. After the euphoria from your first signing party dissipates, take a look around, and check your social feed. If you managed to not do or say anything stupid in public, the adventure is just beginning. By this time tomorrow, you will be assigned an able assistant, a razor sharp publicist and an aggressive literary agent known only to you as "The Bulldog". Better be ready, for your next test of intestinal fortitude will be:
The Media Machine Cesspool! To survive this chaotic phase without flushing your career, you must first earn merit badges for the following six challenges:
1) Your first TV/Radio Interviews. Be yourself, be hilarious and if you have to, be drunk; but only if you can maintain decorum at all times, where you must be adorable to the many and offensive to the few.
2) It's worth mentioning a second time. Hold your liquor at every party like a camel holds water across the Sahara.
3) The "right" amount of coke can enable you...
...to make multiple appearances at parties, press releases and book signings in a single night and still drink like a fish, just to prove that you’re having a great time. Your agent will love you for all the press, but be careful of doing too much. Have your assistant hold your stash, monitor your public behavior and moderate your usage. Take a moment to create some special hand signals. They will come in very handy when she has to tell you discreetly and quickly to stop chewing your tongue, or that you're becoming way too sweaty and intense.
4) Remember, cameras are everywhere. Everywhere!
Take nothing for granted. Whiten your teeth and the whites of your eyes. As for wardrobe, keep it edgy, you rock star! But- careful not to go too silly or too far. Find the most stylish, pretentious, East coast female you know, and have her sign off on all your clothes. Audition everything, Do not take any chances with fashion and work at maintaining 24/7 sex appeal. If your working coke habit has not helped you lose your little writer's belly by now, cut back on the booze, and hit the gym.
5) Treat your assistant with respect.
She is your biggest ally, confidant and often your first line of defense. If she has any questions about her job description, train her properly by binge-watching season 1 of "Ray Donovan". Next, pay her handsomely, in cash and share all the perks. Make a friend. Surprise her with bonuses. If she respects and cares for you, you’ve got a partner in crime that would never rat you out, unless of course you act like a complete power-hungry douchebag. She'll quit, and minutes later, gigabytes of your drunk, naked selfies and amphetamine-fueled sexcapades will “mysteriously” end up in the hands of TMZ.
6) It sounds obvious, but-
Everything you do from this point forward, must be done professionally. If you find yourself going at it too hard, mellow out, eat a real meal and detox. If you end up in rehab when your career is just beginning, people will say that you were never ready for the big time and call you a self-sabotaging loser. On the other hand, if you wait until your second or third book to check into Betty Ford, you are free to blame “the corporations” and not your cocaine for "taking your soul", and fans old and new will lovingly forgive your past transgressions.
Get ready for the experience that legit writers refer to as "the icing on the cake", "I must be dreaming" and "I fucking love my agent". Welcome to: Produced. A franchise movie deal! You can expect everything as above, but bigger, better, sweeter but with even more intoxicating power. This phase is also known as; “The Stratosphere” , “The Lottery Ticket” and "Let's go shopping for speedboats". Not much to tell you here, because if you managed to survive the Media Machine Cesspool and emerged without a visible scratch, your instincts and your assistant are serving you perfectly.
BE SAVVY. BE SMART.
Maintain your famous attention to detail, like making sure they let you write every last word in the screenplay. And when the corporate studio heads offer you an additional 10 million to change the dog into a fish and the girl into a weird, talking, purple stuffed animal with a dubious sexual history, don’t be stupid. Your fans will respect you for not selling out and staying loyal to the original material. On the other hand, maybe you got shrewd and re-invested the extra 10 mil in exchange for an equity stake, EP credit and final cut? Who knew you could be such a business savvy, bad ass motherfucker?
ONE FINAL THING.
But before you head out the door to enjoy more spoils of literary stardom, there's one more extremely important thing you must do. Perhaps the most important thing you will ever do as a successful writer. Welcome to the final test known as PENANCE.
First, cancel everything. You heard me. Now rush to the airport immediately. Fly, fly, fly back to that dusty little cabin in Nantucket or that tiny guest house in Malibu or that older, cheap hotel with the French crackhouse motif. Check into the one room that still has the hole in the wall that Bukowski himself made with his angry, drunken fist back in the late seventies. Turn off your cellphone, and give a big, warm hug to your assistant. Tell her to come back in 2 weeks and lock the door behind you. Take it all in.
With arms extended in gratitude, give thanks to this little, nicotine stained space you stayed in when you had nothing. Remember it was right here, in this very room where you made your idea into words and the words into magic. Now take 20 minutes to meditate. Once you've got at least half of your chakras spinning, thank every friend who loaned you money. Now give special consideration to all of your enemies- realize that you needed that fury and ferociousness to focus on your art, burn bridges and never look back.
Now thank the creative spirits. A lot. Light a candle while you’re at it. For it was they who watched you toil all night as you fought to write the next sentence and pray to your muses that your words carry relevance and meaning. Show ample gratitude for the night they gave you more than you ever asked for; that mystical bombardment of all those articulations that read like music, flowed like a river and you could barely write fast enough to keep up.
Be especially grateful to those beautiful, amazing women who were inexplicably attracted to your darkness, your struggle, and your way with words. Remember the one that came to you on that cold rainy night, how you loved to see yourself reflected in her eyes, and how she kissed you deeply and without inhibition though you tasted like whiskey and cigarettes. Never, ever forget how she loved you unconditionally in the moments you were together. Never forget how she made you feel beautiful, alive, important and inspired. Remember that you loved her too.
Well done. Now, go over to the desk and make yourself comfortable. Open the drawer and pick up the pen and paper...