Tuesday, March 11, 2008

On Taking the Good with the Bad

Despite an abundance of things to write about, I have hit a wall, mostly because I’ve been spending my days and nights and weekends churning out the grant proposals. You know, what I do for a living. I like to call it “Hogging all the hot water in the creative pockets of my brain.” Which have been pretty linty and empty lately as a result.

I could write about the flat tire I got last week, which was remarkable only because I haven’t gotten one ever, in my life, despite regularly driving over curbs and broken bottles and small children on bigwheels.

But who wants to hear about that?

Do you really want to hear about how my local grocer’s bag boy (We call him "Subway’s Jared 2.0") insists on always making a comment on my transaction? Last week, on my canvas bags: “Wow, you have bags from everywhere.” Two weeks ago, on a bag of Flat Earth veggie chips: “You know, I’ve tried the fruit ones. They weren’t that good.” Tonight: “You know, for an instant soup, this is pretty healthy.”

I could recommend a half dozen movies I’ve seen and enjoyed lately (The Namesake, Once, Sunshine, Into the Wild, The Darjeeling Limited), or tell you about music I’ve been listening to on my iPod (Radiohead’s OK Computer, Muse’s Black Holes and Revelations, the soundtrack for Once), or dishes I’ve cooked lately or reunions I’ve had with old friends or plans I’m making for the release of my book.

Holy Sh*t. I have a book coming out.

I go through my day doing the usual day-type activities (brushing my teeth, commuting to the office, working on my life-size macaroni and glue portrait of the Pope), and every once in awhile I will remember That I Have A Book Coming Out Soon and a feeling that can only be described as a cross between exhilaration and terror will curdle in my stomach. I just need to remember two bits of advice I recently gleaned via the always eloquent, always angry, always scary-intelligent and intense in a Hot-Guy-Way Henry Rollins.

Well, the advice didn't come from him, but from two guests on his show.

Very loosely paraphrased from the talented and brilliant Steve Buscemi, on pursuing your art (acting, writing, painting, etc.) in the face of criticism and public scrutiny: “When someone tells me they want to be an artist, I tell them, ‘Be sure you love it. Otherwise it’s just not worth it.”

Also loosely paraphrased from the kick-ass and amazing Joan Jett, on that same criticism and public scrutiny: “To believe the good reviews, you have to believe the bad.”

So. I steel myself and try to internalize this advice. Because they’re on the way, from Publishers Weekly and maybe Kirkus and Library Journal. From magazines and newspapers and bloggers and most importantly to me, anyone who walks into a bookstore and shells out money they’ve earned to be entertained by a story I told. This is a privilege, and a serious job, and I take it as such. I also happen to love it. So if the book contains a few too many plot twists or bad words or it doesn’t go all Samuel Taylor Coleridge on your ass and make you “suspend disbelief” for 350+ pages, I apologize. I’ll work harder next time. I promise.

But still, if you happen to pick it up in a bookstore in two months, I do hope you like it. And bless your darling heart if you do.

Also, my dog pulled some tripe out of her food bowl today and rolled in it and it was hilarious. I guess I could have written about that instead.


  1. I've been thinking about your book lately, and looking forward to shelling out dollars for my very own copy. If we ever meet, will you sign it for me? :)

  2. I can't wait to read your book. I bet you are so excited. I hope you go to Barnes and Noble or wherever and just get super excited when you see YOUR BOOK in stores. That would be so cool!
    My favorite part of this post (I totally cracked up)"despite regularly driving over curbs and broken bottles and small children on bigwheels." That sounds like my driving haha! The part about the pope was a funny surprise too!

  3. Jess, I've been trying to track down the origin of that "bad reviews/good reviews" quote for years. I've had no luck but it's one of my favorite quotes. Back in 1976 someone said that to me when I got a good then bad review on a show I did. And Buscemi is right, if you don't love it (especially show biz) it SO is not worth it.

    Hey, I'll be on crutches when your book comes out, will it be on Amazon and can I preorder it now?

  4. Of course I am planning on buying your book. I can't wait to read it.
    Sorry about your tire and the annoying bag boy. We have an annoying old man bag boy, bagman? He is always grumpy and slams your items into each bag being careful to overfill them, just to be sure that they are either too heavy for me or break as I carry them to my house.

  5. I can't wait - I think I pre-ordered your book on Amazon in November. It's taking F-O-R-E-V-E-R!!!!

  6. i'm excited about your book!

    and i have also only had one flat tire, despite the fact that i think my suv is a tank and that i can drive over anything i want.

  7. As one of the few (and dare I say special?) people to have seen an advance copy- let me give you my review- "Better than a life sized macaroni and glue portrait of the Pope- this book kicks ass."

  8. I can only hope, wish and dream that one day I will be feeling EXACTLY the same way you're feeling right now.

  9. Anonymous8:01 AM

    I am loving the Flat Earth chips (a little too much) and the Once soundtrack. And I know I'm going to love your book! I hope I can stand the wait.

  10. Anonymous9:25 AM

    I'm looking forward to reading your book, too. And I just recently tried the garlic Flat Earth chips. Loved them.

  11. Best wishes for fantastic reviews and for a glorious macaroni pope-thingy.

  12. I also have your book on preorder.

    What the hell is the holdup already?

    Come on people - got Jess' book to read here!!!

  13. If I were you, I might just write about my book for the next 2 months! It's very exciting, of course! Let's start the countdown now!

  14. Anonymous8:11 PM

    I think everyone goes through phases where they blog more than at other times. As for having a book out soon, that must be so surreal. I hope it's a fun ride!

  15. Well Ms Riley, I have pre-ordered mine from Amazon UK using real pounds with pictures of the HRH the Queen on so it had better be good!

    Just kidding ...

    Or am I?


  16. The English nerd in me swooned at the Samuel Taylor Coleridge reference. Bravo.

  17. I'm so excited for you!!

    Do you have a paint by number macaroni for the pop, or are you freehanding it?

  18. I have absolutely no doubt that the book will be spectacular. Why? Because I have NEVER been disappointed when I've visited this blog. Never. Therefore, it's a slam dunk.

    Like the others, I hope to shake your hand one day and get a signed copy. That will be cool.

    Hi from Brewtown. *waves*



    The majority of the world is going to love it. those that don't just suck!


    Stop yer werryin' babe. You've let your story live. You've given it life. The rest is up to the world to fall in love with it. They will.

    And I will too, as soon as I'm done with Eileen's, which is soon!

    xoxoxoxo with all my skinny-ass heart (I can say that now! LOLOLOLOL)

  20. Anonymous10:21 PM

    Awww, don't worry bout your book! I happen to know it's pretty great. xoxox (the title of this blog put the Facts of Life theme song in my head. Thanks for that)